As I prepare for my first study abroad experience, I’m filled with an incredible amount of excitement and anticipation. I know that during my time abroad, I’m going to be filled with dozens of amazing experiences that I will get to carry with me for the rest of life; however, one thing I’m not filled with is knowledge on how to pack in my suitcase. With only a handful of opportunities to travel in my life prior to being accepted to the Madrid Summer study abroad program, I feel at a loss when it comes to what I needed to pack, especially since I have never been away from home for more than a week! Am I packing too much? Am I packing not enough? Who knows??
Thankfully, two of my bosses are Europeans well-versed in traveling, and they were able to give me some pointers. The first thing they told me is that since Spain is a very fashionable country, I was going to want to invest in buying some unique clothes during my time abroad. With this in mind, I was able to slim down my belongings into a large carry-on bag and my school bag. You’re going to want to buy things while abroad, whether it be for yourself or for others, so make sure you have room saved to add these things on the way back! Similarly, I tried to be very selective with my packing. I distinctly remember packing a particular shirt I liked, but after further consideration, I left it at home because I realized that I hadn’t worn that shirt in months—the chances of me wearing it abroad is next to zero. Take the time to be thoughtful while you pack!
Overall, my biggest piece of advice is to talk to someone who is from the region you are going to study abroad in (if possible) so they can give you pointers on what to consider while packing. Also, consider talking to your university’s study abroad office to see if they can connect you with other students on campus that were in the same program! I was able to talk to a friend about her time in Madrid, and she was able to give me suggestions on what I will want to bring and what I will want to get once I arrive in Madrid. Again, taking the time to be really thoughtful about my packing has left me with plenty of room to bring back souvenirs for friends, family, and myself!
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