Pre Departure!

Blaze Grabowski headshot
Blaze Grabowski
September 26, 2023

Getting ready to pack my entire life into one suitcase is a challenging feat that studying abroad requires. Luckily for me, this was not my first time around. Last fall, I had to do the same thing when I studied in Belfast. What did I learn from that experience? I packed too much stuff! I had two massive cardboard boxes that contained everything from clothes to a saxophone to cricket equipment to books. How much of it did I use? You can guess the answer. 

When I was leaving, I had a vision of what I would want to do. I wanted to join the school band and play cricket in my free time. Yet when I arrived in Belfast, I realized how many affordable travel options there were. I also found out that cricket season was over, as cold and wet weather makes playing the game impractical. Instead, I visited a different country every weekend. My saxophone remained in its case and my cricket pads went untouched. 

This fall, I was able to eliminate the need for certain things. Despite this, I still found that I packed too many clothes for the semester. Do I need four pairs of shoes? Perhaps not. One of the problems I encountered was having clothing for all weather conditions. Even though the city of Rabat is warm and sunny, the places I will travel to might have different conditions. I ended up bringing clothes for weather from 30-100 degrees Fahrenheit. 

One pro study abroad packing tip that I do have is to use vacuum seal bags. By using vacuum seal bags, I was able to densely pack my carry on suitcase, which lowers the weight on my checked bag. I fit two small bags into my personal item, which contained 15 pieces of clothes. 

If you are planning to study abroad and you decide to use vacuum seal bags for travel, there are some limitations to keep in mind. These bags are really only guaranteed to work one time. After they are re-inflated, they can burst and the bag will not work again. For this reason, I brought a second set of unused bags, this way I can pack for my return trip. These bags also come with a hand pump in the package. I strongly recommend packing this as well, since you cannot guarantee that you will have a vacuum in your study abroad space. This sounds like a lot of extra things to pack, but if you take the bags and the pump out of the box, it will not take up any additional space. 

Before you pack your vacuum seal bags, you should pick the clothes that you are interested in bringing. I made the mistake of immediately sealing. This meant I had things I did not need already sealed with more important items. I also was afraid of running out of clothes between doing laundry, which led to over packing. 

The most important thing you can pack however is extra space! This means you can bring home as many souvenirs as you want. Do beware of customs regulations when returning home, especially rules regarding foodstuffs!

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Blaze Grabowski headshot

Blaze Grabowski

Hello there! My name is Blaze. I am a student at George Washington University and I study International Affairs. I am also a Global Bachelor Student, a GW program where students study abroad for three semesters.

2023 Fall
Home University:
George Washington University, The
International Affairs
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