The best packing advice I can offer for future students. Seriously, don’t bring a hairdryer.
Top 10 Packing Essentials
1) A warm, comfortable sweater – apartments here tend to be cold. I wore mine almost every day around the house.
2) Nice walking shoes – I wore my leather oxfords everywhere. Sneakers are fine so long as they’re stylish; Converse are a good bet along with fashion-y athletic styles like Pumas.
3) CHEAP slippers and flip-flops – apartment floors tend to be marble or concrete, with little carpeting. Flip-flops are a must for hostel showers.
4) A water bottle – I brought one with a filter and it has me saved so much money on bottled water, which gets expensive.
5) A money belt – pickpockets are a problem, especially in train stations and tourist areas of cities like Barcelona. It’s a good idea to split up your credit cards and cash between your wallet and a different location.
6) Luggage lock – you can use them on the lockers in hostels as well as on your bags.
7) A credit card with a chip – Europe uses a chip-and-pin system instead of the magnetic strip we’re used to. Most stores can manually swipe your card, but you won’t be able to use automated machines for train/subway tickets. Ask your bank if they offer an international card with this feature.
8) Comfort food – Reese’s, hard candy, etc. You’ll want something to eat on the plane and at 3am when you’re still on American time and extremely hungry.
9) Nice sunglasses – Everyone wears them here. If you don’t have contacts it’s absolutely worth investing in a pair of prescription ones.
10) Chapstick and deodorant – they’re just not the same here.
Top 5 Things To Leave at Home
1) Hairdryer, flat iron, electric razor – Do not bring ANYTHING that needs a power converter – i.e. runs on American 110 voltage instead of European 220. Even expensive converters aren’t meant for prolonged use, and you will end up with a fried hair dryer, fried converter, smoke, and angry roommates. You don’t need a converter for your smartphone or laptop cable – most are made to handle both voltages, and only need an adapter.
2) Full sized toiletries – you can find American brands like Garnier, L’Oreal etc. in grocery stores.
3) Heels – American heels aren’t constructed well enough to handle the cobblestone and brick streets in the older areas. It’s better to buy a pair here; you’ll want to anyways and they’ll last longer.
4) Obviously American clothes – Brand-name sweat pants, Greek letters, logos of American sports teams, clothes with your university logo…they’ll make you stand out as a tourist, and possibly a target for pickpockets/rip-offs.
5) Dictionaries and phrase books – Google Translate will suffice in most cases, and if your teacher requires you to have one they’re easy to find. Unless you’re going off the tourist path, most places have signs and menus in English.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Elizabeth Benz is a lifetime upstate New York resident who never takes the snow brush out of the back seat of her car. Originally from Buffalo, NY, she is a senior Music Education/Violin Performance major and Italian minor at Ithaca College. These three passions were intertwined on a life-changing trip in 2006 to the International Suzuki Method Conference in Turin, Italy, where she not only saw the communicative power of music across young artists from many nationalities, but also fell in love with the language and culture of the country. Eight years later she is fulfilling the promise she made to herself to return to Italy, after completing her senior student teaching practicum. She is particularly interested in observing the emphasis and importance placed on youth music and arts programs across Europe, and returning with ideas to inspire and support her own program at a future teaching job.</span></p>