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Hallo, Berlin!

January 29, 2018

Greetings—Hi, my name is Hehe Shen and I am a junior studying Government at Harvard University. I lived in Shanghai, China for 18 years and New York City for a year before going to college in Cambridge, Massachusetts. One fun fact--many people thought I was joking when I told them my name is "Hehe" (it is correctly pronounced as Huh-Huh in Mandarin and stands for grandeur). In English-speaking environments, I usually go by Hannah to make everyone’s life easier. In my spare time, I enjoy making latte art, wine tasting, cycling and traveling. As a coffee addict, I spent four months working at a special cafe in Shanghai to be a semi-professional barista while enjoying the perk of getting two free cups of coffee every day at work.

While I have traveled extensively in Asia and North America, I have never been to Europe, which is one of the main reasons for me to study abroad in Berlin. With the experiences living in metropolises including Shanghai, New York, Boston and Kyoto, I am thrilled to embark on my journey in Berlin as a student of IES Abroad Metropolitan Studies Program. In the following three months, I will use this blog to continue sharing my reflections about my courses, about the city of Berlin and beyond. But, firstly I would love to share my packing list, especially for students like me, who are traveling internationally and have very limited space in our suitcases.


Things I ALWAYS pack with me:

  1. Personal mementos: as an international student studying in the U.S., I realized that bringing personal mementos for dorm decoration creates a home away from home. I packed souvenirs from my hometown and cities I lived in (New York, Kyoto, Tel Aviv, Boston) to remind me of where I come from and how I managed to find a sense of belonging in all those cities. 

  2. My aroma diffuser: for people who are suffering from insomnia and yoga lovers (in my case, both), I would highly recommend bringing an aroma diffuser/humidifier. I have a bulky aroma diffuser from Muji but I managed to stuff many socks inside it while packing so it actually does not occupy extra space.

  3. Laptop, Kindle, speaker, and headphones: devices that perfect our academic and social life.


Things I ALWAYS pack TOO MUCH with me:

  1. Clothes: I experience some major FOMO when packing clothes. If you ever need to ask yourself: “What if XXX event happens and then I will need this dress?”, please DO NOT bring that dress with you! You will not wear it; you may not even remember packing it. To prevent myself from overpacking clothes this time, I made a catalog of clothes I want to bring and then see if there are repetitive colors and functions and if I have bought way too many pairs of shoes/ too many winter jackets. For Berlin Program in the spring, bring more warm clothes and rain jackets. Don’t bring too many T-shirts or fancy outfits. According to Berlin program's student ambassadors, Berlin rains frequently is very windy and has affordable nice clothes.

  2. Bulky books: “I am going to finish this book on the plane” always turns into 10 hours of movie binge-watching and/or napping. This time I put all the books on my Kindle. $3 for a Kindle version of your book is better than $300 overweight charge.


Things I WISH I brought with me:

  1.  A nice camera and/or a polaroid: I realized this one too late. You will be traveling all around Europe using your weekend time and there are tons of Airbnb Experience classes on photography. I guess I will continue to use iPhone + Instagram filter to document my memories. My friend brought six Kodak disposable cameras when we were traveling in Israel and developed the photos when she returned home. The photos turned out beautiful and the process adds an additional layer of excitement. It’s nice to retrace the old fashion sometimes.  


Things I RECOMMEND to bring if you are staying with a host family:

  1. Souvenirs and thank-you cards: to show your host family your gratitude for them hosting you for three months.


I have attached below my categorized packing list. It helps you keep track of what you can wear and how many items of different kinds you have brought:




A) Daily outfit: 


denim jacket (blue)

winter parka (black)

winter coat (caramel)

spring coat (grey)

spring jacket (red flannel)

raincoat (purple)



long winter sweater (grey)

short winter sweater (beige)

short winter college sweater (crimson)

short winter college sweater (blue)

fall sweater( black)

fall seater (light blue)

fall top (red)

blouse (black)

blouse (orange)

long sleeve (black with embroidering)

long sleeve (white)

T-shirt (black)

stay-at-home casual shirt (grey)


—skirts and dresses

winter skirt (dark grey)

fall skirt (earth)

fall skirt (black)

fall semi-formal dress (black)



jeans (black)

jeans (blue)


B) Workout

yoga top

sports leggings *2

Bathing suits *1


C) Going-out


tank top (brown) 

long-sleeve top (black)


—skirts and dresses

velvet dress (grey)

leather shorts (black)



over-knee boots (black)

snow boots (black)

ankle boots (black)

sneaker (blue)

walking shoes (white)



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