To Pack or Not To Pack

Marissa Talcott
December 18, 2021

I have always been a serial overpacker, and true to form I arrived in Granada with three large bags stuffed with clothes and everything else I thought I needed for studying abroad. Now, some of the things I brought along have been absolutely essential, but I've gotten very little use out of others. I also didn’t really take into account that I would be buying plenty of things here, so trying to fit everything back into my luggage for the way home has been a struggle. With that being said, I thought I would make a list for future IES students about what is worth bringing abroad, and what is just not necessary.

Summer Clothes: Pack them, but no need to go overboard

Of course, the weather in every study abroad location is different, but Granada is pretty hot when students arrive in late August/early September. As I was packing for Granada and looking over the weather forecasts, I wanted to be sure I had clothes for the warm weather. But, it’s safe to see I wente a little overboard. I basically packed like I was going on an extended summer vacation, filling my bags with what I now realize was an excessive amount of summer dresses, shorts, and tank tops. Don’t get me wrong, these were super necessary for the first month or so, but as it got colder I regretted not bringing more layers. There were also a few dresses and tops that I never even wore which ended up just taking up space in my very limited storage. So, my first tip is to take into account that the weather will probably change pretty drastically while you are abroad with the changing seasons. Also, if you have outfits that you like, but probably won’t wear more than once or twice, it’s better to just leave them at home. 

Speaker: Definitely pack

At least for me, a speaker has been an absolute necessity. I listen to music basically every day, and having a small speaker in my room to play music and also to take on outings has been really great. I know I would have been bummed without my speaker, and it honestly doesn’t take up that much space, so I would absolutely recommend bringing one. 

Water bottle: YES YES YES

I bring a water bottle basically everywhere, so this feels like a bit of a given, but I also know that sometimes a water bottle is something that’s easy to forget when packing. Even in the first week in Granada, I would have had such a hard time without a water bottle because it was super hot, and we walked all around the city during our orientation. During classes, while out and about, and while hiking or working out, it is so nice to have a reusable water bottle. Also, Spanish restaurants don’t usually bring you free water with your meal, so it’s convenient to have one to avoid paying for water! 

Toiletries: Honestly most aren't necessary to pack

For the most part, I’ve been able to find all the same brands I use at home here in Spain. For me personally, after going through years of dying, bleaching, and color correcting my hair I have a very specific shampoo and conditioner that I like to use, so I brought those from home. So, if you have a super specific brand that you are attached to, its probably best to just bring it. But everything else I’ve been able to find here. Most of the same soap, toothpaste, and makeup remover brands you can find at Target are also sold in Spain, and if not, there are super similar alternatives. Don’t add extra weight to your luggage by hauling along a ton of bulky toiletries!

Heels: SO not necessary

For some reason, I imagined that I would really need heels for IES events and nightlife in Spain. But honestly, I have not worn my heels once since being here. For starters, the streets of Granada are often uneven cobblestones–not the best for navigating at night in heels. I’ve basically been able to wear sneakers or the boots I bought in Spain for IES events, going out to restaurants, and everything else. Maybe, if you’re really attached to having heels, bring heeled boots, but leave the strappy, 4 inch heels at home. 

Pictures From Home: Pack them

If you’re the type of person who likes to hang up pictures or even just have them to look at, absolutely bring them! They take up very little space and are such an easy way to decorate your room and make it feel a bit more like home. I honestly wish I’d brought more things from home to personalize my room, but having pictures of my family and friends was always a mood lifter if I was feeling homesick. 

Leggings/Sweats: A pair of each

In Spain, people don’t really just wear sweatpants or even leggings out on the street or to classes. Of course, on the days where I was feeling really lazy, I would throw on a pair of leggings as I ran to class, but I’d always feel a little underdressed compared to the Spanish people I passed on the streets. I would say that if you plan to work out, bring what you need to work out in, and bring a pair of sweatpants to wear at home, especially when it gets cold. But, there’s no need to bring a bunch of leggings or sweatpants because you honestly won’t get that much use out of them.

Purse: Pack it

I never really used a purse before getting to Spain and usually I would just carry around my phone and credit card while I was at my home university. But having a purse where I can store my phone, wallet, and whatever else I need for the day/night has been really essential. Also, make sure you’re bringing a purse that is comfortable to wear without setting it down when you go out, because you will want to hold onto it so that you don’t lose it.

School Bag: Pack (duh)

Ok, final thing. It might sound obvious but bring a bag that is the right size for taking to class every day. I know some people who were so focused on bringing large bags and backpacks for the flight so that they could fit more stuff, but then they got to Granada and didn’t have a bag that was a good size for going to class every day. Whether you’re more of a backpack or tote bag person, make sure you bring a bag for everyday use!

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Marissa Talcott

<p>I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and am currently attending school at Claremont McKenna College in Southern California. As someone who loves the outdoors, I am excited to explore the natural surroundings of Granada, Spain. I enjoy writing, learning about history and politics, traveling, and meeting new people. I can't wait to try the food and see the historic, cultural, and natural sites of Spain.</p>

2021 Fall
Home University:
Claremont McKenna College
Portland, OR
Political Science
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