Well, the time has come! It is exactly three days until I leave Drexel to study abroad in Florence, Italy at the Accademia Italiana (AI). Although I am incredibly excited about this experience, I am also insanely nervous and stressed out about it. If you’re reading this as someone who is also leaving for study abroad soon, you know exactly how I feel. In this blog post I will talk about my thoughts and experiences leading up to leaving and some tips I have discovered about packing for study abroad.
First and foremost, because AI is a fourteen week program, I have to leave summer classes at Drexel a bit early: right in the middle of finals week. If this is your situation as well, make sure you tell your teachers way in advance. Although I notified my teachers about the move, I didn’t ask for any special leniency for final projects, which I regret. Moving abroad is an important and difficult change, and any extra time you can use for packing, preparing, moving, or even saying goodbye to friends is incredibly helpful.
One of the big things that I had been putting off is packing. It is incredibly daunting to pack up your whole life into one or two suit cases, bring the right amount of things for the time you are there, and especially plan for multiple seasons. To give you a sense of the weather in Florence, the temperature on the day I arrive will be a toasty high of 86°F with a possible thunderstorm, but during the month of December the average daytime temperature is 52°F. Compared to Philadelphia that isn’t too cold, but it is still quite a wide range to pack for.
For luggage, my airline Air France allows a free carry on bag of 12 kg (26.46 lbs), and I purchased a checked bag of 23 kg (50.72 lbs). Here are some packing tips to consider if you are preparing to study abroad:
- Don’t worry about bringing everything you need. In fact don’t even think about bringing things you could easily buy once you arrive, such as shampoo, soap, and hair products. As long as you remember to pack the main essentials, such as your lap top, camera, passport, and other big items, all of your other needs can be taken care of once you get to your destination.
- If you are even questioning whether or not to bring something, don’t bring it. You will reach your baggage weight limit much quicker than you expect it to, even if it looks like it fits in the suit case. If you aren’t particular about what you are putting in, you will end up having to go back through everything in your bag to weed stuff out, which wastes a lot more time.
- Speaking of weight requirements, make sure to double check the specific weight and especially the size requirements of luggage for your airline. The carry on for Air France ended up being much smaller than a typical American carry on, and I had to check the back in even though it was under the specified weight.
- I asked my friend in Italy about buying clothes once I arrive, and here is what she said:
“Regarding the clothing prices, there are both very expensive and cheaper options. In the city center, most of the shops have high prices but you can find some of them which are cheaper (for example Zara). However, there is a big shopping center which is close to Florence called Centro Commerciale I Gigli, where you can find a lot of different shops (like Primark, Zara, Piazza Italia) with clothes at a reasonable price! I would recommend to buy something here in Italy… if you go to Primark prices are really low! And, you should have a bus service from Firenze Santa Maria Novella (main train and bus station in Florence that you can reach on foot) to I Gigli.”
So definitely don’t bring a full wardrobe worth of clothes, as you can buy clothes when you arrive for fair prices.
Well, as I finish this post, I am in the airplane on the way to Italy (this article took me three days to write)! Hope these tips were helpful, and just remember that once you make it to your destination, everything will be completely fine! So don’t stress too much about the small stuff or worry about forgetting something because what is important are all of the amazing experiences you will gather while abroad.