One of the hardest things about studying abroad is planning what you really need to pack for your trip. Because if you’re anything like me, you’re an over-packer. When you pack you have to make sure you aren’t over weight limit for luggage allowance and of course you want to leave enough space to bring back gifts and souvenirs for both you and your loved ones, which I did not do a very good job of: my bag was about 10 pounds overweight and I had to pay extra. In order to combat this problem it is important to know what you won’t be needing to bring with you aboard.
This of course will change depending on where and what you are studying, along with your own personal plans for your study abroad.
1. Fancy Clothes
This could include several dresses, nicer business type clothes, etc. I know this one was on my “to bring” list as well, but its best not to go overboard. In that post I had mainly meant bringing one or two nice outfits, not a bajillion like some of my friends unfortunately did.
2. Mosquito Head Net
Coming to Costa Rica I was very afraid of the threat of malaria and other mosquito-borne illnesses as I know I’m super prone to bug bites (the CDC website also didn’t help my fears much), but as my time here continued I learned this only posed a threat if I was near the beaches often. Living in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica that is located in the Central Valley, malaria is not of huge concern. The Costa Rican government also has many initiatives in place to reduce the reproduction of mosquitos, helping this problem overall. Not only that, but opting to buy some cans of bug spray instead is much more convenient and will take away the hassle of keeping your face covered by a net. If you want extra protection, there are also malaria pills you can bring with you.
3. Too Many Books
I personally love reading books and tend to use them as a way to pass time, but they are heavy and take up a lot of space. I would recommend instead to bring one long book you’ve been wanting to read, and once that is finished to check out local libraries or if you’re lucky like me, my study abroad program has a small collection of books that lets students borrow from. Some other options to physical books would be audio books or ebooks. Not only do they take up zero space, but they are also cheaper.
4. More Than Two Personal Bags
When packing I decided to bring my favorite tote purse, but this whole 10 weeks I haven’t touched it once! Instead, I recommend bringing one smaller shoulder type bag or a fanny pack, to take out with you, along with having a small backpack or reusable tote for weekend traveling.
5. Unwillingness to Try New Things
Studying abroad throws you head first into a new environment with new people that you meet in your program and along the way as well as a brand new culture. Long story short, you’re going to be uncomfortable, so its important to leave a bad attitude at home. Being open to all of the new people and experiences will truly make for a well-rounded, fulfilling study abroad experience so that you can be that annoying person when you get back constantly saying “When I studied abroad…”.
I hope all of my many recommendations will be of some help, especially in knowing what to actually pack because for me, that was the most stressful part of coming.
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