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Moving Abroad for School? What You Should Take with You

August 12, 2015 | Packing Guides & Tips

Whether you have a study abroad in your future or you plan to pursue a graduate degree at an international school, you have a lot of preparation ahead of you. You have to leave your family and friends behind, secure your finances, and decide what you want to take with you. You also have to get all your documents in order, including your passport and your visa.

The sheer number of preparatory steps may overwhelm you. However, we want to help you with at least one of those steps: deciding what to take with you. Below, we’ve given you a list of five things you should take with you and three things you should not.

What You Should Take

  1. Passport, Visa, Temporary Address, and Foreign Spending Money

You already know you need your passport and visa to enter and stay in the country. And if you have an extended stay, you will also need a temporary mailing address. That address should correspond to your dorm or host family’s home.

Additionally, you should take out $300 in your new country’s currency. You’ll need this money for basic purchases in your first few days there.

  1. Basic Clothing

If you go abroad for school, you’ll spend far more time studying and sightseeing than you will worrying about your wardrobe, so you only need the basics. Pack two weeks’ worth of clothing, and supplement it with new purchases once you arrive if necessary. Your two weeks’ supply should include:

  • Pajamas
  • Undergarments
  • Tops-mostly T-shirts and tank tops for layering
  • Jeans (and leggings, if you prefer them)
  • One or two jackets
  • A coat, hat, and gloves (if you plan to study in a temperate or cold climate)
  • One or two pairs of basic walking shoes
  • Workout clothes (including shoes)
  • Dress clothes (including shoes)

If you have room, you can also bring a few accessories like jewelry, scarves, etc. However, you shouldn’t worry about accoutrements too much.

  1. Bedroom Basics

You’ll need towels, washcloths, sheets, pillows, pillowcases, and a blanket to feel comfortable in your dorm or host bedroom. You should also consider small decorations to make the room feel more like home, but don’t go overboard.

  1. School Supplies

These supplies include your laptop and charging cord, but don’t forget to get an adapter. Many foreign countries don’t use the same outlet configuration that Americans do.

Additionally, purchase normal school supplies like pens and notebook paper. You may also need flashcards or a calculator depending on your needs. Simply purchase the school supplies you would normally use.

  1. Extras

Your foreign study won’t feel as fulfilling if you don’t document it. Take a camera with a large memory card, and keep a diary. You’ll thank yourself later.

What You Shouldn’t Take

  1. Toiletries

Many students make the mistake of packing basic items like toiletries. You don’t need these items cluttering your suitcases or boxes because you can simply purchase them once you arrive. Give your giant bottles of shampoo and conditioner to your roommates, and dispose of anything they don’t feel comfortable using, like deodorant or toothpaste.

However, you don’t have to go without these items until you go to the store. Insteplanead, put small, travel-sized shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, deodorant, contact solution, feminine supplies, and makeup in your carry-on.

  1. Seasonal Outfits

As mentioned above, you only need a basic set of clothes for two weeks. You don’t need to bring every sweater, necklace, tie, or pair of shorts you own. Instead, pack clothing you can layer.

  1. Personal Comfort Items

You may feel like you need a few keepsakes to remind you of your family and friends while you live abroad, but you don’t need as many as you think. Bring family pictures, one familiar blanket, and a couple knickknacks if necessary, but don’t let these items occupy more than 10% of your total packing space.

Bekins would like to assist in providing you more information about moving abroad. Visit  our page dedicated to international moving references & resources to learn more.

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