MyCEA Account Log in
Forgot password | Create An Account

View All Abroad Newsletter Archives
CEA All Abroad Newsletter

How to Pack for Study Abroad

Packing for an entire semester, summer or year abroad can be very overwhelming. You don't want an exploding suitcase to rack up weight fees at the airport, nor do you want to forget anything. So what should you pack? We put that very question to our oh-so-well-traveled admissions counselors and site specialists and collected some insightful tips. Read on.

What to Pack:

  • Passport and other travel documents. Have several blank pages left in your passport and make sure it does not expire for at least six months to a year after the end date of your study abroad program. Check with your airline before booking to find out what documents it requires you to have in your possession to board your flight. An airline's requirements can differ, depending on the country's entry requirements.
  • Protect your hoofs. You wouldn't want to cut your day of sightseeing short because your shoes were not comfortable.
  • Contact solution. Make sure to bring enough for your whole trip. This is a very expensive item abroad, and you aren't likely to find your favorite brand.
  • Medicine. Bring enough for your whole trip. You probably won't be able to have any medications shipped to you while you're abroad due to customs regulations. Be sure to keep your medicines in their original containers, and have a letter from your doctor stating what the medications are and what they are for.
  • Sunscreen and bug spray. They usually can be purchased abroad, especially in touristy spots, but they will be expensive.
  • First aid kit. Include Pepto-Bismol, Tylenol, Imodium, Kaopectate, Dramamine, and a few bandages. These items can be expensive abroad and very hard to find.
  • Bathing suit. You just never know when you will find a river, stream, or ocean that you will want to take a dip in. (Although, if you do, see sunscreen and bug spray entry above.)
  • Umbrella. Don’t let rain ruin a day of exploring.
  • Sunglasses. (Jackie-Os make everything look chic, even college T-shirts.)
  • Lots 'o' layers. Weather can be very unpredictable; it may be sunny one moment and rainy the next. Be prepared with clothing that you can easily layer.
  • Leave your Garanamals. Neutral colors (black, navy, camel, khaki) go with everything and you'll blend in with more sophisticated locals.
  • Journal.
  • Camera. Take a throw-away camera or two (they make digital disposables now!) besides your regular camera in case your favorite camera is stolen, or you head into a busy market area.
  • "Um, Mom?" Store the number and access code to your international calling card in your phone and put the card in your wallet. If your flight is delayed, missed or cancelled, you'll want to notify your program's staff and your family back home.
  • Extra memory cards and batteries for your camera. These items are often more expensive abroad. Be sure to check for special instructions on packing batteries on a flight.
  • Carry cash. At least $100 USD in smaller denominations and newer bills. You may need money to cover incidental expenses for your international flight days.
  • Polyester, baby! Polyester-blend clothing isn't bulky, dries quickly, and doesn't wrinkle.
  • Extra set of clothes, documents, medicine, and some toiletries in a carry on (carry on should be the same bag you plan to use on weekend trips). Don't forget to keep some 3 floz. bottles for those instances when you'll have to go through security.

What Not to Pack:

  • Electrical adapters and converters. Often it's wise to purchase these items after your arrival. They are usually cheaper abroad and you will not risk bringing the wrong type of adapter.
  • Hairdryers and straighteners. Avoid frying your own with a electric converter and buy one at your destination. You will save room in your suitcase and will be guaranteed that it will work.
  • Nice Jewelry. Not only can jewelry make you a target for theft, but it's too easy to lose favorite items while on the move. Look for locally made, hand-crafted earrings and necklaces as you travel.
  • Enough toiletries for your entire trip. Toiletries are bulky and heavy. Pack enough to get you started, but you can always buy more at your destination.
  • Clothing with pro-American or controversial words and slogans, or revealing clothing. Although Americans are usually welcomed and very well received in most countries, avoid revealing and controversial clothing. The idea is to blend in with the people abroad and not make yourself the center of attention.

Before you start packing, check the weather as well as the appropriate clothing standards of your host country. Some clubs are more formal and do not allow athletic shoes or casual wear. Many places of worship require your shoulders and knees to be covered. Also, consider the types of activities you will be doing. Will you be hiking or attending lots of special events that require you to dress up?

One final tip:

Do a trial packing of your bag a few weeks in advance and see if you can "live" out of it for a few days. This will help you remember important items and determine what you can leave at home. It is tempting to bring your whole closet and medicine cabinet with you, but just think of all the space you will have for souvenirs if you pack smart!

CEA group in El Cuartito

Five Must Sees: Buenos Aires

1. FERIA DE MATADEROS is one of the most famous open air markets in Buenos Aires, and the only one that reflects the culture of Argentina's different provinces. It was created in 1986 to spread popular Argentine traditions. There are artisans selling interesting country crafts, bands playing Argentine folk music, people dancing typical Argentine dances and gauchos practicing some of the popular horse games. This unique Feria offers a great opportunity to enjoy Argentina’s country style and try some of the delicious typical food from the provinces!

2. El Cuartito. Buenos Aires is famous for having thousands of restaurants which offer a huge variety of different types of food. One of the most popular foods for Argentines is pizza. There are many pizzerias (pizza restaurants) all over the city but, for sure, El Cuartito, is one of the best and most traditional. This pizzeria has been around since 1934 and it´s very famous among locals, especially for people who work in the offices in the downtown area, where El Cuartito is located. Their specialty is the Fugazzeta pizza (cheese and onions), but Calabresa (with pepperoni) or four cheeses (mozzarella, parmesan, provolone and blue cheese) pizzas are also delicious! We guarantee it's one of the best pizzas you’ll ever try! EL CUARTITO is located in Talcahuano 937.

3. Grupo Catalinas. Buenos Aires is one of the cities with the most theaters in the world. Several diverse theaters are in the commercial circuit, but many theater groups come from the Independent Theater Movement that is very popular in Argentina. Grupo Catalinas (Catalinas Theater Group) is one such group. The special thing about it is its composition of neighbors from the La Boca neighborhood (the Italian area of Buenos Aires and one of the most traditional areas in the city). The group started 20 years ago in the streets and today is housed in a theater of their own. Members act, make all of the scenery, the music and the plays. Through the theater, they try to recall the value of their collective and individual stories, and also recover the memory that used to believe, and still believes, in a better world. One of their most famous and oldest plays is called “El Fulgor Argentino.” It´s not only a theater play with 100 actors on stage, but also a community celebration and a different funny, musical and ironic way of showing Argentina's history. Adding to the theater's familial feel is wonderful home-made food prepared by the neighbors to be shared with theater patrons.

4. Urban art. Buenos Aires is a city full of artistic expressions and GRAFFITI is one of them. Over the past decade, this form of grassroots urban art has become very popular in Buenos Aires. The visitor only needs to walk in the streets of neighborhoods like Palermo, El Abasto or San Telmo to enjoy the images, expression of feelings, thoughts and reflection of Argentina's history!

5. Bosques de Palermo. Though Buenos Aires is a big and cosmopolitan city, there are many parks and areas for those who like outdoor activities. In the city there’s an area called Bosques de Palermo (Palermo Woods), which is a kind of Central Park for the citizens of Buenos Aires. People usually go there to play sports or simply relax.

Meet David!

David believes studying and traveling abroad is such a great opportunity for personal growth, which is why he is so enthusiastic and passionate about connecting students to the program that is right for them. David recommends all students preparing to travel first set goals, such as what you hope to get out of the program - academically (learn a language), culturally (experience another way as passionately and unbiased as possible), and individually (what personal growth you hope to gain). Doing so will help maximize your travel experience. You will be more apt to try things that you may have never considered before, go places you might never have considered, and learn things you never would have expected.

Like most of the CEA staff, David is well traveled. He has visited Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, Argentina, Germany, France, Holland, Denmark, Spain and Italy. His favorite trip was driving down the Western Coast of Mexico with his two best friends. They were the “Three Amigos,” experiencing a new culture as young and ambitious students. They tried to do everything from going to the nightclubs to exploring the local hidden treasures. They even attempted to tour the entire coast on rented mopeds! Next country he wants to conquer? China or Japan! He has not been to an Asian country yet, and would love to add one to the list of places he has traveled. When David is not working at CEA or traveling, he enjoys exercising, hiking, watching movies, and listening to music. He also enjoys cooking and sampling new foods. One of his favorite cooking experiences was in Argentina for the Sunday Asado. It is a big barbeque with steak and empanadas.

Did you know? David has dual citizenship in both the U.S. and EU! His mother is from Germany, making him an EU citizen! He can speak Spanish and a little German!

He Said/She Said

“This has been one of the most incredible experiences, only made easier all the way thanks to CEA. I could go on for hours describing the instances that they made me feel at home, and I'm forever in debt to them. If I could demand this trip instead of recommend, I would.”

- Griffin Sandberg, Buenos Aires, Fall 2009, College of Charleston

Top 10 Reasons to Take the Train
Find out why rail travel is hands-down the most superior method of transportation in Europe. Flexibility, location and convenience are just the beginning! Get where you need to be quickly, efficiently, and economically.

10. Flexibility. Rail passes allow the ultimate in travel freedom.  The "hop-on, hop-off" philosophy does not force you to book travel months in advance.  Plans, friends, and destinations always change, and your rail pass will help you along the way.

9. No fuel surcharges. Rising fuel costs around the world are not changing the prices of rail passes.

8. Location, location, location. Train stations are in city centers. You'll be in the perfect location to start exploring.

7. You actually see Europe. Enjoy some of the most beautiful and picturesque scenery from the comfort of your seat.

6. You meet fellow student travelers from around the world who, like you, want to get the true feeling of Europe. You'll also meet Europeans and can learn anything you want to know about the continent.

5. Get your money back. Coming home early? Never left Rome? Unused rail passes are refundable minus 15% within six months of purchase.

4. The Ferry Godmother. Rail passes can be used on many ferries as well as the tracks. Check out Scandinavia or Greece!

3. I'm late, I'm late! Miss a train, and you can hop on the next one.

2. Super-sized luggage allowances without the super-sized fee. Trains will allow you to bring all of your stuff if you want to.

1. There is a rail pass for you. Check out our wide variety of rail passes. From 17 country passes to single country options, you can find a pass that fits your needs.

CEA has partnered with STA Travel to enhance our students' study abroad experience. Learn more online.