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Lighten the Load: Minimalism Abroad


A Tip for Studying Abroad and Extended Travels

I will be abroad 10 out of the 12 months this year and quite literally will be living out of my suitcase. For my semester in Seville, I wanted to try and pack lightly to facilitate my travel plans for after the semester. I ended up being able to limit myself to just a carry-on suitcase (standard American size) and a backpack.

When I told people how much I intended to bring for my first stint abroad I received some skeptical responses. There’s this notion that you’ll need to bring your whole world with you when you study abroad, but it is much better if you don’t. For one travel is significantly easier when you’re not lugging around heavy or multiple suitcases.

 Travel is often daunting, but it doesn't have to be - Bologna Centrale train station, Bologna, Italy

Stuff & Things

If you ever need something it is very likely you’ll be able to find it in your new city. You can easily cut out a ton of space by leaving behind the big bottles of toiletries and heavy school supplies that could easily be found once you arrive. Linens are often provided in CEA housing options so leave those at home and save yourself the space. With less American stuff you may also be more inclined to use typical things or unique products from the country you are studying in and you may discover something you absolutely love that you would have never encountered.

 Consider having less with you on short trips as well. I spent the long four-day weekend in Italy with just my backpack & I still had room for a few souvenirs - One of the many canals of Venice deep in the labyrinth of the city

Your Wardrobe

The relationship with clothing is much different in other countries than in the United States. In Europe and in Spain (for example) people have fewer clothes, of higher quality, that reflect more of their own personal style. Limiting your clothing could easily be equated to living more closely to the European lifestyle.

We all have those pieces in our closets that we have never worn, or thought would be our style, but it just didn’t work out. With less clothing you are more likely to avoid this by being conscious of what you have and what suits you and in turn you will feel more confident. With fewer pieces in your closet you will have an easier time picking an outfit and it will also be easier to fit your clothing into the often-tiny wardrobes abroad.

 My small-ish wardrobe

With less you’ll get more out of your experience abroad. So while you’re packing for your study abroad adventure or a long trip watching all those videos about how to pack as much as you can into a suitcase first consider bringing less with you in the first place and having less weigh you down in turn. Plus you’ll have more room for souvenirs!
 Travel lightly in every aspect of life, literally and figuratively - From a trip to the outskirts of Seville to see the skyline (accessible via the Metro @ San Juan Bajo)

Caitlin M. is the Spring 2017 MOJO Blogger in Seville, Spain. She is currently a Junior studying Spanish & European Studies at Humboldt State University. 

Caitlin McCollum-Martinez is the Spring 2017 CEA MOJO Blogger in Seville, Spain in Seville, Spain, and is currently studying at Humboldt State.
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