What to bring:
1. Extra Room in Your Suitcase
It may seem silly to pack all of your things into a suitcase and leave extra space, but trust me you will end up needing it. Between shopping for yourself and for your friends and family back home, you will wish that there was just a bit of wiggle room to throw in that t-shirt your sister wanted from your study abroad city. Rolling clothes saves room too, and vacuum bags are a blessing in disguise, so make sure to talk to people who have traveled light before and get extra tips.
2. A Positive Attitude About Spending Money
One of the hardest parts of being young is that you don't have a lot of money yet. Or maybe you do. Either way, it's never easy to watch the conversion rate eat away at the hard earned money you got from scooping ice cream over the past summer. But one of the things you have to tell yourself is that you will never be in that place with the same situation again. Don't make yourself feel uncomfortable of course, but also realize that it's a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience new things in you host country. So buy that ice cream, splurge on a fancy coffee and go on the weekend tour of the countryside and you will never regret it.
3. Photos From Home
This was one of my favorite things to pack! Photos to show your new friends of where you live and who your friends are will help break the ice if you run out of things to talk about. Plus, they can get to know you through what you like. If you get homesick, it's a nice reminder of what you get to return to with the new photos from your study abroad trip. My friend and I go through them and I can tell her the stories of how the events happened ,which is a great way to feel close to home again.
What Not to Bring
4. Too Many Shoes
I know it seems silly, but this was a real struggle for me! I love shoes, and sometimes having the right pair can complete an outfit. But, there's no sense in bringing three pairs of boots if only one is your favorite. Bring one pair of each kind (sneakers, sandals, boots, etc.) that you love and are versatile, that way you can pair them with more than one outfit and save space. Use that rule for most of what you pack and keep it easy with layers that can match with multiple items. The less you have to carry, the better!
5. Worries From Home
Of course, none of us can just shed the past and become a new person, but studying abroad sort of gives you the chance to do that. By going to a new country and making a life there, you can grow into who you want to be. Bringing past history into a new place leaves the chance to move on. I take archery lessons at home, and one of the best quotes I've heard is, "An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backwards. When life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means it's going to launch you into something great. So just focus, and keep aiming." Know that even if things get rough, you're moving into a great part of your life.
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