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Study Abroad



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Packing can seem like an impossible task. As your study abroad program approaches, you may be thinking "How do I possibly fit everything I need for a whole semester into two suitcases?" Here are some tips and a list of essentials to get you started.

Packing tips

  • Pack light (seriously, pack light). Remember, baggage fees can be expensive. You will be carrying all of your luggage yourself. And you will want to save room for keepsakes and souvenirs.
  • Bring layers. Pack clothing that is comfortable, washable, and appropriate for the local climate and culture. You will find that students abroad tend to look quite polished, even when going to class. Avoid wearing sweats, shorts or pajamas on the street as it will make you stand out.
  • Check with TSA and your airline to find out the latest rules and regulations for packing as well as current baggage fees.

Sample packing list

The packing list below was compiled by a female Carlow program participant, but can be used as a general guideline for most semester study abroad students. All of these items plus clothing fit into 2 checked suitcases, (one 62" one 52") one small wheeled carry-on, and a very small backpack.

  • passport
  • flight itinerary
  • US drivers license
  • debit card
  • credit card (Visa or Mastercard - NOT Discover)
  • cash - US dollars and/or foreign currency
  • insurance cards
  • bank statement (for customs to ensure you are not a debt evader)
  • glasses/case
  • contacts/case
  • contact solution (travel size)
  • eye drops
  • make up
  • hair products
  • lip balm
  • deodorant
  • small tube lotion
  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste
  • nail clippers
  • comb
  • hair ties
  • bobby pins
  • sunblock
  • jewelry
  • razor
  • Dramamine (motion sickness pills)
  • Ibuprofen, cough drops, anti-diarrhea and cold medicine
  • prescription medications (it's best to bring enough for the full duration of program)
  • copy of prescription including generic name of drug and what it is used for
  • waterproof tennis shoes
  • waterproof hiking shoes
  • 1 pair flip flops
  • dress boots
  • slippers/house shoes
  • gel inserts for shoes
  • purse 
  • wallet
  • money belt
  • international phone (bought from previous student) and charger
  • international calling card
  • mp3 player, charger, computer transfer cord
  • digital camera, charger, computer transfer cord
  • laptop, charger
  • voltage adapter, converter
  • web cam
  • flash drive
  • battery travel alarm clock
  • key ring
  • small, waterproof backpack
  • water bottle
  • sunglasses
  • small binoculars
  • journal
  • pen
  • safety pins (safety pin zippers on bags together to slow down/prevent pickpockets)
  • small length of stretchy rope to hang clothing in room with hooks on each end
  • small sewing kit
  • contact/glasses prescription (in case would break or lose them, would be able to fill)
  • International Student Identification Card
  • travel guide for destination
  • acceptance letter from overseas institution
  • gum
  • waterproof jacket
  • winter coat
  • warm gloves
  • winter headband
  • winter hat
  • wool socks
  • sheets
  • down comforter
  • towel
  • hand towel

Things to leave at home

  • hair appliances such as hairdryers or flat irons
  • uncomfortable shoes
  • clothing that is overtly American
  • expensive jewelry
  • anything that can not be replaced