These are all questions I had to ask my friends who are now study abroad alumni too!
Trust me, packing for the next four months of your life can be extremely challenging but it doesn't have to be!
My number one piece of advice, which I learned the hard way, is: DON'T PACK THE NIGHT BEFORE YOU LEAVE!
I am guilty of this. Rather than starting to pack a week and a half before I left for Italy, which was my original plan, I spent the majority of my last day at home playing Tetris with my luggage. I don't recommend it and that's one of my regrets of my experience.
Here are a few basic study abroad packing reminders:
- Pack light - meaning you will only need about two pairs of jeans, not the three you threw into your luggage just now.
- You will become an OUTFIT REPEATER and don't worry because everyone else does too!
- A small can of bug spray or itch cream doesn't hurt. In Italy, lots of my friends and I experienced bug bites after a day/night out.
And last but not least...as you are double checking that you packed everything you wanted and needed to pack...here is my list of "What I wished I packed before departing for Viterbo, Italy"
- Ziploc Bags in various sizes (mostly sandwich and gallon) - Viterbo didn't sell regular plastic bags to pack lunches or snacks in so most of us either used plastic wrap, foil or the only thing close enough to Ziploc...a freezer bag with a twisty tie to close it.
- An extra pair of headphones - My iPhone headphones broke about halfway through the semester and even though some stores sold headphones they were only a euro or two and they weren't good quality. One of my friends went through three pairs of them. I was lucky enough because a friend of mine gave me an extra pair she brought from home.
- Movies on a Hard Drive or in a cd case - Three of my friends brought movies this way and I am so bummed I didn't think of doing that before I went abroad. It rained quite a bit during the Fall and in Viterbo when it rains it pours, so having some movies to watch when the weather is bad is always a good idea!
- Peanut Butter - There is peanut butter in Viterbo. However, it is expensive and doesn't taste as good as Creamy Skippy or Jif. So if you like peanut butter make sure to bring some but PACK IT IN YOUR SUITCASE or else security will take it.
- Cold Medicine - I packed Advil but that was it. I only got sick once while studying abroad but when I was ill I wish I had brought DayQuil pills, throat lozenges and even a small cough medicine bottle.
- A regular shower towel from home - The towels in Italy were tiny. So small in fact that that the towels left in my apartment for us to use didn't even cover my bottom. A shower towel from home may be bulky in your suitcase but I would highly consider bringing one because even when I bought a new towel at the mall it was still too small to cover my entire body.
- A Microfiber towel for travel - My friend Jen brought one of these and it was great because it was compact and fit in her backpacking backpack perfectly. Another perk is that it dried quickly! Most of us just paid one euro at the hostels for a towel which isn't bad but it would've been nice to have something handy.
- An extra European Adapter - I brought a travel pack converter/adapter set which contained one European adapter and one day after one of my journalism interviews I forgot to take my adapter with me when I unplugged my laptop. Thankfully, I was able to retrieve it but having a back up European adapter is a smart move in case you misplace the one you brought.
- Pictures from home of Friends and Family - Since I packed at the last minute this didn't even cross my mind but having a few pictures of friends and family is a nice way to decorate your room! I had a cork board right next to my bed so I asked my parents if they could print out some pictures and send them to me with their letter.