To Pack or Not to Pack?

So as promised, I’m updating the blog again – another post about the wonders of studying abroad (don’t worry, they won’t all be like this). First: some backup information. I spent a solid few hours of the day crawling Atlanta with my Mom trying to find cheap places to load up on warm clothes for my trip. That’s the thing about studying abroad for a semester: you’re definitely going to need to pay attention to those winter months, especially when you’re a Southern girl like me – used to warm temperatures – and you’re going to be in Europe. Right now I’m preparing my packing list and trying to figure out how all of my stuff is going to fit into one checked bag and one carry-on. It’s a bit of a struggle – I’m aware that I will most likely be sitting on my luggage forcing the zipper shut by the time this is over – but I wanted to share a checklist of some of the things I’ve decided to bring with me. If you guys think I’m over- or under-packing, or if you have any suggestions before I leave on Wednesday, please don’t be afraid to comment and let me know!

So, without further ado, here are some of the things I’ve decided to take with me:

  • short sleeved shirts, tank tops, and blouses
  • long-sleeved shirts and turtlenecks
  • jeans and slacks
  • leggings
  • dresses
  • skirts
  • bras and underwear and socks
  • waterproof jacket
  • windbreaker
  • warm, waterproof boots
  • walking shoes
  • warm hat and scarf
  • winter coat
  • sweaters and sweatshirts
  • warm pajamas
  • small purse (that can be hidden under coat in case of pickpockets)
  • travel-sized first aid kit
  • disinfectant wipes
  • insect repellent
  • sunblock and sunglasses
  • alarm clock
  • backpack
  • small duffel bag (for weekend travel)
  • swimsuit and flip flops
  • rain gear
  • a formal outfit
  • makeup and makeup remover
  • digital camera
  • laptop
  • converter
  • feminine products
  • towel and washcloth
  • soap
  • toothbrush and paste, mouth wash
  • face cleanser and brush
  • hair products and tools
  • pain relievers
  • school notebooks, pens, folders, etc.

I know it’s a long list and I’ve been trying to cut it down but honestly I’d rather overpack just a little than underpack. Nobody wants to arrive in a new county and realize they didn’t pack any underwear (trust me, done that). I’ve also decided to pack gifts for my roommates in Prague. I read the handbook for the program and they suggested bringing a gift for the Czech buddy that would be rooming with me and three other students for the semester so I decided that I would go ahead and bring gifts for everyone (since it would be kind of awkward to only bring gifts for one person out of four).

But, speaking of handbooks, here are a couple of tips I’ve come across while getting ready. First, read the handbook. That’s a no brainer and you’ll probably do that anyway without me saying anything, but if I hadn’t read that little booklet before I’d gotten on the plane I totally would have missed the packing list hidden on the upper left corner of a middle page and the suggestion to bring a present for my Czech buddy. Apparently that’s a custom of the culture and a good way to make a first impression. Which brings me to my second tip: learn about the country and/or city before you leave. Prague is relatively conservative and formal, at least compared to what I’m used to, and that extends to the clothing and behavior of foreigners. Checking the typical weather of the place is an obvious must as well. If I hadn’t done that research, I might have thought that my normal winter coat would’ve been okay. Now I know better – I’m packing a down jacket that’s good for up to 20 degrees below and a hat with matching scarf, earmuffs and gloves. And lastly, you don’t have to pack everything. I know that’s rich coming from me and that crazy long list I just posted, but often times the program you’ll be attending will already have some of the things you need. For example, mine already had bed sheets, linens and pillows, so that’s a few less things I have to worry about.

So that’s all I have so far. I don’t know if I’ve packed too much or too little, but I guess I’ll find out by the end of the year. And when that time comes I’ll make sure to post about it so that you guys know too!