Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Packing? Pas de Problème!

Tuesday, August 13.

Packing has begun in earnest at the Bloxam household and let's just say, it's one of the more difficult experiences of my young life. It's not like I've never packed before. Every year during my childhood summers, I spent weeks loading Barbie dolls into my Going to Grandma's carry-on for a few weeks of family visits in the USA. Back then, moms were in charge of boring things, like clothes and toothbrushes. In more recent years, I've stuffed suitcases and backpacks for weekend school excursions and week-long trips to the beach. But to pack a suitcase for FOUR MONTHS? Honestly, I can't even imagine.

For some reason that most likely stems back to homework procrastination, I started making a list a few months ago. It's strangely simple, divided into categories and neatly organized on -- what else? -- a PowerPoint slide. Clothes. Shoes. Toiletries. Food (the sole entry here is JIF Peanut Butter, which according to rumors is not available in France). And, most descriptively, "Other Stuff" (a comprehensive list of everything from "favorite book" to "camera batteries").

To help quell the quickly-descending panic, I've been doing some packing-related research. Turns out, I'm not the only college student studying abroad to keep a blog! (Huh...) In addition to other student blogs, I've been able to find some great sites and lists, courtesy of other universities' study abroad programs. Check out some of the most helpful resources below!
  • This Basic Packing List for Study Abroad (courtesy of a self-described "study abroad junkie turned photographer") divides necessities into essentials, clothing, toiletries and miscellaneous. She also provides a helpful section that explains not just WHAT to pack, but HOW to pack it. Particularly helpful tip? While many brands are available internationally, some toiletries (especially feminine products) might not be sold where you're travelling!
  • La Petite Fille Abroad is one of my new favorite finds. She has several packing-related posts, and you can find all of them here. Another post details her personal flying tips, from asking the flight attendants to fill up your water bottle to bringing your best moisturizer onboard!
  • This University of Illinois article called Things to Learn Before you Leave is pretty great! Even though the first suggestion is "don't take a lot of stuff" (a theory to which, I'm scared to say, I do not subscribe), the article is extremely helpful. It provides a sample packing list (although again, it's worryingly short). Particularly helpful hint? Use safety pins to lock your zippers and prevent pick-pocketing!
  • Don't let the simple PDF format fool you: this packing list from Oakland University is one of my favorites so far. In addition to listing the items you should pack, they give reasons -- flip flops are great for showering in hostels, dictionaries are cheaper to buy in the States, etc. They also give some quanities to refer to when packing clothes ... although, again, I can't say that I'm going to be sticking too closely to those!
  • Getting tired of reading what TO pack? Here's What Not to Pack for Study Abroad. Although some of these tips felt a little obvious (well of course, I'm not bringing a suitcase full of hangers!), some were also extremely helpful. Particularly helpful tip? Don't pack shampoo and conditioner! They weigh down your suitcase and, besides, you can buy them easily in your host country!
I'm sure that there are billions more study abroad sites and blogs with lists just as good if not better than these ... and sometime in the near future, I'm sure I'll be posting my own packing list and suggestions! But for now, I figured I'd share my finds.

Ultimately, I know that I know better than anyone what I'm going to need, use, and wear while studying abroad. After all, although these people have experience on their side, they don't know me and how much I absolutely need to bring my new white Keds. But I'm not going to lie, reading all these posts and articles is already making me reconsider my (supposedly well-thought-out) packing lists! Since I first googled "what to pack to study abroad" an hour ago, I've already updated my list of toiletries, put back a few shirts and nixed a couple pairs of shoes.


  1. I'm just thinking of how you will look back on the packing in a few months and just giggle. Love you, so happy you are going.