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What NOT to pack when Studying Abroad

Updated on Jan 04, 2024 · By Rachel

Okay, now I know what you’re thinking. You’re going abroad for probably the longest amount of time you have ever traveled, what do you pack? How much do you pack?  And what is considered too much? I am here to give you a couple of tips on how to pack for going abroad and most importantly what NOT to pack. 

Some of these items may seem self explanatory, but when I went abroad there was no one to tell me what exactly not to bring for a long journey and more specifically how much to bring. Looking back I would have packed much less than I did so as to avoid some of the problems of having the most amount of baggage. 

As go over seas states in their article it may seem logical to pack a huge suitcase seeing as you will be gone for a long period of time. However, this is not the case. While you are abroad you will accumulate things just as you would back home, so it’s important to bring only the essential items for when you arrive. You'll be thankful for this when you are not having to lug three full size luggages through the airport, or be charged extra for having overweight baggage. 

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Basic Packing Tips

It's important to pack the essentials when going overseas. This means passport, visa, power adapters, face masks and any COVID paperwork for entering the country. For more basic tips on traveling to Korea visit our blog post “Tips You Should Know Before Coming to Korea.” Additionally, If you will be in Seoul or wherever you are studying for a semester or longer consider packing lighter than you normally would. You will purchase more items while you are abroad than you think, and if you luggage is fully packed on the way there than you will really struggle for the journey home.

Additionally, research the countries fashion trends to make sure that you are being respectful of the culture. For example, in Seoul, people tend to dress more modestly than in westernized countries such as the US, this means not showing your shoulders with tank tops or showing a lot of cleavage. For more information on Seoul fashion trends visit our blog post, “What not to wear as a Foreigner in South Korea.” 

What NOT to Pack

Now let's get into the fun stuff, here is a basic list of what not to bring when studying abroad. Keep in mind, you don't have to live by this list, if you really have a book you think would be useful to you we can't stop you from bringing it, but maybe reconsider before finalizing your packing list. 

1.) Avoid Overpacking

Okay fashion lovers, I am speaking directly to you here, when I studied abroad I thought that I needed to be a fashionista so I brought sooooooo many clothes, but I am here to tell you that it did not pay off. The fashion culture was different from my own back home so the clothes that I thought were “super stylish,” were now pretty basic. My advise would be to pack a couple of your cutest items and then purchase a couple while you are abroad, that way you don't overwhelm yourself with too much baggage and you also have a mix of your own clothes and fashionable items that you bought in the country you are studying in. 

This also means don't pack more than one full suitcase, a suitcase and a carry on is okay, but anymore than that will get to be a bit much. What they told me when I was packing for my program was, “if you can't comfortably walk around the block with your luggage, than you have too much,” and there could not be a truer statement. 

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2.) Full Size Toiletries

The country you are traveling to will have full size toiletries such as shampoo and conditioner for purchase upon arrival so avoid packing large amounts of liquids such as these as they will only make your luggage heavier. This also means full size containers of other hair products such as mouse, detangler, hairspray, etc. You can opt to bring travel size toiletries for your arrival and then purchase full size later. 

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3.) More than 4 pairs of Shoes

Okay, now I know what you're thinking.

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I know you want to bring the multiple pairs of cute sandals that you own, some cute heels, shower shoes, and tennis shoes for every occasion, but trust me, you don't actually need that many pairs of shoes. I mean granted you will look cute in all of the 9-pairs of shoes that you bring, but you will look just as cute in the only 4-pairs of shoes that you should bring. So go ahead and take out those 5 extra pairs of shoes that you currently have packed and stick to the essentials, you'll thank me later.

4.) Books & Journals

This one might seem obvious, but you'd be surprised as to just how many people use journals and notebooks, myself included. When I studied abroad I thought it would be a good idea to bring my journal, notebook for work, my language learning notebook, and also a coloring notebook for the plane. However, can you guess how many times I actually used each of these books on my journey? You guessed it, very seldom. So if you are packing and you think to yourself, “what if I want to..." or “it would be fun to…” just go ahead and place that book back on your bookshelf because you will not be using it. 

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5.) Hair Straighteners, Curlers, & Blow Dryers

The country that you are studying abroad in may have a different voltage than your home country, therefore if you don't use the correct voltage adapter you may ruin your hair straightener, curler, hair dryer, etc. It is easiest to purchase these items once arriving in the country that you are staying in. There will be local stores that sell affordable versions of these products. 

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6.) Bedding

Any bedding that you will need can be purchased in the country that you are traveling to. If you would like to bring a set of sheets and it doesn't overwhelm your baggage than I would say that's okay. Otherwise, avoid bringing pillows, blankets, comforters, or stuffed animals, because it will only crowd your luggage and leave you with less allowance for the necessary items. 

For more tips on how to pack we found Asher Ferguson's website really helpful. 

You know what you need to do. Good Luck!

Source: Know Your Meme  

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