Mosaic / Special Topics / Study Abroad / May 25, 2011

So many things, so little space: study abroad packing tips

Before studying abroad, students struggle with what to pack and if they can actually make it fit. Here are a few things students have brought with them and what they brought back.

Junior Joyce Lee

Locaton: Osaka, Japan

Items brought:


-Toiletries, laundry hamper

-Special holder for passport

-Stuffed animals

In reference to the stuffed animals she packed, Lee said, “My friend gave me a Halloween-themed Beanie Baby and a Thanksgiving-themed Beanie Baby and said, ‘This is what you’re gonna’ be missing.’”

Lee said she brought back “random gifts” and “trinkets,” such as keychains and toys that represented Japan, to give to people back home.

“My friend brought back special made chopsticks with her family’s name engraved,” she said.

Senior Sundee Perkins

Location: Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland

Items brought:


-A camera

-An address book

-A stuffed unicorn

-Pictures from home


To remind her of home, Perkins brought a stuffed unicorn and stones. Perkins said she started collecting stones with her mom when she was little and she continues to collect them, filling her room with stones. While she studied abroad in Ireland, she would collect stones from the places she visited.

Perkins said, “I’d go down to one of the beaches — like Brighton Beach is a pebble beach so I’d just collect stones from there or if I was at a castle, I’d just get a stone from the grounds just to remember it by.”

Bringing back three or four pounds of stones on the plane with her proved to be a challenge because authorities did not want them to go through security.

However, Perkins said, “I did get special permission to bring my stones back home … and seaglass. I have a jar of seaglass that I had collected.”

She said, “Seaglass is glass that had been left in the ocean and washes up on shore and had been smoothed and polished.”

Junior Emma Gingold

Location: University of Franche-Comte (Language Center) in Besancon, France

Items brought:

-Older clothes, things she could donate

-Her teddy bear

-Boyfriend’s sweatshirt

-Pictures sent from her mom and newspaper clippings

Gingold said she tried to be as “economical as possible” when packing because she knew she would have to carry her luggage everywhere and that she could buy new clothes, toiletries and medicine during her stay in France.

“I brought back Dijon mustard,” Gingold said. “Legitimate from Dijon and they have like a million different flavors so I brought back six different flavors for my family.”

Gingold also left France with a new wardrobe and “of course, a million brochures … of museums.” She said there were a couple of places in Besancon with Roman ruins because Besancon was during the time of Julius Caesar.

Sophomore Evan Feeley

Location: Barcelona, Spain

Items bought:




-Basketball, dress, casual shoes

-Rain jacket/winter jacket


-A pair of beach shorts

Feeley said he should have checked to see what the temperature and weather was like in Barcelona before he packed to go to Spain.

“It was hot over there in the fall. It was like our summer pretty much,” Feeley said. “So yeah, I probably should’ve brought more shorts.”

Some of the things Feeley brought back from Spain were finger puppets for his niece, a salt-rock rose from a mine for his girlfriend, scarves representing football club teams Español and Barcelona and a mask for his sister.

Feeley said, “I bought my older sister a mask. Everywhere I go in the world, I buy her a mask … even though it’s not a traditional Catalan mask—because they don’t really do that over there—it was a gypsy kind of mask.”

Feeley gave some advice for other students studying abroad after saying he brought a jar of homemade preserves for his host mother. He said, “Whenever you have a host parent, you should bring them something.”

Junior Juliette Campbell

Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Items brought:

-“Way too much clothing”



-Photos to show host parents

Campbell said she packed too much for Argentina when looking back on it. “When you study abroad, there are going to be so many things you see at street markets and neat boutiques that you want to buy and it’s going to be really hard to bring those things back without donating.”

Like Feeley, Campbell said she should have paid attention to the weather before packing, making the mistake of “pretending it was summer” when it was winter in Argentina. She cautioned future students studying abroad near the equator to bring sunscreen, even if it is winter.

Campbell said she tried to spend most of her money doing events than on material things while in Argentina. However, she said it was essential that it was essential to bring back Mate, a special tea very popular in Argentine culture.

She also brought back a wool sweater decorated in alpacas and fine Argentine wine to share with her grandmother. Her host parents gave her fashion magazines to give to her sister as well as dulce de leche, a caramel-like confection.

Campbell revealed one thing of special value she brought back from her experience while studying abroad, saying, “My Columbian friends gave me a bracelet of Columbian colors—red, blue and yellow—as a memory to always remember them.”

Giving one last piece of advice, Campbell said, “…My parents have always said I could’ve been raised by Gypsies because anywhere that I am is home. Anywhere that you are, you have to make it your new home because you don’t want to be too sad when you look at all the things you brought with you that remind you of home so you have to find a balance.”

Sheena Leano

Tags:  packing list packing tips study abroad

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