Monday, 26 November 2012


When I made the decision to go to Scotland for my Master’s, I did two things: I updated my Facebook status, and I opened up a blank document in Word titled, “Glasgow List.” Having studied abroad my sophomore year of college, I had a decent idea of what I would need to do. I listed everything, from what doctors to see before I left to what books I wanted to pack. And now, in the feeling of camaraderie with any other students packing for abroad, I am sharing this priceless list. You might find some things aren’t as important to you as they were to me, so adapt it to what suits you. I’ll highlight the things I learned from experience first, because you probably won’t find some of these things in a google search for “what to pack study abroad.” And just a note—some of it is girl specific, just because, well, I am one. It’s also tailored to someone going to a cold-weather country. Ready? OKAY!

First things first—you should absolutely see some people before you go. And by people, I mean doctors. I made appointments with my GP, dentist, OB/GYN, oral surgeon (I still have my wisdom teeth), and even my dermatologist. It’s important to have a thorough check-up before you take off for a foreign country. You want to make sure everything is working as it should and it’s a good time to talk to your doctor about getting enough of any prescriptions you might need while you’re gone.
The next thing I’ll share with you is a list of things that you should buy when you get to your host country. I have learned this through trial and mostly error on my travels. 

  1. Hair dryers/straighteners/curling iron: Nothing is more disappointing than blowing out your favorite hair tool with a foreign outlet. 
  2. Shower stuff: Bring small amounts with you in your carry-on. Unless you’re emotionally attached to your shampoo, just buy a regular bottle when you get there. It’s heavy and takes up space in your suitcase. 
  3. Notebooks and school supplies: My host country (France) had far better school stuff than the States. And you don’t really want to lug this stuff across an ocean.
  4. Cooking supplies: With the exception of #2 on the next list, buy your cooking stuff when you land. DO bring a list of spices you use a lot (if you cook) so you know what to buy.  
  5. Up next is a list of things you should bring with you…also learned through extensive errors:
  6. Jif. I know this seems silly, but I missed some decent American peanut butter when I was gone. Yes, it’s heavy, and yes, it takes up a lot of space, but sometimes a taste of home is worth it.
  7. A plate, bowl, cup, and set of silverware. The first couple of days will be really disorienting, and it’s so nice to be able to pick up a box of cereal at the store and be able to eat it like a civilized human. I ate food with my hands for the first few days. 
  8. Ramen. This kind of goes off #2, mostly because if you’re like me and prize sleep, being jet-lagged is not conducive to feeding yourself. Throw that sucker in your bowl, slurp it down, and climb back into your bed. 
  9. Towels. I foolishly thought it would be fairly simple to find a towel once I got to Paris. The problem is that you don’t know which stores sell towels, and you end up drying off with a scarf. True story.
  10. Nail polish! It’s one of those things that you think is unnecessary, but every girl needs a little polish sometimes. 
  11. DVDs. I was so glad I brought movies with me. It’s an easy and cheap activity with new friends.
  12. Sticky Tack! My room was so cold and empty when I moved in, but by the end of my semester I had filled it with things from all the placed I’d traveled. I even had an X-Ray of my lungs hanging on my wall. (It’s a long story involving visa requirements…)
  13. A small bottle of dish soap. It’s weird to wash your dishes in your body wash, mostly because then your plates smell like you.

So here’s my basic list of what you’ll want/need for a cold weather country:


Underwear x a billion. At least enough for three weeks.
Pants—jeans, khakis, black pants, etc.
2 or 3 skirts
White and black camis
A few t-shirts
4 or 5 long-sleeved shirts
3 or 4 warm and comfy sweaters
a sweatshirt (but I only ever wore mine in my room…sweatshirts aren’t very Parisian)
some going out clothes—a little skirt, cute top, whatever
a nice dress or two
A heavy coat
A lighter jacket
A leather jacket
A pair of reliable boots for daily use
A pair or two of high heels
A pair of black flats
Skinny sneakers that are NOT white. Converse are a great option.
Shower shoes (good for hostels)


Mattress topper—I would only pack this if you’re going to be gone for a long time or if, like me, you have the body of an eighty year-old
Bowl, plate, cup, and silverware
A blanket
Pictures to decorate your room


Small amounts of shampoo, conditioner, body wash
Feminine products
Hair brush/extra hair ties/bobby pins
Any OTC medicines you use regularly—Aleve, Tums, Dramamine
Any prescription medications you need
Nail file
Makeup—don’t over pack on this. Other cities may have different attitudes (most of the Parisian women I saw hardly wore any make up) and you might regret bringing seventeen tubes of mascara.


All important documents—passport, tickets, phone number of someone who could help you if you ran into trouble
$100 in local currency
Cell phone. There are great fairly cheap international plans, but it all depends on what you need. Take the time to research it for yourself, that’s the only way you’ll find the best deal for you.
External hard drive. You do NOT want to lose pictures from all your travels.
Headphones and ipod
An e-reader. If you’re a book addict like me, this makes the separation from your bookcase much more bearable. Plus, it’s really handy when you’re traveling in a country that doesn’t speak English and you need a new book.
Blank journal and pens
Glue stick and a pair of scissors!
Camera/assorted cords
Small cross-the-body satchel
A solid backpack for weekend trips
List of addresses so you can send postcards to your friends!
All foods addressed above, plus anything else you can’t live without (Grits for me!)

Whew. Quite a list, right? Lucky for you, that’s all I can think of right now. I hope this helps those of you doing the study abroad thing. If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email at:

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All materials on this blog belong to me, unless stated otherwise. I try to give credit where it is due, but the internet is a vast wasteland of images separated from their creators. If you own something I post that is not attributed to you, please contact me and I will fix it stat. STAT. Like a doctor running down the hallways of the hospital to restart someone's heart. Exactly like that.