How to Pack for a Semester Abroad
Embarking upon an abroad adventure is the first step towards expanding your knowledge of both yourself as well as the world that exists beyond you. To enter an entirely new atmosphere, surrounded by strangers, it is natural to attempt to find comfort in things familiar. When I began to think about what I wanted to take with me on my adventure, the first items I grabbed were my favorite hoodie and a pair of worn sweats that reminded me of home. The brutal truth about traveling, however, is that the safest and most comfortable way to enjoy a foreign place is to immerse yourself completely.
What to Pack
While it depends on the country you are traveling to, it is no secret that many countries and their residents are not the biggest fans of Americans, and sometimes tourists in general. This is not to say people aren’t going to love meeting you and showing you their city; they are. However, wherever you go, you will largely want to fit in. So, my first piece of advice is to understand the street style of your destination. Google, per usual, is a great first place to start.
European Dress Style
Europeans, for example, generally dress in darker colors than Americans. Leggings, and athleisure in general, are rarely worn in public unless the individual is working out. Most locals wear jeans or trousers, boots or stylish sneakers, and a pea coat on top of a cute yet simple t-shirt or blouse. If there are any two categorical items I could emphasize most, it would be stylish and nice pants and the pea coat. Almost everyone I have met in London who is studying abroad with me either brought these items or went out and bought them upon arrival when seeing how integral they were to everyday wear.
Generally, wherever you may be traveling to, they will dress with generally more class than Americans are used to. Cropped tops, booty shorts, skin-tight short dresses, etc., are all items to leave behind. Instead, opt for a series of shirts, pants, long sleeves, dresses, turtlenecks, etc, that can be layered and exchanged to create a wardrobe out of only a few items. If you can layer it, bring it. With a limited amount of packing room, remember you have small closet space and will be dragging your suitcase around the city to get to your housing, you want to bring the essentials and only a few statement pieces.
Keep your individuality, dress how you feel represents you best, but also make conscious choices about your environment. Sticking out as an American, and as a tourist, is rarely beneficial. To be the best you in the most comforting sense, let your abroad experience guide your packing list, yet not totally define it. Let foreign countries inform your style, and help to shape your own culturally diverse individuality.