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The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

My top five tips when packing for a semester abroad

Emma Sutton / Hilltop Views
Obviously, Topper needed to be shoved in my carry-on suitcase too! He’s just another thing I packed with me to remind me of home.

Cramming your entire life into a few suitcases isn’t easy. You’re constantly weighing options and asking questions. What do the local people wear over there? Which shirts should I bring, and which should be left behind? Those are some of the many questions I asked myself as I began packing to move across the globe to Galway, Ireland as a part of St. Edward’s University’s study abroad program. I struggled, but hopefully my struggles will help prospective study abroad students, as I’ve compiled my top tips for packing.

  1. Do your research. Researching the city and country that you will be moving to is a must. You will need to know what the weather is like in your area and pack accordingly. For example, I moved to a coastal city in January; the weather in Galway this time of year is normally chilly (below 40 degrees Fahrenheit) and rainy, so I packed clothing that would keep me warm in the cold, Irish winter. Also, do your research about campus life and campus activities — YouTube is a great place for this. I watched vlogs from Irish students already attending the university so I could get a grasp on what life is like. 
  2.  Overpacking is a no-go. Nobody wants to be that person sitting on the floor of the airport rearranging their belongings to fit the 50 pound maximum weight limit of their suitcase. I tried to make my suitcase a capsule wardrobe. In my capsule wardrobe, I brought things that I could easily mix and match and knew I would be wearing often. This is great for creating outfits with fewer things in my closet. For me this was denim, a few jackets and loads of sweaters and long-sleeved shirts to layer. Be sure to leave your hairstyling tools at home, because the wattage between countries varies, and you don’t want to burn your hair off or start a fire.

    Whatever makes you feel at home can help ease the homesickness when you’re abroad. (Emma Sutton / Hilltop Views)
  3. Prepare to spend some money upon arrival. Know that you are going to be buying things once you get to your destination. You will see how locals dress and will want to pick up a few things to conform to their fashion tastes. When packing your suitcase, allow for some extra room to pack the things you picked up during your many travels. Since moving to Ireland, I go out more often than I did in Austin (sorry 6th Street, the Irish pubs are way better), so I bought a few more tops after I saw what people were wearing out and will want to bring them back to SEU in the fall.
  4. Pack for the activities you plan on doing. Depending on what your interests are, you’ll get involved in different things on and off campus. I like doing yoga, so I made sure to bring leggings and tank tops to stretch in. As I mentioned previously, do some research on your university and program to find out what extracurriculars you may want to try. They’re a great way to make friends and get to know people. 
  5. Bring whatever makes you comfortable. Many times, I was asked “why are you bringing that when you can just buy one there?” or “do you really need this?” Yes, I do need that framed photo of my dear cat, Chris. I feel that if you want to be comfortable in a new space you must make it comfortable. I brought a lot of the same decorations to Ireland that I normally have on the walls of my St. Andre apartment. Whatever makes you feel at home can help ease the homesickness when you’re abroad. 

Overall, my number-one piece of advice is to do your research and to be comfortable, whether that means comfortable clothing or a comfortable space. Pack what will bring you joy and keep you going all semester long. It can be hard being away from friends and family, but studying abroad is a decision I can’t imagine regretting. Happy packing!

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About the Contributor
Emma Sutton
Emma Sutton, Staff Writer
Emma Sutton is a junior a majoring in writing and rhetoric with a concentration in journalism and digital media. It is her second semester writing for Hilltop Views and first semester as a staff writer. She loves writing about all things pop culture but also has a soft spot for baseball.

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    Tate BurchfieldJan 26, 2024 at 10:34 pm

    That goat is totally adorable!