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Pack for Your Study Abroad Semester

This time last year, I was preparing for my semester in Bangalore, the third largest city in India. I’d never traveled for such a long period of time away from home. In a single suitcase, I needed to pack everything I needed for three and a half months. I didn’t even know where to begin.

If you’re studying abroad next spring, I’ve compiled a list of style staples to get you by. Despite where you’re traveling to, you will still be able to rock these clothes (mostly) where you go.

Leggings. Leggings are versatile. You can wear them out or to bed. Stock up on some pairs if you only have a few. I bought five different pairs to bring to India alone. Keep in mind what you’ll wear over them. In India, women are expected to cover themselves, so I’d always have to wear leggings with a long shirt to accompany them.

Oversized flannel. Wear this with your leggings! Plus, it’s comfortable to wear overnight. If you don’t already have a shirt like this, shop on the men’s side or search a thrift store. The only I brought with me abroad didn’t cost more than five dollars.

Jacket. Even if you’re going somewhere warm, bring some sort of jacket or coat with a hood. I made this mistake last year. Although you’d think India is always hot, I traveled to the mountains, where the temperature dropped nearly thirty degrees! It was nearly forty at night. A poncho, too, isn’t a bad idea.

Satchel purse. I often wore a backpack during my travels, but in the city, I frequently worried about pick-pocketing. Consider investing in a satchel purse that wraps around your body. Your hands shouldn’t be far from the opening. It’s best to have the purse close to your waist, instead of dropping closer to the ground. Additionally, I advise against carrying valuables, such as a smartphone or wallet with personal information, because of the possibility of theft.

Sneakers. Athletic sneakers fulfill the need for comfort and durability, but personally, I despise the way most fit on my feet. I much prefer Converse. When I went abroad, I thought I could take sneakers anywhere. However, I realized later that neon Nikes wouldn’t go with every outfit I brought along. Make sure you feel confident about the sneakers you bring with you.

An outfit to go out in. Depending on the culture you’re traveling to, it’s not a bad idea to put together a cute outfit to go out in. Consider the length of necklines and skirts. I suggest a pair of skinny jeans with a flowy top. In Bangalore, I wore leggings with a long-sleeve tops that covered back bottom, both pieces black. Chances are, you’ll need a nice outfit for a special occasion, even if it isn’t nightlife related, too.


Photo courtesy of Stefanie Mauro

Open toe shoes. Even if you’re going to a cold climate, it’s nice to have around a pair of shoes to walk around your room in. You might even want them for your shower, especially if it’s communal. If you’re going to a warmer place like I did in India, it’s vital to pack a durable pair of open-toed shoes that will last. I made the mistake of relying on a cheap pair of flip-flops — they lasted no longer than a few weeks! Be proactive.

Are you studying abroad in 2016? Have you studied abroad before, and if so, what were some important pieces you packed? Tweet @decorcione with your answers!