Study Abroad: Packing

So, some of you may know already that I leave to study abroad through the ERASMUS scheme very soon. I am going to France, I’m not sure whether I want to disclose here whereabouts in France yet, so for now I will just say France. Woohoo.

I should have started packing by now…but I hate packing, it is one of the triggers of my anxiety disorder, and also because of my Asperger’s I am very bad at spacial awareness and anything requiring fine motor skills like rolling up clothes tightly so they don’t crease, so I’m actualy just very bad at packing too. Therefore like any rational person in my situation would do, I am putting it off until my partner has the day off work the day before we leave to help me. Ok, maybe that’s not so rational considering we have to fit everything we and two guinea pigs need for 10 months abroad into two medium sized suitcases, plus my handbag and perhaps my Vans backpack too. And of course we will have both of our laptops in their bags, and the piggies in their ginormous IATA approved air-travel carrier. STRESS!!

I have done some reading about packing for a year abroad though and I have made some initial tentative preparations, so I have some tips for prospective ERASMUS students:

  • Make sure you pack a few plug adapters. They are cheaper to buy here than they are abroad I think. We only have two, but I read on another blog the fantastic idea of packing one or two extenstion multi-sockets, because that way you can plug in loads of things from home and only need like one or two adapters. What a genius idea. Will definitely be taking at least one, two if there’s space.
  • Pack an ethernet cable, the longer the better, because lots of accomdation abroad doesn’t have wifi, and it’s better to be prepared.
  • You will need any relevant important documents: passport, EHIC card, medical letters if you are disabled like me (and translations of them into French), copies of repeat prescriptions if you take regular medication like, vet letter if you’re taking a pet like me (also translated into French), tenancy agreement, proof of insurance, proof of accommodation insurance, passport photos, your CV in English and translated into the language of the host country, and basically a few photocopies of ID documents in preparation for opening a bank account in your host country. Better to do all the photocopying now at home before you get here because chances are you won’t have one in your accommodation and it will be a faff.
  • With toiletries, I am just going to pack mini/travel-sized versions of everything important and we will just go out and buy larger versions within the first few days. This is because it will save space in packing but also mean we won’t have to literally buy all our toiletries on the day we arrive, so we will have a few days worth so it’s one less thing to go out and immediately buy on arrival. SO I have travel-sized: soap, shampoo, shaving foam, shower gel, toothpaste, dry shampoo, heat protection spray, hairbrush and comb, hairspray, moisturiser, lipbalm, hand cream…etc. Also packing: toothbrushs in those cases you can get for them, razor with a few blades, sun-cream if like me you are going somewhere that will be very hot and sunny at least initially, condoms, nail clippers, tweezers, a generous supply of sanitary products if you know you will be menstruating whilst travelling or soon after (or just for emergency if like me you have no idea when you will start to bleed), sudocrem (so useful! small cuts and grazes, minor burns, eczema, spots, sunburn, blisters…).
  • I don’t need to pack cutlery or cooking utensils because we went to Ikea on our short trip and bought some of that essential stuff (the bare minimum to save money) and put them in our flat already, but this is something you need to think hard about if you haven’t managed to go over already to sort out accommodation and things like we have.
  • Roll your clothes, if you do it tightly enough they won’t crease much, and it saves space.
  • ONLY PACK ESSENTIALS. Anything not too costly and/or too bulky, you can buy abroad. Studying abroad IS costly, you DO need to buy a lot of essential stuff over there and leave it there at the end, but that is exactly why we get an ERASMUS grant after all, to cover the extra living expenses associated with studying abroad.
  • Cash in the relevant currency. Better to take too much than too little to start with, because withdrawing cash abroad from our British bank account usually incurs some charges and whilst they’re not astronomical they are a still a balatant robbery of your money, lol.
  • Debit/credit card(s), cheque book(s), all for withdrawing money especially until you have set up a bank account in the host country.
  • A book for the journey. 🙂
  • A generous supply of any prescription medication you need, I recommend at least a month’s worth because it could take a few weeks to get settled and arrange to see a doctor in the host country and get your next supply, more if you can get it and have the space to pack it.
  • For pets, take the bare minimum and buy as much as you can whilst you’re there. I will be taking the grids and connectors we need to create their cage, as well as a shower curtain for a temporary floor, and a short-term supply of essentials such as puppy pads, a small amount of hay, a small amount of pellets. I will also be taking their little brush, nail scissors, and shampoo. Hidies will have to be improvised when we get there and treats I can buy there, as well as more hay, and I imagine also puppy pads. I think I will have to order pellets online though as it seems hard to get hold of good quality ones where I will be living. We halso have fleece to line their cage with already in our flat there from Ikea.
  • Travel-sized stuff are great for saving space – travel towels (the type used for camping) are pricy but worth it. Travel hair dryers too; you can get some good ones these days, I have a good Babyliss one.
  • Make sure you weigh your suitcases before you go to the airport. It would be a nasty surprise to arrive there and find out you’ve exceeded your luggage allowance and have to pay extra to transport some of your stuff.

Happy packing!

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