My Life in a Suitcase: 3 Helpful Study Abroad Prep Tips

Jan 20, 2017 8:30:00 AM / by Stephanie Sadler

CAPAStudyAbroad_Dublin_Spring2017_From Nathan Overlock - Profile Photo (Choice 1).jpgNathan Overlock is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2017, sharing his story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A professional writing and information design major at Cedarville University, he is studying abroad in Dublin this semester.

In his first post, Nathan shares a few helpful tips for preparing to study abroad as he makes his way to Ireland for the spring.


Planning to study abroad is a lot like preparing for that first day of freshman year. You’ve carefully picked out a school, planned your classes, Facebook stalked your roommate (sorry Casey), researched the area, loaded everything you own into the back of a car, and now you're ready to go! At the same time, the majority of the people, places and activities that make up what you might’ve called your “life” in high school are left in the wind. Sure, you may have joined a sports team, or a theater club, or found a new coffee shop to frequent. But they’re all just a little bit new, different and, despite all the change, exciting.

Here are a few helpful tips for preparing to study abroad:  

Helpful tip #1: Not sure you’ll be able to live without that morning coffee fix? Flexible, light, inexpensive silicone coffee pour overs are your new best friend.

Except, when I board the plane to Dublin, Ireland in less than a week, I’ll be carrying everything I own in a single suitcase and backpack, and stepping off in a brand new country. And, even though I’ll be back to normal college life in a few short months, everything will be totally different in Dublin. I’ve already scouted out where I’ll get my first cup of coffee in the city (I’m leaning towards Fumbally, a ten minute walk from Griffith College), and debated which Student Union clubs and events I want to check out. But even if I find a way to keep up all my hobbies, as I intern at a job like the ones I’ve had in the past, I know the culture and country will surprise still surprise me. As much as I read about the ceaseless rain, uninterpretable slang, casual tardiness and constant tea drinking, I can’t imagine how many other small adjustments will come with moving from the back roads of Ohio an energetic global city. Honestly, I’m not sure what to expect, but I can’t wait to find out.

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Helpful tip #2: Bring mementos you can use. Most advice about bringing mementos from home abroad with you says “don’t.” But, being a slightly sentimental person, I couldn’t help packing things like my favorite t-shirt and the watch my girlfriend gave me, which I can use while still being reminded of home.

Likewise, I’ll have no idea what I’ve forgotten, what I could’ve used and what I'll wish I’d left behind until I make it to Dublin in five short days. There’s really no telling which of my tips and preparations will pay off in the end. But just like freshman year of college, I’m ready for this new adventure, to become a part of the Griffith campus culture, to learn all the quirks and idiosyncrasies of Irish city life, and to make Dublin my new home for the months I’ll be studying abroad.

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Photo: Sadly, the dog has to stay behind...

Helpful tip #3: Planning on bringing back more than you take with you? Pack a suitcase inside your suitcase! Trust me: if you can’t go for months at home without stumbling upon something you just have to have, you’ll collect even more clothes, keepsakes and other items while you travel.

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Thanks Nathan!

Nathan's journey continues every Friday so stay tuned.

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Topics: Dublin, Ireland, Official Bloggers and Vloggers