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Things I'm Glad I Packed to Study Abroad

Oct 21, 2022 9:45:00 AM / by Rachel Shaw

With a few weeks under her belt in Sydney, Rachel Shaw is in the best position to share how the things she packed have come in handy. She also lists the things she wish she brought with her abroad from the US. Get into this and check out her tips!

Anyone who knows me knows that one of my absolute least favorite things to do is packing, which is why getting prepared to (quite literally) move to the other side of the planet for three months was one of the most daunting tasks I have completed in my entire life. That being said, I’ve been away from home for a little over two weeks now, and I don’t think I did too poorly of a job. So, here are a few things that I am so glad I brought with me that you might want to bring with you.

On a boat with a friend in the Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Opera House in the background

On a boat with a friend in the Sydney Harbour.
  1. Kindle

First and foremost, I am so happy that I thought of bringing my Kindle with me to Australia. While I’m usually more of a physical book person myself, it is already such a challenge to keep your suitcase under the flight weight limit, so you don’t want to be lugging your entire ‘tbr’ (note: a list of books ‘to-be-read’) around with you. Not only does it help you save packing space, but if you sign up for a Libby account through your public library back in the States, you can loan out e-books and have them sent to your Kindle for free, even while in your study abroad destination. If you’re a reader in any capacity, it’s worth the investment.

Kindle on a white table

My Kindle that I never leave the apartment without.
  1. Hamper

Depending on what your study abroad location’s accommodations look like, you likely won’t have as much living space as you might be used to back in the States. So, it can be harder to keep your space organized, especially if you don’t have anywhere to keep your dirty clothes. One thing I remembered to bring that it seemed a lot of people in my program hadn’t thought of was some sort of hamper or clothes basket for laundry and also just to help keep your space clean. You can get a foldable mesh one for pretty cheap, AND it doesn’t take up tons of space in your suitcase.

  1. Suitcase Weigher

As someone who stresses over packing and all things to do with it, the last thing you want is to spend hours figuring out exactly what to bring and what to leave at home, get to the airport, and have to move things around or worse—throw them out. I got mine for just over $10 and the amount of anxiety it has saved me on this trip alone has been more than worth it.

  1. Journal

This one might seem more obvious to people, and maybe even a bit redundant, but if you’re going to study abroad make sure to bring a journal with you to document everything that you’ll experience along the way. You’ll live a lot of life in three months. It’s easy to remember the monumental, larger-than-life things, but the day-to-day will seem to slip you by easier than you think it will. I’m personally guilty of not starting mine yet, but I know that the me from five, 10, 15 years from now will thank me for any thoughts I set aside for her. Don’t forget this one, and even more importantly, don’t forget to use it.

A blank journal with a laptop and mug in the back

Blank pages that will be filled in just a few months.

And, of course, I am by no means a perfect packer. So, here is a quick list of some things I wish I thought to bring with me down under…

  1. Ranch. Seasoning. Packets. 

Or really any sort of prepackaged seasoning (as long as they’re permitted to be brought into your country). If I had remembered to bring these with me, I would have a few meals already planned out for me, which would be especially helpful in your first few days here or when life gets busy and the last thing you want to do is have to decide what food to make for dinner. Also, some countries might not have ranch or at least a ranch that even remotely compares to the quality stuff back in the US… Australia, I’m talking to you.

5 bottles of seasonings and spices

Some of, if not the first things I picked up at the grocery store
  1. Comfort Snacks

Not too many, but a few comfort snacks from home. Of course you’ll want to try a million new things while abroad… but also… sometimes you just need a pack of Gushers. That’s all.

  1. Card Holder

A card holder that sticks to the back of your phone can be useful. While preparing to go abroad I invested in a passport wallet to keep my cards, IDs, tickets, and my passport all in one easy-to-reach place. FanTASTIC for the airport… not as fantastic when you have to dig cards out of your pocket/backpack/makeshift sandwich baggy wallet every time you get on a train or try to get into your housing. Make it easier on yourself by getting a wallet that sticks to the back of your phone and keeps all of your cards in one easy-to-reach place.

Sandwich bag as a temporary makeshift wallet with cards

My last minute sandwich baggy wallet… hopefully I can upgrade soon.
  1. HDMI Cord

Get an HDMI cord to connect your laptop to the TV in your apartment. If you know that you’ll have a TV in your accommodations, it likely won’t come with a Roku/Fire Stick/Chromecast like you have at home, so I would *highly* recommend bringing something to connect your laptop to your TV. That way all of your roommates can easily project movies, games, or music in your living space and make it a more entertaining environment for everyone.

Well, that is all I have for my first week here. I’m sure as the semester goes on there will be more things I am beyond grateful I thought to bring with me, and even more things I wish I had thought to bring with me, and I hope this list will help make packing for study abroad a bit easier for you!

Thanks, Rachel!

Rachel Shaw


Rachel Shaw is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2022, sharing
her story in frequent posts on CAPA World. A Communication Arts major at Hood College, she is studying abroad in Sydney this semester.

Rachel's journey continues all semester so stay tuned.

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Topics: Sydney, Australia, Predeparture & Study Abroad Preparations