Now that I have been an exchange student for almost 3 months, I thought I should share some of the things I have learned/ wish I knew before going abroad. I remember reading every blog about traveling for a year in search of the answer to my many questions. One thing I wish I would have had is a list of the must-have items, since I could only take one suitcase. Below, you will find 14 items I have found to be necessities for studying abroad.
*F.E.S. stands for Future Exchange Student
- Bookbags- I brought one UO small black backpack and one waterproof large Patagonia backpack. Backpacks are the ideal bag for traveling and school!
- Wallet w/ a coin pouch- Europeans use coins and cash a lot more than Americans. When you buy things, the change is almost always in coins, since they have coins with larger values than the States. Here is a similar Vera Bradley wristlet
- Passport holder- As an exchange student, it is very important to keep your passport with you at all times. While this could be dangerous, a passport holder is the perfect solution. It can hold you bus pass, passport, and I.D. without anyone else knowing.
- Laptop- While your host family will most likely have a computer, it is so much easier if you have your own laptop. You can do schoolwork, e-mail friends and family, and anything else at your own leisure.
- Adaptors- As soon as you arrive, you will want to charge everything. Make sure that you buy the correct adaptor for your country, or you can buy a new phone charger in your country when you arrive. Amazon is a great place to look for adaptors.
- Watch- Since Swiss people are extremely punctual, a watch is a necessity. Buy a watch in the States, because it will be a lot less expensive!
- School supplies- While you can buy everything you need at the store once you arrive, it is nice to already have a few pens, pencils, a notebook, and a folder for the first day of school.
- Agenda- Agendas are a great way to stay organized and write down memories. Each day, I write down my homework and a funny thing that happened that day. Agendas are also a great place to write down addresses from home and birthdays.
- Home country items- I wish that I would have brought more items from the USA. Bring candy, photos, mini flags, and other souvenirs. They are great to put in your room and to give away to people you meet!
- Home country flag- You would think this is obvious, but I actually forgot to bring an American flag! It is a great prop for when you present your country at school and pictures when you visit places. I love taking my flag on hikes and trips to take pictures.
- Camera- This can be your I Phone, a Go Pro, or a real camera. You are going to want to document all of your adventures.
- New toiletries- While your host family is very kind, it is a little awkward in the beginning. It makes everything more comfortable if you have all of the toiletries you need for about a month or two. By the time you run out of your products, you will feel comfortable enough to ask your host family to take you to the store or go by yourself. (Girls- I brought enough monthly products to last me at least 6 months.)
- Walking shoes- Europeans walk everywhere and shoes are expensive! You want to make sure you have a good pair of sneakers you can wear with everything, but won’t have blisters by the end of the day.
- Water bottle- Bringing a reusable water bottle is a great way to save money. I bring my bottle with me everywhere, and it has saved me so much money. Plus, it will help you retain a healthy lifestyle.
I hope that these tips help you in your preparation. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me on the contact page or leave a comment.