How will I fit everything I need for several months into one suitcase? Knowing what to pack and what not to pack are very common questions. The following frequently asked questions should help guide your way as you begin to pack your belongings.
Many study abroad programs will give you access to computer labs, so having a laptop is not 100% necessary. This said, if you are someone who likes to do homework in the evenings, late at night, or early in the morning, then you probably will want to take your laptop as many computer labs may not open during these times or on the weekends.
This said, do not expect to have internet access from your room. Many foreign countries have WiFi in internet cafes and on university campuses, but many homestays and apartments abroad may not have internet access.
Talk with your cell phone provider to find out what options you have for using your U.S. cell phone while abroad. Many students choose to buy or rent a cheap cell phone once they arrive in their study abroad country.
Pack light! Airlines have very strict baggage limitations, so it is imperative that you check your airline to see how many pieces of luggage (usually only 2) and the maximum weight allowance per luggage (usually 50-70 lbs per suitcase). Keep in mind that you will be responsible for carting your own luggage, and this may include on public transportation, on stairwells, and on uneven or unpaved roads or sidewalks. Remember that you will most likely accumulate souvenirs while abroad and so you need space to bring back those items, and shipping packages is very expensive. Housing with most study abroad programs will provide you sheets but you may need to provide your own towel.
In the United States, we use 110v electrical system. Many countries abroad use other electrical systems such as 220v or higher. Almost all laptops and cell phone chargers, for example, are compatible with both systems, but you need to check your equipment to ensure that is compatible with both systems. If your device is not compatible, then you may need to buy a voltage converter. Please note that higher voltage devices, such as hair dryers, may still short out even when used with an electric converter. Therefore, we encourage you to consider purchasing such items locally at your destination, or purchasing dual voltage items prior to departure.
This said, you will need to have an outlet adapter (for most countries), as the outlets in many foreign countries are different than ours in the United States. It is sometimes easier to buy cheap electronic devices (blower dryers, flat irons, alarm clocks, electric razors, etc) in the country where you are studying, instead of purchasing converters and adapters for your U.S. devices. Adapters are readily available in the U.S. and in most countries abroad.
It is a very nice gesture to bring your host family a gift from the United States. You do not have to spend a lot of money, but something thoughtful is usually appreciated. Arizona and UA souvenirs make good gifts for host families.