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How to pack for your year abroad


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So you know where you’re going, your parents are already worrying about, well… everything, your university has overloaded you with Year Abroad information and all of a sudden its time to pack! I’m just about to finish my YA so here is my list of the essential items you need to take with you…

1. Adaptor plug. It might seem obvious, but it’s small and easily forgotten and despite what you may think. Three-pin adaptors are not easy to find in lots of European countries and they can be very expensive.

2. A camera. You need a good camera to document all the cool exciting things you see and do on your YA.

3. A mini dictionary. (Or even a phrase book), at some point you will be faced with having to know some bizarre word in your language (mine was ballcock valve... our toilet broke – it is robinet à flotteur in French, in case you were wondering) and I was very glad I had my dictionary on hand to explain what was going on!

4. Laptop! Lots of European universities don’t have as good computer facilities as UK universities, and Internet cafes are a pain. This way you can keep up with your assignments, stream English television, stay in contact with your friends and family and make them all jealous with copious photo uploads on Facebook.

5. A scrapbook – don’t roll your eyes! whether you’re crafty or not, it’s a great way to save all the fliers and ticket stumps from places you’ve been to throughout the year. It’s also a great place to write down memories, stick photos, cards and just amass all sorts of crap that you will treasure in years to come when you look back and reminisce upon your YA.

6. A light jacket – You probably rolled your eyes at your mum when she said this but even if you’re going to the South of Spain for your year abroad it can get surprisingly cold in the evenings. Some European fashions are rather questionable so pack your trusty Topshop jacket so you don’t end up having to buy a neon pink blazer out of desperation. Be wise – pack one!

7. Student card / Youth rail card. This is more of something to get when you’re there but it’s an essential item. You can get amazing discounts, cheaper travel and can use them as a means of identification. (You can even get discounts on the Eurostar!)

8. Photos or reminders of home. Just like moving into halls in first year, it’s nice to have something homely in your room when you’re so far away. It’ll definitely make you feel more at home so don’t be ashamed to pack that old tatty teddy you’ve had since you were five years old.

9. Staple clothes. While it may seem like a ‘girly’ thing to worry about, it’s important to consider. Fashions in countries vary a lot, and whether you’re working or studying, you’ll notice that the kind of clothes people wear are a lot different to what we’re used to in the UK. Obviously, what is ‘staple’ varies from person to person, but it’s always handy to have a good pair of trousers, a blouse/shirt and some smart shoes – just in case.

10. Comfort food. Being thrust into a new country with a whole different range of food can be a bit overwhelming. A lot of things that we’d consider to be standard items on the shopping list are just not available in some countries (or cost a fortune as they are ‘international’ and ‘special’.) I guarantee you’ll be craving PG Tips/ Percy Pigs/ Cadbury’s/ Bacon once you’re out there so don’t forget to pack a few goodies!

The most important this, whether you pack everything you need or not, is to enjoy yourself!

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