Study Abroad 101

This tab is for future study abroad-ers or for those going on long vacations. I will post some of my suggestions and observations I accumulate throughout my semester abroad. I am by no means an expert, but already have experienced some “Oh I’m so glad I brought this” and some “Shoot…. Mom was right, should have brought that” and even some “This was a waste of space” moments.

Recap of my program: I am studying in Galway, Ireland for the entire semester. It is a smaller city located on the Western coast, known for being the arts and music “capital” of Ireland. IT RAINS A LOT. For anyone going to Ireland, please bring a rain coat! With a hood!! If you come during the “winter” months I would also recommend it being a fairly warm jacket.

I will also be traveling to other parts of Ireland and several other European countries while I am here, so packing correctly was essential.

What I brought: 


8 total scarves, and I have used every single one multiple times! I packed them all tightly in 1 space bag.


The hardest part… shoes.



This is supposed to last me 4.5 months?

I have 1 long sleeve drifit tee, 1 short sleeve drifit tee and a short sleeve cotton tee and 2 pairs of shorts for working out/ lounging. I have 7 sweaters, ranging from bulky to thin so I could layer them if necessary. I brought a puffy vest- HIGHLY RECOMMEND! One flannel of course! Also my cowel-neck knit sweater that is sweat-wicking (bottom left) has been a favorite for outdoor activities!

I brought 3 “dressy” tops for nights out, 2 basic long sleeve tshirts, a few basic camisoles and LOTS of undergarments. Everybody needs a good jean jacket, and I brought mine to avoid separation anxiety, it goes with everything!!

I also have 2 long-sleeve dresses, 1 maxi dress and 2 skirts that can be dressed up for a night out or down to go to class in. I have 2 paris of thermal leggings, 2 pairs or normal leggings, 2 pairs of  blue jeans (1 dark and 1 light) and 2 colored pairs of jeans. *This is one thing I brought too much of. I would have packed more shirts/ sweaters and fewer pants.*

I have 3 pairs of boots, a pair of running shoes, a pair of converse, pair of shower shoes and one pair of sandals. I would HIGHLY recommend either bringing a lot of scarves/ accessories or plan on buying them in your destination country- they change up an outfit, and can easily be used as blankets, pillows, etc. The pictures do not include what I wore on the plane: sweater, leggings, parka, scarf and my bulkiest boots.

REGRETS: Not bringing more sweats. I only brought 1 sweatshirt, thinking that because Europeans “dress up” for daily life, I wouldn’t be wearing it much. I have a lot more down time than I anticipated, and it’s nice to lounge around in. I didn’t bring any sweatpants because I never wear them at home, but the heating in homes isn’t as good here so sweats are necessary! I went out and bought a pair of cheap, men’s sweatpants. If I were to pack all over, I would pack 1 pair sweatpants, 1 heavy sweatshirt and 1 lighter pullover if I had space. I also didn’t think about bringing pictures from home but I had my parents mail me some (thanks mom and dad) because my room was looking a bit sterile.

MINI- WINS: My number one packing WIN was bringing “space- saver” bags. They are AMAZING! I was able to fit a lot more in my suitcase, and I use them for dirty clothes bags on weekend trips. When I go for a weekend I usually just bring a back pack so the a space bag is crucial to pack 2-3 outfits in one back pack.

Next, I actually brought full-size toiletries with me. Every blog I read told me to wait and buy them there, but it has been nice having a simple luxury from home like your familiar shampoo. When I run out, I will buy Irish brands but it has been nice for the first month! Also this will free up some space on the way home for souvenirs (read: my new collection of wool socks).

Bringing my pillow was a tough decision, but I am glad I did. With an extended stay (4.5 months) it was worth it to me. Maybe you’re not as attached, all the power to you, but I sleep like a baby. I brought it on the plane with me so it didn’t take up space.

Aside from my rain jacket, I didn’t think I would need my heavy winter coat but Jenni Harms (shout-out!!) told me I should and I am so glad I did! Again, I wore it on the plane to save space. It doubled as a blanket! It gets damp cold here and I’m glad I have my parka to keep the cold out for the winter months. I’ll send this back with my parents in April.

Don’t stress about packing, but definitely THINK about each thing you bring. It’s purpose, how much you love it, how often you will use it, etc. Don’t play the “what if” game. You will not be invited to a fancy ball, don’t bring a fancy dress.

Last word of advice for now, bring sturdy shoes! You’ll be walking a lot. Also pack lots of undergarments because doing laundry is a hassle and expensive!

More regrets: Bring or plan on buying a robe and slippers. Sometimes you just want to be warm after a shower and a towel just doesn’t cut it.


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