Tag Archives: packing tips

how to take it with you: packing for study abroad

Dear future study abroaders,

If you are anything like me, you are probably panicking right now. After all, you’re leaving for a whole semester in less than a month – how the hell do you pack for something like that? I made list upon list from May up until the day before I caught my plane, and as previously discussed, I still failed miserably.

So here’s my (incomplete) guide to building a study abroad wardrobe. It’s not everything you need by any means, nor is it everything you want. But it’s a start. Pick and choose from each category, prune where you want, and add in what you’ll die without. Just try not to go overboard – those baggage fees are no joke.

To see all my tips, read on!

Continue reading

Tagged , , ,

oh the weather outside is weather…

snuggly sweaters and lacy layers.

Well, it’s finally happened: fall has arrived. Last week clouds rolled in, the wind was blowing, and I finally started to understand why everyone’s senora freaks out about bare feet in the house – these tiles are freezing. And along with all the rain and chill breezes came a deep sense of regret for items left behind.

Yup, I packed too light.

It’s a little hard to believe, actually. I’m one of those people who lives in perpetual fear of needing something I don’t happen to have on me. On any given day I’m most likely carrying on my person a bottle of Advil, perfume, a travel-sized toothbrush, five bobby pins, and my external hard drive. I mean, I literally brought thirteen pairs of shoes with me for three months in Argentina. Thirteen! I had to buy an extra duffle bag and transfer them all over from my huge suitcase in the middle of PDX just so I’d be under the weight limit.

And yet, here I am, freezing my tail off in southern Spain because I failed to pack anything warmer than my favorite blazer.

Of course, I’m well-aware of why this all came about. Airline baggage policies have changed quite a bit since I flew to South America: in 2008, I was allowed two 50-pound suitcases plus the normal carry-ons for international flights. On my way here, I had to fit my whole life into one 23-kilo square, plus the duffle I lugged over a dozen pairs of shoes in three years ago. All things considered, that’s not a lot of space. But I figured, as my mother repeatedly said to me as I edited my wardrobe down to airline regulation size, they do sell clothes in Spain. I wasn’t permanently limited to what I could stuff into my measly 28-inch box.

Two months in, I can tell you from personal experience that yes, they do sell clothes here. But they sell clothes in euros. With value-added tax. And no Forever 21s. So yeah, I’ve been doing some shopping out of necessity. A girl can’t live in sundresses and pink shorts alone. But it definitely would have been a good deal cheaper in the long run to pay the extra baggage fee.

Learn from my mistakes, future study-abroaders: pack what you need.

That said, I’m pretty excited about my recent additions to my wardrobe. I’ve been slowly adding fall pieces, one or two at a time, and I think I can reasonably say that I’m prepared for colder days ahead.

my closet - finally almost full!

So what have I bought for fall? Let’s recap, shall we?

1. Cocoon coat in a lovely shade of tobacco (Pull&Bear)
2. Foliage/leopard-inspired printed dress (Pull&Bear)
3. Wide-striped sweatshirt dress (Stradovarius)
4. Cozy gray cableknit sweater (Oysho)
5. Pink and camel striped mohair sweater (H&M)
6. White lace tee (Zara)
7. Black stacked-heel ankle boots (H&M)
8. Black mini-dress with Stella McCartney-esque polka dot sleeves (Zara TRF)

Notice the trend of WARMTH. I was taken by surprise when the stormy weather blew through, but I will not be defeated by a little wind and rain. So if you’re planning some time abroad in Spain, make sure you come prepared; my blazers definitely aren’t enough.

the h&m boots - less comfy than they look, but so worth it.

I’m less than thrilled about the amount of money I’ve spent on this capsule wardrobe, but at least it’s all pieces I can wear back home, too. I have to remind myself that I’m not shopping on a whim here. While I’m excited about everything I’ve bought, it’s all necessary to a certain extent: I can’t run around in 40 degree weather in my sundresses. I needed some substantial clothes. But to those of you preparing for spring semester abroad, a word of caution: sometimes it’s worth it to pay for the extra baggage! Make sure you pack for weather from freezing temperatures to humid and rainy to dry and 100 degrees. This city is insane; choose your clothes wisely.

dresses in neutral colors for mixing and matching.

As the departure date for spring study-abroaders approaches, keep an eye out for packing tips from yours truly! I’ll do what I can to keep you from making the same mistakes I did.

Tagged , , , , , ,