I repacked my bags about 10 times before I left for Italy back in August, yet I somehow still under-packed and forgot items. While I am not going to give you an entire breakdown of everything I should have brought, I want to mention the most universally important items.
I am studying abroad for the fall semester, so it would make sense to only pack for fall weather, right? Well that’s only slightly true. Fall semester means you really experience a month of summer, two and a half months of fall, and half a month of winter. I highly, highly recommend looking into the specific weather patterns of your host city. I was lazy and got all of my information through word of mouth, and never looked at specific numbers. I was told Florence is the hottest city in Italy, and it only gets a little cold in December. When my Italian cousins all told me this, I thought, “Great! It’ll be just like Arizona! I’ve got this!” But my cousins are from a beach town in the south of Italy, so their perception of “hot” and “cold” is totally different than mine. To make a long story short, I do not have nearly enough sweaters and am currently freezing. Even though it’s only the end of September, it’s already so much colder than I am used to.
I have friends on the opposite end of the spectrum who are from much colder places and packed a lot of warmer clothes and ended up having to go out and buy summer clothes when they got here because it was just too hot. Essentially, pack a couple items for each season that can be easily mixed, matched, and layered to give your closet the most variation and functionality. While you’re abroad, you should be spending your money on things you want, not things you need.
I knew I would need plug adapters for my electronics when I came to Europe, but never did I considered how many items I may want to have plugged in at once. If you’re studying here you probably have at least your laptop and phone and maybe two or three other things like a camera battery charger or iPad. You shouldn’t have to buy an adapter for each one because that gets expensive when each adapter (or converter, depending on what you need) is $7-$15. There are also not always a lot of outlets available, which is a common problem I deal with at home. And how do I solve this problem? Extension cords! And did I bring any? Nope! It’s one of the simplest items yet so easy to overlook. Please learn from my mistakes and bring one with you! If you want to be extra nice and you’re staying in an apartment, you can even leave it there as a gift for whoever stays there after you!
Coconut oil is one of the best all-natural beauty hacks that has ever existed. I use it for practically everything. If you don’t already use it, I highly recommend you read up on it and buy a jar now. I left mine at home thinking I could either find it at a health store here or, if worse comes to worst, I could live without it. Well, I got here and looked around and couldn’t find it. Within a week I was already barely able to function without it. All of my roommates and I complained every single day for weeks about how much we missed this blessed oil. Luckily, one of my Italian colleagues at my internship knows where to by coconut oil and bought two jars for my roommates and me.
If I had not met this amazing woman, I would still be wallowing in the dark hole that is life without coconut oil. I suggest you save yourself the hassle and just bring a jar with you. Make sure the lid is tight and you seal it in a few zip lock bags to assure that when it liquidizes during your journey that it does not ruin any of your other items!
I learned from the movie Call Me by Your Name that there is a chance that flies could enter your home since it is so common to leave your doors open because air conditioning is practically nonexistent here. However, there is another more common flying house guest that I did not anticipate – mosquitoes! I would love to leave my back door open 24/7 because it leads into a beautiful backyard garden, but as soon as I open the door a mosquito zooms in and bites me the rest of the day.
My roommate has some mosquito repelling bracelets from Amazon that work wonders! I am so jealous and cannot believe I didn’t pack any. Definitely bring a couple because September is really hot and humid in Italy, and mosquitoes will be on the hunt for your blood during this time!
I suggest reading through ISA’s other blog posts to get some more ideas of what to pack, but hopefully I started getting your brain turning around some unique items you should be bringing!
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