There are plenty of packing lists floating around the internet; we even have several practical ones on this site. This is the other list. A different kind of packing list; this is the list of things you don’t realize you want until you don’t have them.
HDMI/DVI cable: This cable connects your computer to your television and is totally vital for watching things as a group. In the world of study abroad internet TV is pretty ubiquitous and every group has their own preferred methods for finding their favorite shows (special sites, downloads, file sharing). Wouldn’t it be nice to watch some of these ill-gotten treasures in a group setting without having everyone in your apartment huddled around your laptop? Do yourself a favor and pick up an HDMI cable now, before you leave to avoid spending way too much on a product you’re not sure will work from a sketchy Amazon marketplace storefront.
Battery Charger (and rechargeable batteries): I don’t know why, but there’s something about going abroad that leads to excessive battery consumption. I’m not going to speculate about what requires so much power, but about a month into your program you’ll probably see your classmates go on a hunt for low cost batteries. Guess what, batteries are expensive. Do yourself a favor and pack some rechargeable ones (don’t forget the charger) and avoid wasting time and money on a battery hunt.
Travel Coffee Cup: In the midst of a packing process that involves fitting your entire life into 55kilos or less, creature comforts like the mug you drink your coffee from every morning on your way to class usually get overlooked. But if you’re clever, you’ll pack one. You may not have a fancy espresso machine in your study abroad digs or even an old school percolator but if drinking coffee or tea is part of your daily routine at home, you’d better believe it will find a way to creep into your life abroad. Pack your favorite travel mug and avoid spending too much on one that never feels quite right from some random shop abroad.
Flash drive: We’ve mentioned how important these are before, but you can’t say it enough. Nothing is more important during study abroad than a flash drive (or for that matter a portable hard drive). You’re going to be sharing movies, tv shows, music, and papers with your classmates. You probably won’t have your own printer so you’ll need a way to get your work to your professors. Make sure to pack plenty of extras.
Sports Gear: Frisbee, football, basketball. You might think you can buy these things in your study abroad location and you might be right, but you’d be surprised how expensive things can get and how little you want to deal with the shopping trip. Frisbees are flat and balls can be deflated for easy packing. Make room for something to keep you entertained and you won’t be sorry.
Sriracha: This one is personal. I love this super spicy miracle sauce and I’m not the only one. Sriracha is available all over the world, except (of course) where I happened to study abroad. Disaster! I ended up bribing one of my fellow study abroaders to bring a bottle back with her after a winter break trip to the states. The lesson here is, if you really love something (like pay $40 for international shipping love it) make space in your luggage for it because if you don’t you'll surly regret it.
As always, do your research: Before you get too far into packing do some research on your study abroad location and pack wisely. In some places it’s important to bring your own sunscreen, in others floss and deodorant are expensive luxuries. In some places condoms are unreliable and feminine hygiene products are nowhere to be found. Do you research and remember you’re packing up your whole life so don’t forget to pack some of the fun stuff too.