Congratulations, you have made the (correct) choice to study abroad for a semester or year during your time at college!
The concept of studying abroad is not actually much different from going to college. You are away from your family and living in a place that is new to you, pretty much on your own. Except when you study abroad, you probably don't have your parents helping you move all your stuff in - actually, you don't have enough space in your luggage for all the stuff you brought your freshman year.
The biggest struggle for me was figuring out what clothes to pack. I was use to having a whole closet full of clothes I could rotate through and not have to repeat articles of clothing for weeks on end. I had to carefully select items of clothing that 1) could be layered for different looks 2) be versatile in different situations 3) weren't so unique that people would notice I wore the same piece a week ago and 4) all fit in my single suitcase.
I scoured the internet for packing lists and asked several friends about their experience. If you're looking for some advice on packing for your semester away, look no further.
You can live with only a handful of clothes.
This may be obvious to some of you. Again, I was used to having quite a bit to choose from. I was worried about being bored with my clothes selection and not having appropriate items for specific situations. Guess what? I found that one suitcase of clothes was plenty for four months away. The semester I came back I pretty much ended up wearing those same outfits over and over because they were such staple, go-to pieces.
Dress for the weather!
Another obvious tip, but really take this into consideration. Are you going to Grenada, Spain, where it's approximately 5 billion degrees every day? Are you living in Denmark where it's gray, cloudy, windy and rainy most of the fall season? Will you be traveling to Norway or Iceland to go see the icy landscapes and backpack in the snow? What about going on a cruise through some fjords? Or living by the beach? Or visiting Budapest public baths? Or going to a fancy ballet performance? The trick is to include clothes that can be used/layered in these situation.
What do the people wear there?
Expressing individuality is good. I do so through what I wear. But man, it was painfully obvious that I was American because the fashion trends were just so different. If you want to stand out, great. I promise you will whether you wear flashy clothing or not - people in other countries can just tell we are American. But sometimes looking like a local is what you're going for. Research fashion trends in your area. I ended up buying some clothes so I could fit in a bit better - and also because their fashion was on point. I really appreciated my decision to bring my long black jacket over my bright red jacket, as everyone in Europe wore something similar (I basically wore all black 80% of the time).
If you're traveling to a country where modesty is required, you're probably already thinking about this - way to be ahead of the game!
What will you wear to the club?
Obviously you're going to go out, and some places have dress codes. I found myself in Madrid having to buy the cheapest pair of heels I could find because I simply could not go out without wearing a dress and heels - I might not have been let into the club in the first place. Then again, I had to wear my winter jacket and boots while going out and about in Copenhagen because it was too damn cold to be strutting around in typical club-wear.
Bring your sweats!
I figured in Europe I would be dressed to the nines all the time because that's what everybody else does. I packed one pair of really nice, could-be-passed-off-as-regular lounge pants that I found myself wearing all. the. time. in my host family's house. I ended up buying a pair of cheap, super soft sweatpants at a random H&M in Amsterdam because I couldn't take it anymore and needed to not wear actual pants.
If you lost or damaged that item, would you be mad/sad?
Like, so angry or sad that you would scour the internet to find an exact replica? Because if that's the case, leave that at home. In the off chance that your stuff gets stolen during your stay at a hostel or ripped/stained, you're going to either have to live with it or ditch it.
Leave space for more stuff coming back.
Or, if you are lucky and your parents come to visit, ask them to take stuff back for you. Even with my extremely limited amount of clothing, I ended up sending back quite a few items of clothing and some pairs of shoes with my parents when they visited me. I also ended up buying some things I wanted to keep, and I needed space in my suitcase to fit all that stuff.
Get "new" stuff at the thrift store!
Due to my storage/moving-out situation at the end of the school year, I wasn't able to pack all the exact things I wanted for the next semester, so I was at a loss for some clothes I had accidentally stored. My solution was to go to the thrift stores near me and browse for similar items or things that I was okay with wearing and also ditching if need be. I got a nice haul of "new" clothes for very cheap, most of which I ended up using! Your program might also have a clothing exchange from previous students; my program allowed students to leave behind anything they didn't want and incoming students had first pick of clothing, shoes and appliances before they were donated.
Remember that people who live there buy clothes there.
If you damage or lose your clothes, or are just not feeling it, remember that there are clothing stores there. If you live in an expensive country, look for thrift shops. If people who live there can figure out their clothing situation, you can, too.
Keep these in mind while packing for your upcoming adventure, but also remember: this is all one big adventure. What's study abroad without a little wardrobe malfunction? You'll be just fine.