I’ve studied abroad twice (for a semester and then all of grad school) and the packing was almost as hard as remember to go to classes. This list is a sample of what I would pack (knowing what I know now) for my semester abroad in London. Remember it is very cold there, if you’re doing a warm climate swap cold items for their hot equivalent – sweaters should be sun protecting long sleeve light tees, boots are breathable hiking sneakers, extra jeans are extra shorts which are appropriate for class (no pjs in the rest of the world).
Peek in your closet, if it’s wall to walk Dior just go shopping. If it’s wall to walk pajamas also go shopping. You need a balance of things that are appropriate and things that are almost to give-away.
Bring lots of underwear. Maybe 24 pairs. You’re going to be busy and laundry often won’t happen. Keep it cheap as all your drawrers are going in the trash in four months. If it is quick dry even better this is an adventure you may just end up camping in a jungle some nights.
Bras – get one without underwire for airports. I’ve been stopped often and there are some places you don’t want to get held up and questioned in a language you don’t know. This is also way more comfy on long flights.
Jeans and tees/tanks. You are a student and this means class. People outside of the US dress a bit nicer than we do and often there’s much more interaction with the professors. Dress respectfully. For a rainy place like London I’d suggest finding some non-denim trousers so you dry quickly after a soaking. 5 pairs of pants will do you fine and you’ll most likely ruin these all with constant travel while abroad. Tees and tanks are always a basic and what kind you get is a personal preference. I would suggest staying away from tees with words (as a woman this attracts weirdos and you don’t want this while traveling and our of your element) and especially dirty slogans (you need to re-wear a lot so assume your professor will see you, err on the side of refined). 15 tees is plenty and this includes tops for lounging around.
Brrr it’s cold! Now it’s hot… Many countries don’t jack up heat or A/C so wear layers all summer and bring sweaters all winter. Sweaters are big so bring ones you don’t mind wearing out (4-5) or pack 1 and make this a souvenir. (you will probably want a hoodie from your new uni, if it is a cold climate they will be in style and in all the store so you’ll want the new ‘it’ color/pattern, etc.) Coats are expensive, if your current jacket isn’t up to snuff buy one really good coat since exchange rates will kill you (although do research because if you buy it abroad there’s no sales tax!). My New York and London favorite – knee length black down puffer with a hood. Buy cheap hats and gloves at thrift if you don’t own crappier ones. (2 gloves, 1 all else.)
I find that party wear changes a lot per location. Ladies, being 1 club dress and 1 brunch dress (for school events). Gentleman 1 pair of khakis and at least 1 button down and tie! (Shoes can be tricky I suppose it’s best to bring your wingtips if your a non-shopaholic gent).
That’s shoes btw. Ladies – 1 versatile heel (club to brunch), 1 athletic sneaker, 1 flats, 1 shower flip flop, 2 boots. (I’m not recommending rain boots because when I went I bought expensive Wellies and they’re hot and heavy and I hate them but if you want em add 1 pair of rain boots).
Gents – 1 shower shoes, 2 sneakers, 1 dress shoe, 1 boots.
Bags – school bag, city bag (satchel with room for camera, wallet, and easy access metro card. Must have a zipper! Bonus if it can double as a carry on), club purse, small walking long strap.
The goal of this packing is to bring very few of the original things home with you. Trust me they will be gross and outshined by your new purchases. Don’t forget an extra bag home is $200 on plane and $500 shipped.