While in London I came to a few shoulda coulda woulda realizations, mostly about packing. In fact packing is the number one thing I get asked about by people wanting to study abroad and it is treacherous terrain. Some of my discoveries:
Most of the clothing I brought with me on SA would not come home again.
Everyone has a major style shift while SA maybe because it’s a new culture maybe because you’re off campus and feel the need to step up your street style game and maybe, depending on the program, it’s because you are bouncing between school and work and need to look put together. Either way you do a lot of shopping and with the exception of a massive down jacket that was cheaper state-side I’m glad I didn’t buy much clothing before going abroad I did tons of shopping there.
Contact solution is expensive, especially in a national health care country. In England you can get cheap contact solution through your doctor and you can get fairly expensive cleanser at the drugstore but when it comes to clean eye balls you don’t wanna mess around. Buying my usual brand was more than double the price so I had a visiting friend being me a years supply from Target.
You regret the trips you didn’t take not the ones you do. This one has a major caveat – don’t spend money you don’t have. Student loans being what they are I wouldn’t take more than I needed to just for a trip, with interest I’d be paying way more for the trip than I should AND I can always take it later. Also if you don’t feel comfortable visiting a country for political or safety reasons – don’t feel like you have to. There is no rule that during SA you need to jump out of your comfort zone and embrace danger (although it sort of feels like there is). Those tidbits aside, I remember being asked to go to Morocco and not going because of cost and in the end I had the money or maybe could have skipped a few Primark trips. Once you’re on SA the options become a bit overwhelming and I wished I had actually written down the top 10 places near my SA destination that I wanted to go, before I was actually packing.