For those who plan on living abroad

kathynguyen

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My mom is sending me a package in a couple days with things that I wish I had brought (luckily it’s my birthday so I have a good excuse for getting this package sent to me despite all the complications of the Argentine Customs :)). Luckily, I brought  most  of what I want here, even though I feel like I’m still lacking something.

Things that sound superfluous but that I am super duper glad I brought:

  • MY  HIKING BOOTS. I guess this one depends on the location, but living right next to the Andes Mountains calls for lots of hiking.
  • I also brought  running shoes,  casual every day shoes  (for me that’d be a pair of regular sandals and flats), and  flip flops. But the best part about living in Argentina is that you can buy yourself a pair of  alpargatas  which are way cheaper than TOMS so you wouldn’t be afraid of ruining them (they’re also versatile and pretty durable), and for me, that covers my casual every day shoes.
  • My  Nalgene. Or any water bottle. Although it’s considered a  yanqui  item to carry around, it comes in handy on longer trips.
  • My  stuffed animals and pictures and any other small decorations. There is no doubt that once you’re in a different country, you will get homesick. These random knick-knacks help me get by, making my new home just  that much more  like my old home.
  • Any  stupid medicines  like IBUPROFEN (Tylenol, Advil, etc.), Dayquil/Nyquil, itching cream, eye drops, Pepto Bismol (for traveler’s diarrhea), COUGH DROPS. Don’t take those for granted! You’ll never know if you need them. I’ve at least found them handy. They might sell it in the country you’re traveling to, but even they do, these  might be expensive – and you’re not going to want to go to the store to buy some medicine when you’d rather be in bed. Or on the toilet. Just saying.
  • Adapters. The US plug/outlet is not universal.
  • Books and movies. Even though you’re in a different country, you’re gonna have those nights that you just want to cuddle up with a movie or a book. Like decorations, these also bring the home life a little bit closer.
  • Travel guides, tips your program may have given you, all that paperwork stuff.  You’re in a different country. You’re going to want to explore it. This will help cut down the research time.
  • Phone numbers from people at home. Just in case.
  • My  guitar capo. So you play an instrument or you draw or you climb. Bringing a guitar or a canvas or a climbing wall might be too much, but you’ll probably find one of these where you are. Might as well bring the little things that you don’t want to pay for because you already have it at home: your capo, your pastels, your climbing shoes.
  • My  coats, a hat, and hiking/wool socks.  I’m going to be in the southern hemisphere of the world where the weather is  undoubtedly  better than the Seattle weather in the summer, even though it is winter here. However, I live in the desert, so although it can be 70 degrees Fahrenheit (gotta make that distinction), it might be 20 at night. I guess this depends on the time of year and the place you’re at, but at least for me this also came in handy when I went skiing and hiking.
  • Suitcase lock. With this you can leave your backpack at the hot springs, for example, without worrying about it being opened and getting rummaged through (of course they could steal the entire thing but if you’re on a bus, a pick pocketer is not going to fumble with a lock).
  • Luggage scale.  This sounds dumb, but being a girl that tends to pack a lot and hates to pay for something she doesn’t have to, this is good for knowing that my suitcase is exactly 47.8 lbs, and that I won’t have to pay extra.
  • If you really want,  space bags. I thought these As Seen On TV products were going to be a flub, but in reality, they’re fcking great. This helps for packing those  big marshmallow coats (but this is where the scale might come in handy to make sure you didn’t pack more than you can).
  • American food. I brought two medium sized bags of Chex Mix, two boxes of Mike n’ Ikes, and a Costco size pack of Nature Valley’s Oats n’ Honey Bars. I’m trying to eat them slowly, but only one month as passed and I almost finished off the Chex Mix and Mike n’ Ikes. The bars still stand. As amazing the food will be there, your appetite so used to the stuff from home that you will keep eating and eating and eating and eating because your appetite hasn’t found what it exactly wants yet.

Things I wish I had brought so now my mom has to send them to me:

  • American food. . . actually, that’s about it. I’m having her send me an extra stock of chips and candy that I miss. And soy sauce. Because the soy sauce here sucks. And she’s sending me my  Little Bear  DVD because I forgot that and I love Little Bear because he calms me down.

Anyways, toward the end of writing this, I realized that I’m just really spoiled and can’t adapt to change on my own. I’m also just super stingy, so I don’t want to buy anything here since I want to spend my money on travel and cooler Argentine stuff than regular every day stuff. I guess this was more of a Kathy rants post than a hey-I’m-going-to-help-you-on-your-future-travels! post.

What my real advice is (of course it depends on the country, too. You can find a lot of every day products in Argentina although it may be pricey), is that when you pack to study abroad, pack as you go around your house/city for the last week and think about what you use. Don’t take anything for granted (unless you’re not as spoiled as me and think that you can live without it)!  If you wear makeup when you go out but don’t wear it on a regular basis, don’t forget your makeup or else you’ll have to buy a new container of eyeshadow that is going to take forever for you to get through since you don’t use it anyways (and you could have just brought the half finished Clinique trial you got for free walking through Macy’s). Remember that you will be studying abroad. I only brought a couple pencils, one pen, a highlighter and a 5-subject-notebook, but I wish I had brought a planner, or sticky notes, or a USB drive (which cannot be sent through the mail and are too expensive here) – things to help me stay organized and on top of my studies. It took me forever to find a planner halfway through the year, and plus it cost more money.  And remember to pack enough for the amount that you’re gone. You don’t want to leave the country and realize you are short of five tampons, and have to go to the store and buy o.b. because it’s the only brand that Argentina has and is so much more painful than it looks. Again. Just saying.

Also they don’t have peanut butter in Argentina (well they do but you have to pay like $10 for it). I don’t like peanut butter so I’m okay, but just fyi. Prepare yourself well.

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