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Packing Lists for Studying Abroad

Note: Apologies this is being posted on Wednesday instead of my usual Monday. Since this was my last week in my host city, my parents came to pick me up and I didn't have a chance to get this up on time (I had to add all the photos!)

This was my last week with my host family, and while this came with the excitement of seeing my biological parents - in France, with my host family (which was amazing), it also came with the bitter feeling of the end.

When I was packing to come over to France, I honestly didn’t fret too much over what I was going to bring. Though in general, I don’t find packing to be very stressful. Maybe it’s because I wear basically the same thing every day.

In total, I probably spent four-ish hours packing everything. This included going around the house and collecting random items, stuffing liquids into plastic bags, and then tetris-ing everything into my suitcase, duffel bag, and backpack.


These are some lists and tips to try and help you decide what to pack. Everyone’s different and has different needs, so my lists should be considered suggestions.

Now, the things you’ll end up using and not using will depend on the climate of the place you’re living in and what activities you end up doing, but make sure you do your research. I looked at Wikipedia quite a bit to find out about the climate, and tried to pack accordingly.

Things I brought but never used:

  • The suit pants and vest that I brought as a nice outfit
  • My winter puff coat
  • My winter hat, gloves, and earmuffs
  • All my exercise shirts except for one
  • An American notebook
  • The big water bottle from CIEE
  • A big tube of rash cream
  • A reflective armband
  • My TI-30 calculator (I'd also brought the nspire my school requires us to buy)
  • My contacts
  • My extra set of glasses
  • Two european USB adapters that were not actually the proper shape to go into the outlet

Things I brought and used, but could’ve done without:

  • My heavy sweatshirt I was wearing as a winter jacket
  • Money belt
  • The pens I brought with me
  • A folder of paper
  • Some Magic: The Gathering cards
  • Cinch sack
  • Bar of soap

Things I bought while in France (that weren’t food, movie tickets, etc):

  • A scarf
  • Two t-shirts
  • A pair of pants
  • Pens, glue, white-out, ruler
  • Notebooks, paper
  • Accordion folder
  • Agenda/planner
  • 2 booklet-type things that are made up of page protectors

Things you should probably plan on buying:

  • Pencil case (or else bring one, I guess)
  • All your school supplies
  • An agenda (if you don't use one at home)
  • Other random stuff that you're going to have a hard time stuffing into your suitcase (trust me it's gonna happen)

Some quick tips for packing:

  • Don’t take your entire wardrobe. Bring enough for 7-10 days. You'll probably buy clothes while there too
  • Roll your clothes. It can make it easier to fit all your clothing into your bags. It’s up to you to judge whether rolling or folding will prove to be more practical (ex: rolling a t-shirt is more space efficient that folding, but the same isn't really true for a bulky sweatshirt) which brings me to...
  • Avoid bulky items. They take up space and are probably more trouble than they're worth
  • Try to pack your carry on pretty light. Those are the things you'll be manually carrying around the most, probably
  • If you can't decide whether to bring something or not, it's probably okay to leave it at home. If it turns out you DO need it, you can probably buy it somewhere in France (or whatever country you're staying in)
  • Pack with a bit of room to spare. You're going to buy things, and you're going to want to bring them back home with you. So think ahead and make sure you have a bit of wiggle room for fitting in all your souvenirs on the way back
  • Don’t overthink it too much. Sure, it’s stressful figuring out what to bring with you for a 5+ month trip, but it doesn't have to be complicated. Bring a few of your favourite outfits/shirts/pants/shorts and enough underwear and socks to last you a week, toiletries, and a few other things for entertainment, etc.


As for me, I'm all packed up. I leave (or left) my host family today Monday (I’m not sure when exactly this will go up). Having my families together was really great. Now I'm going to be visiting the north for a week, during which I'll be meeting up with a friend from Chicago who happens to be vacationing in France at the same time as me.

To be honest, I don't really want to go up north. I'd much prefer to either stick around Montauban for another week or else go directly home, but I'm sure it'll be lots of fun.

I will miss my host family very much, that’s for sure. I couldn't have hoped for anyone better. 

Weekly Recap

  • Last week in montauban.
  • Played basketball with some friends during our lunch break Tuesday 

IMG_7434Playing basketball at the nearby sports complex

  • The music school I was going to had arranged a surprise party for my leaving (which was super nice) 

IMG_7454The director of the music school and me, with the baton he/the school gifted me

My host mom also had me make rice Krispie treats (which I'd made the week before for the family) for the school to surprise them. I didn't want to because I didn't want to make a fuss, but it turned out alright!

  • Had my last day of school, and said goodbye to pretty much all my classmates 
  • The Festiv’Albias, a rock and roll festival that my host parents help organise happened 



  • My bio parents and brother came to came pick me up 

IMG_7497My host mom, my mom, me, and my little brother

IMG_7518My host parents, my parents, and my brother

This week, I'm doing lots of tourist-y things in the north of France, so I'll have a very picture-filled post for you (maybe) next week Monday. Or maybe Wednesday.

Anyways, it was a wonderful last week in my host city. It was a great 5 months, and these coming days touring around with my family will be awesome as well!