The countdown has begun: In less than three weeks, you will be walking the cobblestoned streets of Scandinavia.
If you’re starting to think about packing, great! You’re transferring your life for a whole semester, so it makes sense to spend some time on it and make sure you’re as prepared as possible. Here is a non-exhaustive list of tips from my own experience that I hope will be helpful for you all:
- Bring Layers
When you arrive, the weather will still be very pleasant, with many hours of sunlight every day. I’d pack at least a few warm weather outfits, especially if you’re planning to travel to more southern locations. That said, I hope you’ve heard by now that it gets cold here, and that’s certainly true, too. Make sure you have good clothes for layering: sweaters, tights or long underwear to wear under your pants, and so on. Ideally, you want to wear something that will protect you while you’re outside and afford you a couple layers to take off in a well-heated building.
First and foremost, make sure you have a good winter coat! Mine goes down to my knees, and I definitely appreciate having the extra length. Also, I was never a scarf person before coming to Denmark, but now I’m all about them. Scarves, hats, and gloves are a must. I have a pair of warmer fleece gloves, and a couple pairs of the cheap, one-size fits all gloves that you can find at Target, Walmart, and almost any other store; they definitely come in handy. Especially if you’re planning on biking while you’re here, bring a rain jacket. I wear glasses, and I’ve found that having a baseball cap also helps to keep the rain off the lenses.
- Keep Your Feet Warm
Bring something sturdy for winter. If you’re walking around in Converse in December, you’re not going to be a very happy camper: canvas is just not very good at keeping out the cold. I highly recommend bringing a pair of warm winter boots. The city streets are generally pretty clear, and I didn’t find myself needing snow boots. However, I did end up using my hiking boots for various adventures outside the city, so I was very glad to have them. Think about the kinds of activities you’ll be doing, as far as you know: where does your study tour go? Are you doing any of the optional travel tours? Whatever you decide, try and prepare your footwear, because it can really make a difference. Good shoes for walking! And bring warm socks! A fresh pair of socks = fresh perspective.
- Tylenol and Cold Medicine
Denmark and Sweden have restrictions on what kind of medication is okay to bring into the country, so definitely check your facts before you leave! Information can be found here for Denmark and here for Sweden.
- For the Train Rides in Between
I bought myself a Kindle before I came, and that has proved to be super useful while traveling. I rent eBooks from my home state library to read or buy them off of Amazon. The DIS and local libraries have a pretty good selection of English-language books, so it’s not a necessity, but it definitely makes packing for travel lighter if you’re a reader.
- Regarding Your Baggage
Everyone is different. I know many people who bring just one suitcase or hiking pack worth of things, and that suits them perfectly fine. Others really need three bags, and that’s fine too; it’s your prerogative (and your airline’s – make sure you check the fees for overweight bags and extra luggage, because it can add up $ $ $). Personally, I brought two full-sized suitcases (each had to be less than 45 pounds) and that was a good amount because I ended up having leftover space to take things back with me when I returned to the states.
- To Consider
You’ll be traveling on study tour at least, and many students travel on their own time as well. Think about what bags you have at your disposal. I used my hiking day pack as my carry-on when I came over, and I’ve been using that for trips under two weeks long. You may want to consider packing yourself small duffel to use when you’re taking short trips or going on short study tour during Core Course Week.
- How I Wasted Space
As a student, I brought bulk-sized shampoo and conditioner. It was really heavy (like 7 pounds!) and while those things are somewhat expensive here, it made my suitcase overweight, so I wouldn’t pack it again. However, it does make sense to stock up on small toiletries like toothpaste and deodorant (all the deodorant here is aerosol cans, so if you like your Speedsticks, make sure you’ve got them with you!). I also wasted a lot of space on school supplies like binders and paper. Those things you can get here without much trouble and on the cheap, so I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’ve got some extra space (and weight) in your suitcase.
I hope you find this helpful! Keep in mind that this is meant as advice, and definitely not as a complete packing list. If you only pack the things I mention, you’ll end up without any underwear, which you probably would not be too happy about.
Happy travels, and vi ses (see you soon)!
A suggested packing list can be found in the Pre-Departure Handbook. Please be sure to reference this information as you prepare for your term.