Almost every time I travel, there is always some item I wish I brought with me, and some items I definitely could have left behind. I confess that I am an over-packer, so packing to live in Germany for four months was a struggle for me. Choosing what was actually necessary to bring was important, otherwise I would try to pack all of belongings. I did a lot of research and planning to figure out what all I should take with me, so here are some of my tips I found relevant to my stay in Germany.
1. You’re probably not going to get everything right when it comes to packing. There can be many unknown factors of where you are staying, so don’t be disappointed when you need to buy something you weren’t expecting. For example, I found out upon my arrival that my apartment provides a short Ethernet cord to connect to the internet even though I live in a modern building. Some of my friends in other apartment complexes had Wi-Fi, but it really depended on where you lived. My MacBook allows me to create a Wi-Fi hotspot so I can connect my phone to Wi-Fi, and I bought a longer Ethernet cord so that I can watch Netflix in bed, so my internet situation wasn’t so bad after a while. I also knew people who bought routers to untether themselves from a cord, so that is something to keep in mind. Either way, there will be unexpected purchases, which is part of the experience of living somewhere unknown.
2. Researching the climate of your country/region is essential. Germany can be very cold in the winter so I brought plenty of warm clothes such as boots, gloves, hats, sweaters, and a good, warm coat. As the weather turns warmer in the spring I made sure many of the clothes I brought could transition from the winter. Germany probably won’t get much past 60 degrees Fahrenheit by the time I leave, so I didn’t need to pack many warm-weather clothes I would wear in Kansas. The one thing I wish I realized was how much it rains in Germany. Otherwise I would have waterproofed everything. Instead I learned the hard way with several days of wet feet before I brought waterproofing spray.
3. The worst part for me being a habitual over-packer is that I love to bring back souvenirs. This can be challenging when I am packing to head back home. One thing I tried to do to remedy this was to pack items that could be left behind in Germany. I brought nearly all my toiletry items with me so that I could use them and leave them in Germany. My logic was that if my suitcase was full of things I wouldn’t bring bringing back, I couldn’t use that space to bring things I didn’t need. Then, I should have plenty of room to bring back my souvenirs. Some of the items I am thinking of are my shampoo and conditioner bottles, razors, lotions, body soap, toothpaste, etc.
4. Miscellaneous tips: Leave your hair-straightener and other styling tools at home because you are likely to fry it. Buy it in your host country and save yourself the expense of also needing to buy a new one when you return home. I wish I didn’t have to say this out of personal experience. Pack an extra camera, because you never know when your battery might die on your phone, or even worse, lose your phone. On the subject of losing phones, frequently back up your photos so that you won’t lose the memories you have captured. Lastly, dry shampoo is not a thing, in Germany at least. My friends and I have looked several times for some, but have had no luck. If you use it, bring enough supply.
I hope some of this advice helps you have the best possible time while you study abroad!