1. Adaptor plugs — it might seem obvious, but lots of people tend to forget these, or think they can buy them once out there. Wrong. So many countries don’t do the whole 3-pin plug converters, so make sure you pack a few spares. You can also get a hold of a universal plug, if you’re off to different countries during your stay.
2. A decent laptop — nowadays, you can get hold of a laptop quite cheaply and it really is a great piece of equipment on your year abroad. The majority of students put this item at the top of their list and with good reason, too: some unis have a shortage of computers or you might find yourself doing the internet cafe rounds, struggling to hand in your project on time. It makes sense to get one, storing all your photos, music and work in case you get a little homesick! You can also use it at your leisure to stay in touch with friends and family, thanks to Skype.
3. An MP3 player — with so many cheap MP3 players on the market, you’d be crazy not to bring one with you, as you might want to drown out that irritating child on the metro or be faced with some very long trips on an overnight coach. Even if you’re not that tech-y, it really does make a difference to listen to your favourite mix of songs, scroll through your photos and, with some products, watch a decent movie. Put it on the shopping list!
4. A light coat — you would have thought that with globalisation, it wouldn’t be too difficult to find something suitable to wear in most countries. But you might be in for a nasty surprise—some countries consider mullets to be de rigueur , so you can just imagine the clothes that must be on offer. Plus, wherever you are, global warming means that you might come across anything from temperamental showers to gale force winds. Be wise. Pack one in your suitcase.
5. Staple clothes — yes, difficult to define the word ‘staple’ as this may vary amongst you, but students have told us that a classic white shirt, black trousers (and/or skirt), one pair of smart-ish shoes might come in handy (what if you land the job of your dreams and all you have to wear are those South American trousers that look like pyjamas? You can’t bank on your audience having a sense of humour...).
6. A scrapbook — you may sigh, you may not believe yourself to be arts and crafty but cynics beware: you’ll need somewhere to store all those tickets and flyers somewhere anyway. A scrapbook is a must for anyone on their year abroad, as you get to amass all sorts of crap and have a good memory book by the end of it! You can make it as personal, funny, bodacious or just plain, erm, plain as you wish!
7. A pen — silly little thing, a pen, when you think about it. Just a bit of ink in a plastic tube, but when you’re filling in documents on your way there, or travelling, or whatever, you’re gonna wish you’d packed one. And most people forget. Don’t be one of them!
8. A collection of your favourite DVDs — although you can buy these once you’re out there, you may not find that very special, tattered copy of Alice in Wonderland, Platoon or Pulp Fiction that you’ve held on to since time forgot. Besides which, they might have them dubbed without the options of putting on subtitles. Not cool.
9. A (mini) dictionary — yes, you may not need one but do you know how to say bath plug in the lingo? What about heartburn? Or even slight fringe with some highlights, no shorter than so many inches? You might even want a rude dictionary (and they work, trust us). Pack one in, just in case.
10. Student card/Young Person’s Railcard — these are amazing for discounts, cheaper travelling deals and as a means of identification. You can even get discounts on the Eurostar with the YPR, oh yes!
11. A good camera — bit of an obvious choice and if you don’t have one yet, invest as this little item will be your chance to document all those cool places you’ll have come across on your year abroad.
12. Comfort food— you laugh, but you have no idea how much you’ll miss your PG tips/ Marmite/ Branston’s pickle /Cadbury’s/Percy the Pig sweets once you’re out there!