Study Abroad in France
What to Pack
There is no such thing as taking too little! Only too much. It is hard for us to convince students that this is true, but try asking anyone who has studied abroad before. Leave as much as you can at home. It will be there when you get back.
We'll say this in a more serious way. Neither Arcadia University nor your airline can guarantee the immediate transport of more than one piece of stowed luggage and a carry-on piece. Students should be prepared to move their luggage through airports, on and off buses during orientation, and up several flights of stairs to their rooms.
Student rooms are normally equipped with only a foot and a half of hanging space and two, three-foot bureau drawers or the equivalent shelf space, and emptied luggage is usually stored under beds. Keep this in mind when you're packing.
In summer, the temperature varies between 60°F (15°C) and 85°F (30°C); in winter the temperature varies between 32°F (0°C) and 50°F(10°C). In spring and autumn – the temperature varies between 40°F (4°C) and 70°F (21°C).
Practical and sturdy clothes are what you need for your stay in France. Students dress casually: jeans, t-shirts (not the torn variety), comfortable shoes. Keep in mind that you will be doing a lot of walking in Paris - you'll want to keep your feet happy. Adjust your wardrobe for the season, bearing in mind the weather information above.
You may also want to bring:
- A raincoat with a warm lining (detachable is best) or waterproof Patagonia or Gore-tex jacket.
- Bring a lighter weight jacket, windbreaker, raincoat or jean jacket.
- Jeans. Bring several pairs.
- Khakis or lightweight trousers.
- A couple of pairs of comfortable walking shoes. Sturdy, lace-up shoes are a good choice for fieldtrips. A couple of pairs of casual shoes for skirts and trousers.
- One or Two Dressy Outfits for formal occasions.
- Cotton t-shirts, long and short sleeve. Good for layering.
- Bathing suit.
- Underwear and socks. Bring two weeks' worth at least.
- Accessories, such as belts and costume jewelry. Leave good stuff at home!
- Sun screen.
Hairdryers and Electrical Appliances
If you can help it, don't bring electrical appliances from home. The electrical current in France is 220 volts at 50 Hz (cycles per second). In the US, it is 110 volts at 60Hz. You will not only need an adapter to plug in your appliance, you will also need either a transformer and adapter plug, or a dual voltage appliance which can be switched from 110 to 220 volts. (The difference in the number of cycles means that appliances with motors may not work as well in France as they do in the US.)
Most returning students agreed that converters were a hassle and said it was best to buy a hairdryer overseas.
The overwhelming advice is to switch to chemical disinfectants and extended wear lenses, and bring solution from home. Some students report running out several weeks before the end of the program, so you should bring more than you think you'll need. Bring a spare pair of lenses. Also, take along a pair of glasses for emergencies. And don't forget sunglasses!
Disinfecting units are a problem for contact lenses. Because of the difference in voltage, the timer may not shut off automatically. Besides, electrical outlets are hard to find when you're on the road traveling. However, if you can't stand chemicals, try the dual voltage (120/240) unit from Cooper Vision.
Large instruments, such as guitars, may count as one piece of luggage on the flight. Your instrument should be properly insured and safeguarded.
("Do it or suffer" was one comment we heard.) You can buy speakers abroad if you get tired of earphones
A backpack and book bag
You'll need a bag for carrying books to class, as well as one for weekend and vacation trips.
Don't invest in a brand new set of luggage for the trip. A sturdy suitcase or duffel bag will do.
Duffel bags are practical and easy to store as long as they're a reasonable size. If your duffel bag is bigger than you are, it's too big. Whatever luggage you do choose, be sure to put your name and overseas address on a luggage tag on the outside and on a piece of paper in an inside pocket.
Camera and film
A camera will help you to capture your overseas experience. One word of caution, though, cameras disappear. If you have an expensive camera, have it insured. Also, remember to write down what you take pictures of, or you'll be faced with 20 sets of prints of unidentified monuments, cities and sunsets.
You can get just about everything you will need in France. Some students do complain about not having the same selection of deodorants/anti-perspirants in France.
If you take a prescription medication, make sure you have enough to last your entire stay abroad. Don't assume that you can get the same medication abroad. A prescription from home will NOT be filled in France. You'll need a new one from a French doctor.
Pack the small, battery-operated, travel kind. The wind-up kind tick incessantly.
Photos from home
Bring along your favorite photos of your family and friends. You can also decorate your room with them.
Academic papers, fax and phone numbers, e-mail addresses
Your study abroad advisor's/home school's fax and phone numbers, as well as the e-mail address, will prove to be helpful, especially if you have to contact your advisor for course approval. Make sure to bring any instructions for registering for the following semester at your home college/university.
Security and Insurance
A little common sense goes a long way Do not bring any valuables which promote theft and cannot be easily replaced. Put identification labels inside each of your bags (not just on the outside). If you bring them, leave a list of your travelers check numbers with your family. We also recommend that you leave a photocopy of the data page of your passport (passport number, the date and place of issue) at home and keep a copy with your belongings in case it is lost or stolen. To insure your baggage and personal effects inexpensively, investigate adding a rider to your family's homeowners' policy.
Arcadia University does not insure your possessions against loss or theft, but you can and should. Some other valuable tips to protect yourself include:
- Leave irreplaceable items of high monetary or sentimental value at home.
- Do not carry a lot of cash.
- Use safes in hotels and hostels.
- Wear a neckpouch with your money and passport in it inside your coat or clothing.
- Pickpockets and petty thieves sometimes target tourists and other unsuspecting newcomers. Be very careful to protect your belongings, especially during the your first few days in the country.
- Rent a safety deposit box, either through the Residence or a bank. Speak with a member of our overseas staff once abroad for more information.
Shipping and Storing Personal Effects Overseas
If you pack carefully, you'll manage on the airline baggage allowance (one checked piece and one carry-on). Please remember, we cannot store anything for you. Customs declarations must be made on all packages sent overseas.
To avoid duty charges on your belongings, be sure that everything has been used and mark the declaration Used: (item names), Property of Addressee.