Study Abroad in Mexico
What to Pack
There is no such thing as taking too little, although it's hard for us to convince students that this is true. Just ask someone who has studied abroad before, and you'll probably be advised to leave as much as you can at home.
"Pack everything you might need, then take half of it out," was one student's advice. It will be there when you get back. Let practicality be your guide for packing. Keep in mind that overseas it's perfectly acceptable to wear the same outfit a few times in one week.
If you plan carefully so that all articles of clothing mix and match, you can create plenty of different outfits from a minimum number of items. Also remember that the weather can vary throughout the day. Choose clothes that are good for layering.
The leave-half-behind rule
You are going to have to carry whatever you pack by yourself, so leave behind half of what you think you need. In most cases, you will be limited to one or two pieces of checked luggage and one carry-on bag on the flight (check with your airline for size and weight restrictions), and even that is more than you can comfortably carry. Large, hard-sided suitcases are tough to carry and even more difficult to store.
- USE DUFFEL BAGS with wheels or a good, internal frame BACKPACK. Closet space will not be as generous as what you are used to, so even if you can get it there, you won't necessarily know where to put it. No one has ever complained about taking too little luggage.
- We'll say this in a more serious way. Neither Arcadia University nor our group flight carrier can guarantee the immediate transport of more than two pieces of stowed luggage and a carry-on piece.
- Students should be prepared to move their luggage through airports, on and off busses 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.
Weather in the region during May and June tends to be warm during the day (in the 70s Fahrenheit) with temperatures dropping into the 50s at night. Rain is common especially in June so be sure to bring a good rain jacket, and a sweater or fleece for cooler temperatures.
Practical and sturdy clothes are what you need for your stay in Mexico. Students dress casually: jeans, t-shirts (not the torn variety), comfortable shoes. Keep in mind that you will be doing a lot of walking - you'll want to keep your feet happy. Here's a basic list of things to take:
Returning students also say:
- A light weight raincoat.
- Jeans, Khakis and/or lightweight trousers -- bring at least two pairs.
- One or two pairs of comfortable walking shoes. Sturdy, lace-up shoes are a good choice in La Preciosita and weekend trips. A couple of pairs of casual shoes for skirts and trousers.
- One or two dressier outfits.
- A couple of cotton sweaters.
- A warm wool sweater and/or fleece.
- Cotton t-shirts, long and short sleeve for layering.
- Bathing suit.
- Underwear and socks.
- Sweatpants and sweatshirt or other casual outfit.
- If you bring accessories, such as belts and jewelry, make sure to leave the good stuff at home!
- A hat & sunglasses. The sun gets hot!!
- Wear comfy clothes on the plane!
- Take whatever you feel most comfortable wearing.
- Wear layers to keep warm.
Especially in La Preciosita, revealing clothing such as tank tops, shorts and short skirts are generally frowned upon and may attract unwanted attention. They are also inappropriate for certain activities such as hiking or working outside. Layering clothing is good for traveling and a variable climate, but opt for t-shirts instead of tank tops. Similarly, longer skirts and capri pants are better options than short skirts and shorts.
Choose things which are easy to keep clean and can be washed by hand or in a washing machine and hung dry. You will be able to do laundry in Puebla at laundromats near the university, or through the UPAEP dorm laundry service (a more expensive option). While in La Preciosita you will need to wash your clothes by hand.
While you can purchase most toiletries in Puebla, try to bring enough supplies for the duration of the program. In addition to the basics, here are a few specific items to bring:
A small first aid kit with band-aids, hand sanitizer, and medicine for headaches and upset stomach
Sun screen & bug spray
If you wear contact lenses: lens solution + case, spare lenses, spare glasses
Luggage & Other Items
Don't invest in a brand new set of luggage for the trip. 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.
A Backpack and Book Bag
You'll need a small bag for books and you may want a larger backpack for the weekend excursions. Make sure to measure the backpack and check with your airline to see if it will count as a carry-on or if it will need to be checked on your flights.
Hairdryers and other electrical appliances
If you can help it, don't bring electrical appliances from home. The electrical current in Mexico is 110 volts at 60 Hz (cycles per second), which is the same as the US, but you may find that outlets have only two prongs. If you do bring an electrical appliance with three prongs, bring a plug adapter with you.
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.
Pack the small, battery-operated, travel kind.
Ipod or Mp3 Player and Other Electronic Devices
You may want to bring an iPod or other similar device to listen to music while you are abroad. If you choose to do so, refer to the information in the "Hairdryers and other electrical appliances" section above, and make sure that your device is insured.
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. Also, a prescription from home will NOT be filled in Mexico, so you'd need a new one from a Mexican doctor. Always keep medication in its original container.
Photos from Home
Bring along your favorite photos of your family and friends. You can decorate your room with them and show them to your host family in La Preciosita.
Academic Papers & Advisor Contact Information
Pack any papers you were given with instructions about credit transfer. Also remember to pack the course descriptions you received for your program and anything else you received from us. You'll need to refer to these materials overseas. Your study abroad advisor's/home school's fax and phone numbers, as well as the e-mail address, will prove to be helpful too.
You should notify your study abroad advisor that you are planning to take part in an Arcadia University program and be sure to take care of any necessary paperwork before you leave campus. If registration for next year's courses on your home campus will take place while you are abroad, ensure that the appropriate arrangements are made with your registrar or study abroad advisor so that you will receive your registration materials in a timely fashion.
Security and Insurance
The Arcadia University College of Global Studies supports the guidelines described in "Responsible Study Abroad: Health and Safety Guidelines" for program sponsors, participants and parents by the Interassociational Advisory Committee on Health and Safety (complete text of these guidelines) .
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). 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.
- When you are traveling 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.
Shipping and Storing Personal Effects Overseas
If you pack carefully, you'll manage on the airline baggage allowance. 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.
Whatever you do, do not send a trunk. Even if you can find a freight forwarder to ship it and clear it through customs, it will be difficult to handle once you get it, a problem to store and even more troublesome and expensive to send back home.