Ready to Go to Italy
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.
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 buses during orientation, and up several flights of stairs to their rooms. Student rooms are normally equipped with limited storage space (a small closet and/or dresser) and emptied luggage is usually stored under beds. Keep this in mind when you are packing.
The leave-half-behind rule.
We'll say it again. You are going to have to carry whatever you pack by yourself, so leave behind half of what you think you need. You will be limited to two pieces of checked luggage and one carry-on bag on the flight, 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. If you don't believe this, talk to a student who has done it before. Every year we see unhappy students struggle to get a mountain of their own luggage on and off buses and up and down stairs. Don't be one of them.
As we stated earlier, the climate varies across Italy. Winter weather in Central Italy is typically in the 30s/40s and snowfall is not usually heavy. Without the powerful heating that you may be used to, it will seem colder, so remember to wear layers.
In the summer it is very hot with temperatures and seasons that correspond to the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. Remember, though, that air conditioning is not common in homes, businesses and transport so it will seem even hotter!
Practical and sturdy clothes are what you will need for your stay in Italy. Neutral, solid colors will allow you to mix and match outfits, saving you space in your luggage and closet. Students dress casually: jeans (not the torn variety), shirts, and comfortable shoes. Indeed, comfortable shoes are very important, as you will be doing a lot of walking, especially in hilly Perugia. You may also want to bring:
- A warm coat for winter months.
- 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.
- Two or three 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.
- A couple of cotton or wool sweaters.
- Cotton t-shirts, long and short sleeve. Good for layering.
- A couple of bathing suits.
- Underwear and socks. Bring two weeks worth at least.
- One sweatshirt, one pair sweatpants.
- Accessories, such as belts and costume jewelry. Leave good stuff at home!
- Sun screen.
Hairdryers and other electrical appliances
If you can help it, don't bring electrical appliances from home. The electrical current in Italy is 220 volts at 50 Hz (cycles per second). In the U.S., 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 Italy as they do in the U.S.) 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.
Large instruments, such as guitars, may count as one piece of luggage on the flight. Your instrument should be properly insured and safeguarded.
Backpack and book bag
You'll need a small bag for books and a larger backpack with frame for weekend and vacation trips. Backpacks with internal frames seem to be more popular. Remember, larger backpacks will count as one piece of luggage on the flight (you're allowed two pieces); they're too large to carry on.
Don't invest in a brand new set of luggage for the trip. A sturdy suitcase or duffel bag and one backpack will do. Duffel bags are practical and easy to store as long as they're a reasonable size. Whatever luggage you do choose, be sure to put your name and overseas School on a luggage tag on the outside and on a piece of paper in an inside pocket.
Mp3 player or iPod
You can buy speakers over there if you get tired of earphones. An mp3 player is great for the bus, train or on longer trips.
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. Many students bring film from home and wait until they get back to have it developed. You may want to invest in a special lead bag that protects your film from airport x-ray machines. Also, remember to write down what you take pictures of, or risk being faced with 20 sets of prints of unidentified monuments, cities, and sunsets.
Extra European-Size Passport Photos
You may save some time and a little money if you bring about half a dozen extra passport size photos with you for police registration, membership cards etc. To be useful, however, they must be standard European size 3.5 x 4.5 cm, not U.S. 2x2 inch. They must be full face, front view, eyes open, from top of head to shoulders, against a plain white background, no shadows, no hats, no sunglasses, show a normal serious expression and normal contrast. Photos may also be done on-site in photo booths at train stations for about $10 for a set of four to eight.
You can get just about everything you will need in Italy. Some students do comment, though, about not having the same selection of deodorants/anti-perspirants in Italy.
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 Italy. You'll need a new one from an Italian doctor.
Pack the small, battery-operated, travel kind.
You can rent or buy a used bike there. Just make sure to buy a strong chain and lock as well!
Academic papers, fax and phone numbers, e-mail addresses
Remember to pack the course descriptions you received for your program and anything else you received from us. Also bring a copy of your entire Visa Application. 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, especially if you have to contact your advisor for course approval.
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 brought travelers checks leave a list of your 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.
Shipping and Storing Personal Effects Overseas
If you pack carefully, you'll manage on the airline baggage allowance (2 checked pieces and 1 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); No Commercial value.