Ready to Go to Ireland
What to Pack
The leave-half-behind rule
You are going to have to carry ALL of 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, a good, internal frame BACKPACK, or suitcases on wheels. 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.
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.
Ireland tends to be cool and damp compared to the United States. Fall and spring are usually fairly mild, but from December to March temperatures can drop below freezing. Although it won't get as cold as it does up north in the States, the damp penetrates and buildings may not be heated to your normal comfort level, especially at night.
Be prepared to dress in layers! Summers are usually cool too, but hotter temperatures are occasionally enjoyed. Most buildings aren't air conditioned the way they are here, so there's no escaping it when a heat wave does set in.
Let practicality be your guide. Americans frequently stand out overseas in their bright clothes, sneakers and backpacks, but jeans are a student uniform in Europe just as they are here. Keep in mind that in Europe it's perfectly acceptable to wear the same outfit several times in one week. If you plan carefully so all articles of clothing mix and match, you can create plenty of different outfits from a minimum number of items.
Here's what returning students say you should bring:
- A raincoat with a warm lining. Ski jackets are okay for colder weather but aren't as good in rainy, damp conditions.
- Bring a lighter weight jacket or windbreaker for warmer weather. Just make sure a sweater fits underneath.
- Jeans. Bring several pairs. Everybody wears them. Corduroy and khaki pants are also recommended. Beware! "Pants" means underwear in Ireland, so be sure to call them your "trousers" when talking to an Irish person.
- You will do more walking in Ireland than you do at home, so bring one or two pairs of comfortable walking shoes. Sneakers are the hands-down favorite. Also bring one pair of dress shoes (women will find flats more versatile than heels). Bring hiking boots if you plan to hike.
- Long underwear. Can be used as pajamas.
- Pajamas. Flannel for cold weather or combine lighter pajamas with long underwear. A couple of students suggested bathrobes, but this sounds too bulky to us.
- Parliamentary Interns (male and female) should bring suits for days they spend at their placements.
- Cotton t-shirts. Long sleeve and short sleeve.
- Shorts (one or two pairs) for warm weather.
- Hat, scarf and gloves.
- Bathing suit.
- Underwear and socks. You'll probably want at least two weeks' worth, because doing laundry is expensive. Don't forget wool socks. Women may want to take tights.
- Sweats or something comfortable to relax in. One pair at most.
- Umbrella. You can buy this in Ireland.
- Accessories, such as belts and costume jewelry. Leave your expensive jewelry at home.
Returning students also say:
- Wear comfy clothes on the plane!
- Take whatever you feel most comfortable wearing.
- Wear layers to keep warm.
Our advice is to choose things which are easy to keep clean and can be washed and dried at the laundromat. It is very difficult to dry hand-washed items properly in your room, and dry cleaning tends to be much more expensive than in the US.
Don't pack them! Save the precious room for something else. Arcadia University housing has supplies of hangers for your use. University residence halls, however, probably won't have hangers, but you can easily buy them after you move in.
Sheets and towels
Bring two flat twin sheets or an extra long fitted sheet (the beds are slightly longer). We think one towel is enough but you may prefer two. Don't forget a washcloth. A pillow and comforter (duvet) will be supplied. If you don't have room to pack towels and sheets, you can easily purchase these items inexpensively after you arrive. This saves precious luggage space.
Hairdryers and other electrical appliances
If you can help it, don't bring electrical appliances from home. The electrical current in Ireland is 240 volts at 50Hz (cycles per second). (Most of Europe is on 220/240 volts at 50Hz.) 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 240 volts. (The difference in the number of cycles means that appliances with motors may not work as well in Ireland as they do in the US.)
Most modern electronic devices have built-in voltage converters (iPod, MP3 player, laptop, and digital camera), however be certain to check the specifications for any personal device. Most returning students agreed that converters were a hassle and said it was best to buy a hairdryer overseas. If you want to bring one for from home, try ones with dual voltage (brandnames include Krupps, Braun or Conair). You can find curling irons with butane cartridges in the US and in Ireland.
Dual voltage electric shavers can also be purchased here in the US (Philips, Braun and Remington are just a few name brands). Otherwise, plan to either buy an electric shaver in Ireland, or use a blade razor. If you do buy an electrical appliance in Ireland, the first thing you'll discover is that many don't come with a plug. You must buy this separately and attach yourself or the store personnel can attach it for you.
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. Most students said they couldn't find their own brand of solution abroad and that it is very expensive in Ireland. Allergan and Bausch & Lomb are available, but may be hard to find. Your favorite brand may be available but packaged differently (different color and bottle size), so you have to look around carefully.Bring a spare pair of lenses. Also, take along a pair of glasses for emergencies (or if you plan to take overnight trains).
Disinfecting units are a problem
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.
If you play an instrument, you might want to think about taking it along. However, large instruments, such as guitars, may count as one piece of luggage on the flight. Your instrument should be properly insured and safeguarded.
Most students say leave it at home. But if you are an intrepid cyclist, you probably won't be happy without it. You'll need to check with the airline for specifications about packing your bike. Be prepared for the possibility of an excess luggage charge as well.
A backpack and book bag
You'll need a small bag for books and possibly 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).
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. If your duffel bag is bigger than you are, it's too big. The one drawback to duffel bags is that they're not practical for weekend trips. Whatever luggage you do choose, be sure to put your name and our Dublin office address on a luggage tag on the outside and on a piece of paper in an inside pocket. The Dublin office address is 6 Clare Street, Dublin 2, Ireland. The telephone number is 353 1 676 8875.
Put a distinctive ribbon or scarf on the handle of your bags so you can distinguish your Samsonite from the other 200 or so on the baggage carousel.
You may find it convenient to have some of your favorite recipes handy. Photocopy some recipes instead of packing the entire cookbook. You'll save luggage room and weight.
("Do it or suffer" was one comment we heard.) You can buy speakers over there if you get tired of earphones.
A camera will help you to capture your overseas experience. Small digital cameras are great and provide an easy way of taking pictures of your experiences abroad and sharing them with friends and family both in-country and back home. Remember to bring extra batteries, memory cards, and the cable that allows you to download the pictures to your computer. One word of caution, though, cameras disappear. If you have an expensive camera, have it insured.
Bring a supply of basics to get you through the first month. By then, you'll have found the best local shops for whatever you need.
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 Ireland. You'll need a new one from an Irish doctor.
Pack the small, battery-operated, travel kind. It's an absolute must if you want to catch an early train.
Photos from home
Bring along your favorite photos of your family and friends. You can decorate your room with them. You can also show them to your homestay family and your Irish friends.
Academic papers, fax and phone numbers, e-mail addresses
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, especially if you have to contact your advisor for course approval.
Packing Tip #1
You will be moving a lot during the first week of your program – from orientation to homestay to your permanent housing. Pack toiletries, a towel and clothes you'll need for that first week in one bag so you don't have to pack and repack all your luggage.
Packing Tip #2
Your carry-on bag should contain all the necessities to live for one or two days in the event the airline loses your luggage.
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 Interorganizational Task Force on Safety and Responsibility in Study Abroad. To view the complete text of these guidelines, visit our website .
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.
- 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 will be able to fit all that you need within the airline baggage allowance (two checked pieces and one carry-on). We strongly recommend against your planning to have things sent to you after you settle in overseas. Customs declarations must be made on all packages sent overseas. Import taxes, even on used items, can equal or exceed the original purchase price of the items. Labeling all boxes with the statement "Used Personal Belongings" may avoid the tax charge.
However, these taxes are regularly imposed on shipments from North America by all European Union countries. Customs delays and processing can cause inconvenience. If you must have extra things sent to you, please pay special attention to the following notes. Shipping overseas can be very expensive, so you may want to comparison shop to find the best rates. You'll have to wait until after you have moved into your permanent program housing, because you'll need to give your family the specific residential address.
The Arcadia University Dublin office has NO facilities to handle packages or to store luggage in advance of the program starting date. If you are planning to fly over early to travel, you can arrange to store your heavy luggage in Dublin at the airport. Most major European train stations also have storage facilities.
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.
We encourage you to take only the essentials with you to Ireland. However, should you accumulate a few too many fisherman's sweaters to haul home, there is a company called SDS (a division of An Post) which will ship your goods home at a reasonable cost. The shipping is measured in 5 kg increments (about 10.5 lbs.) and is available at both surface and air rates.
Air takes about twelve days (and costs a lot more). Surface shipping takes about 10 weeks (so don't pack any teacakes with sultanas in the parcel). You can take advantage of this service at your local Irish post office.
Here are some examples of approximate rates:
Surface 5 kg €18.90
Air 5 kg €39.00
Surface 10 kg €29.90
Air 10 kg €59.00
Approximate book rates are less.
3 kg books €6.00
4 kg books €8.00
5 kg books €10.00
They weigh, you pay, and it's next stop USA!