Things NOT to Pack For a Semester Abroad!

Less than 50 hours from now I’ll be sitting in the airport ready to board my plane to the land down under. I’ve done the trip before and survived, so the flight isn’t really a bother. The packing, on the other hand, is killing me. You know the people that pack everything that could be useful? I’m the opposite. I pack everything, but mostly things I think would be fun. Sophomore year I legitimately forgot to pack a single item for school, such as a notebook, backpack, etc. But don’t you worry, I definitely remembered to bring my Crayola crayons and some Pokémon and superhero coloring books. So, as you can guess, packing for abroad is a little more difficult because I’m going to be half the world away, and I’d kind of like to survive. Nerf guns are cool, but they won’t keep you warm like clothes or feed you like snacks. SO, in celebration of my horrid packing habits, I’ve thrown together a list of things NOT to pack for a semester abroad. These are all things I’ve brought to Marist at some point or another. Let that sink in as you read my list.

My collection of Nerf Guns

Nerf Guns:

It’s Nerf or Nothing with my house. The 8 of us have at least one gun each, and there are hundreds of Nerf darts laying around. As you can see, I’m prepared for anything. 36 round rapid fire? Check. Classic Six-Shooter? Check. Knock-off Nerf Gun? Duh. Final stand one-shot? Always on me. Disc shooter? Gotta have an ace up my sleeve. As much as I’d love to start a Nerf war with my neighbors while in Australia, these babies pack weigh, weight that I could use for something a little more useful. Besides, just imagine bringing these through the TSA checkpoint…

Marist Shirts

Every Single Marist Shirt You Own:

This is a soft spot for me. I pride myself in the collection of Marist-related shirts I have. I’ve still got that fluorescent orange one from First Year Programs that was an XL because it was all they had left. I have shirts I got for free at basketball games. I still have the first Marist shirt I ever got, a plain red tee with with white lettering that Admissions gave me on my first of many visits. I have Marist sweatshirts and boxers (not pictured). I love Marist and my wardrobe shows it. I counted, and if need be, I could go a little over a month and wear a different shirt every day. The thing is, as much as I want to pack these, I’m limiting myself to two so that I can still show off school pride, but also because of other reasons. One is that I plan on leaving most of my clothing in Australia to make room for things I buy. This means limiting the amount of clothing I want to keep, and instead bringing shirts, socks, etc. that I won’t miss. Another reason is that yes, I love Marist, but this is a new experience. My Marist shirts can do without me for a semester. This is time for me to fall in love with Macquarie University and Australia. I’ve already prepared by packing Australian and New Zealand rugby tees. The bandwagon train is coming and I’m hopping on!

Nerd items

Your Nerdy Items:

Nerd, Geek, Dork, whatever your preference, I am one. I’m not ashamed either. It’s to the point where friends of mine know that all it takes to make a gift awesome is something that’s associated with geek life. So what if I like to feel like Superman while drinking chocolate milk in the morning? Who cares if Obi-Wan Kenobi is just chilling on my windowsill ready to strike with some sort of harpoon gun. Yeah that’s Pikachu just creeping in the corner. Don’t make any sudden movements or you’ll scare him away. Mach 5 from Speed Racer with removable saw blades? Psh Hot Wheels ain’t got nothing on that beast. Anyway, these items are part of who I am, part of that nerd culture that pretty much is unavoidable nowadays. They just aren’t worth the space in your luggage though. Hell yeah I’m bringing my Superman Converse and Mach 5 t-shirt. I just won’t be re-enacting Iron Man Vs. War Machine battles on my desk for the next 5 months. I’ll be sure to pick up a bunch of new trinkets throughout the semester anyway, so leaving these behind will give me more room for things I bring back!

Boyfriend, Boyfriend, let me be your boyfriend.

Your Boyfriend/Lounge Pillow:

Girls, this is one long-distance boyfriend that’ll without a doubt be there when you get back. Guys, that guilty pleasure cuddle pillow is just too big to pack. Most schools provide you with at least a pillow or two and some sheets anyway, so stuff like this can be left behind. Yeah they’re perfectly made to prop you up while you’re surfing the web or reading a book in bed but it’s time for a break. Yes they just sit there with their arms wide open, but going abroad means it’s time to see other people, use other pillows. Gotta expand and reach out. Who knows, maybe when you’re abroad you’ll find a real boyfriend/girlfriend/fling/somebody to cuddle with/human pillow. Sure, these don’t snore, talk back, smell, etc. but actual human interaction is worth leaving this warm embrace back home.

Ladies, I know how you feel.

Every single pair of Converse (shoes) you own:

Converse are my kicks. Ain’t no going wrong with them. Sure, I may have foot problems to look forward to when I’m older, but at least I looked fly, right? I don’t think I’ve owned another pair of shoe for the past 6 years. I even think my first pair of Converse may still be hanging up on the telephone wires in front of my friend’s house. Gotta get a pair to match every outfit. Got my purple Barney pair with green laces, got me some Product (Red) ones, some Marist-themed ones with white and red laces, Superman ones, the pair I wore to Senior Prom, and of course hand-painted superhero ones my friend made. People literally have to pry me away from the Converse section of shoe stores. A pair or two are definitely coming with me, but I’ll be trading in most of my laces for flip flops and lounge shoes. Gotta bring flip flops or sandals for the beaches and showers, and a good pair of lounge shoes will be perfect for any formal, semi-formal, or going out attire. This rule stands for any shoe though. Adidas Nike, whatever. Shoes = a lot of space. Pack what you must to be comfortable and keep it at that.

I love Apples to Apples as much as the next guy, but there’s a lot more to experience than the new way to win with the Helen Keller card. Sure, games bring people together and are fun, but try experiencing whatever the culture you’re in has to offer. Try going to on-campus events. Most are free and are a great way to have fun on any given night. Make plans to go to a sports game or go to the movies instead of sit around yelling random latin words hoping it’s a spell in Harry Potter Scene it. Join an on campus club or check things off your abroad bucket list. This isn’t necessarily a post against games, but more about encouraging you to get out and experience campus and city life instead of remaining in your room buying up property in Monopoly. You can play these games anywhere and any time. When else will you be able to go to a rugby game or join the crowd in a Mardi Gras parade? Exactly.

So there’s a list of just a couple things you should probably leave at home. It’s hard for me to accept it, but when it comes to packing, it’s more about necessities than wants. I WANT to bring my panini press so I can make late night grilled cheese, but since I have a meal plan, I don’t NEED anything to cook with. For real, though, when packing, you start to realize what things benefit you, and what things are merely distractions. I have absolutely no doubt that I’ll be too busy to even miss my video games and such, and that’s ok, because I’ll be doing once in a lifetime things like going to the Sydney Opera House or running for my life away from Dingoes. When packing, you want to bring things that will enhance your experience, not keep you from it. As a little bonus, I included a specially-made video, just for you readers, that I made highlighting some other random things that should probably be left at home.

-Alex Berube ’14


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