There are a million different packing lists floating around the Internet for study abroad students. They list the ideal number of shirts, pants, comfortable walking shoes, etc. that everyone should have. I read over a bunch and felt pretty confident in my final suitcase contents before I arrived in Rome. That being said, there were a few items I never even thought of, and a few I should have left behind. My mom is the queen of thinking ahead so I was actually pretty set for most of these items on the first list, but a lot of my friends wish they had thought of including them as well. After months of living in Rome, here’s the list of quirky and random items that make the dolce vita even sweeter, and the list of ones that just take up space.
- Swiss Army Knife. No joke, this was SO convenient throughout the semester. My mom gave me one for Christmas (…she’s the queen, remember) and I tried to resist packing it. Thank you Mama, you saved me a whole lot of grief. That time we lost our bottle opener? Have no fear; my Swiss army knife was there! Scissors? Check. Tweezers? Check. When I needed a screwdriver to fix my loose sunglasses? Check. Really, we used it almost everyday. Plus, it’s so small; you won’t feel like you’re wasting any space.
- Detergent. I would highly suggest that you buy little individual packages for the washing machines in the residence. You can also wait and buy a bottle when you get here, but beware. “Candeggina” means bleach and is used in a lot of detergent over here. A large number of my favorite pieces of clothing found this out firsthand. HUGE BUMMER. The little packages are easy to pack and definitely worth it. I missed the way my detergent smelled, too. It’s always the little things!
- Toothpaste and Face Wash. Toothpaste and face wash are the only toiletries I was happy I brought with me from the States. I really like the way this one specific brand of toothpaste tastes and was majorly bummed when I couldn’t find it over here. If you like a specific product, bring it along. Shampoo and conditioner were easy to find, they have major brands like Herbal Essences and Garnier. If you’re picky about something, pack it! It’s fun to try new products, but it can be frustrating if you realize you don’t like anything over here. Major brands of body wash, tampons, deodorant, shampoo and conditioner, hair care, and lotions can all be found in the grocery store! Don’t waste the space in your luggage!
- Nail polish and Remover. I am a manicure junkie back home and was alarmed thinking about what I would do in Rome. I got one manicure while abroad and it was horrible. My nails actually looked like a very confused five year old painted them. I’m sure there are lovely salons out there that do a great job, but I wasn’t about to waste other ten-euro to find out. I am so happy my roommate and I packed nail polish and nail polish remover. Between the two of use we had five colors that kept us happy all semester. I would strongly encourage you to do the same; polish is expensive over here and I’ve never seen a great selection of colors!
- An extra phone charger / chord. Having an extra chord to bring on weekend trips or to keep in your book bag is just super convenient. The same goes for headphones.
- Medicine. I was so happy to have Advil, Pepto, Nyquil, and decongestant with me!
Leave it behind:
- Curling iron, flat iron, blow drier, etc. Just buy them here, please. They all blow up even if you bring a converter. It’s worth investing the money in an Italian one with your roommates once you arrive. You can find them in any of the little shops lining the streets near the residence as well!
- Any clothing you don’t love. I still question why I packed about ten different articles of clothing that are sitting in the bottom drawer of my dresser. I needed more t-shirts and tank tops, less sweaters and jeans.
- Shoes that you might be debating whether to bring or not. I packed a pair of heels that were way too summery for the cold weather of January through April. They took up a bunch of room and weren’t worth it. Shoes can be found at extremely affordable prices here!
The bottom line is if you forget something, it can always be shipped or replaced! Be smart with what you pack and try to think of things you’ll need in the long run. Remember to pack for the weather and don’t panic! Packing is the most stressful part but you only have to do it once!