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Packing Pointers from Program Manager Brooke

28 August, 2019

When I was packing for my own study abroad experience a few years ago, I struggled to know what to pack. Obviously I knew I needed clothes and shoes and weather appropriate outerwear, but there were other things that I didn’t quite understand yet. To put it lightly, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. This made my transition to life in Prague a little bit crazy, but ultimately, through extensive trial and error, I found my list of things to bring and things to leave at home. Hopefully this will free up some space in your suitcase for a favorite pair of jeans or a jacket and prevent some emergencies later— or better yet, leave some space to bring back souvenirs from your semester abroad.

 

What to bring:

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Plug Adapters

Somehow, the world can’t agree on a standard plug style, so plugs in the European Union have a different shape and voltage than American outlets. I would recommend ordering a handful of plug adapters before you leave, as they can get really expensive if you try to buy them once you’re in-country. Amazon has some inexpensive options, but make sure you get the round plugs for the adapters, as some older sets can be square and don’t fit the outlets correctly.

Copies of All Documents

Come prepared with copies made of passports, credit cards, ids and other important documents. This prevents a complete emergency in the event of pickpocketing, theft or loss. Keep these copies separate from your originals. I took it one step further and left copies with my family members at home. Luckily I never got pickpocketed or had any issues with my documents, but it brought me tremendous peace of mind.

Comfortable Walking Shoes

If your boots aren’t made for walking, they don’t deserve to take up valuable space in your suitcase. Comfort is the name of the game when it comes to choosing footwear for your time in Prague. When I was a student, I was walking around 7 miles on the average day (most of it on cobblestones), so I definitely recommend bringing shoes that can hold up to that kind of wear. Walkable shoes also give you the freedom to have more adventures during the day, enabling you to make the most of your stay in Prague.

A Secure Bag

While Prague is one of the safest cities in the world, pickpocketing is a relatively common crime in the city center and on public transportation. Some of the best investments I made prior to my move were a cross-body bag that zipped completely shut and a backpack that was made of ripstop material. Both of these kept my belongings close to my body, safe from sneaky fingers.

Leave these at home:

Heat Tools for Hair

Yes, plug adapters are great, but for many hair tools, the voltage is still too high, causing the tools to overheat, potentially destroying the appliance, or even worse, frying your hair off at high temperatures. To keep your hair looking its best, I definitely recommend purchasing the hair tools you need once you arrive in Prague. At many of the drugstores, you can buy blow dryers, flat irons, and curling irons for a relatively low cost. While it’s not a guarantee you’ll burn your hair off with an American flat iron, I definitely wouldn’t take that risk.

High Heeled Shoes

See the note about shoes above. Nothing wrecks a semester abroad like a broken ankle. I’ve seen many a person get hurt, fall or even break their shoes while trying to navigate the cobblestones in the city. Your health and safety is more important than even the coolest pair of shoes you can imagine.

Shampoo and Other Toiletries

When you first walk into a drugstore in Prague, you’ll be shocked at how many of the brands you recognize. There’s a really solid chance that you’ll be able to find the same drugstore brand of shampoo or soap that you use at home. The quality is the same and the cost is slightly less than what you’d buy at home, so give it a whirl—or try something completely new. This also save significant weight in your suitcase—making it much easier to haul across the airport to greet us when you arrive in Prague. Moral of the story: unless it’s a prescription, buy it here.

School Supplies

While it might be tempting to take yourself back-to-school shopping before you go, hold off and buy your folders, notebooks and other supplies once you’re in Prague. Europe has a different standard paper size than the United States, so if you come with a folder for your papers, the papers you print in the UPCES Study Center will likely not fit. There are plenty of paper supply stores around the city center where you can stock up.

I really hope this helps when it comes to making last-minute packing decisions. As always, if you have any questions about what to pack, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our staff members and we’ll be happy to provide more information. Happy packing and we’ll see you when you arrive in Prague in just a few days!