spoiler alert: i didn’t fit 4 months of life into one suitcase, or, a packing list recap

Like I’ve mentioned in most of my packing list posts, I really, really, love packing lists.  Like, an inordinate amount.  So naturally, I made a packing list for studying abroad, which I posted here.  However, I thought it might be helpful for any prospective/upcoming DIS students out there reading if I went through my packing list and recapped it—what I’m glad I brought, what I could have lived without, and what I bought.

First, let’s talk suitcases.  I went to Copenhagen with a mostly-full large suitcase and a half-full carry-on size suitcase that I checked.  I left Copenhagen with two completely stuffed large suitcases and my carry-on duffel stuffed to the brim.  I don’t know why I was so against bringing two large suitcases to begin with, but I really was.  Looking back, it would have made my life (and my mom’s life) a whole lot easier if I’d just gone with two large suitcases to begin with, especially considering I didn’t use my carry-on suitcase for any trips, preferring to use my duffel instead (which I’ll talk about in a second).  When my mom came to visit, she brought everything in a large suitcase, which she then left with me and took the carry-on suitcase home. I really thought I was going to have enough room even with buying things, but I definitely underestimated how many things I was bringing home.  It wasn’t even that I bought that much stuff (although my mom might beg to differ?) but I just accumulated lots of things—museum tickets, brochures, school papers, etc.  But I also bought a lot of stuff.

OK—the duffel.  This duffel bag was a life. saver.  Seriously—I used this bag so much over the course of the semester!  It got me through trips as short as a weekend and as long as eight days.  It’s surprising how much it’ll hold and still fit on even the smallest of overhead bins on those totally-not-at-all-sketchy planes that you sometimes end up on.  Looking at you, propeller plane we took from Dusseldorf to Copenhagen on the way back from Rome.  No matter where you study abroad, make sure you have a carry-on size duffel (so much easier than a suitcase, I promise) for your travels—it’s a game changer.  I’m pretty sure the newest version of this duffel has backpack straps as well, which would have been helpful!

Packing List

Basic Supplies

  • Pleasure reading – I’m bringing two books along with a ton of audiobooks!
    • I listened to audiobooks on my bus rides to and from class and really enjoyed having them!  I also listened to the Wake Forest RUF podcasts once a week when they came out.
  • Travel pillow + travel sheet – The pillow is a blow-up one that I plan to use on the plane, and the sheet (technically a sleeping bag liner) is for any questionable hostel beds I come upon
    • I forgot my travel pillow but really wish I’d had it for plane rides.
  • Passport, credit cards, driver’s license, student ID, etc.
  • Printed itinerary, housing directions, pre-departure handbook, etc
  • Journal – I use a 5 lines a day journal that I’m on my fourth year of—writing in it is the only New Year’s Resolution I’ve ever kept!
  • Notebook & folder
    • I bought school supplies once I got there, but I used the folder I brought for keeping all the random and important papers (immigration letters, my American SIM card, etc.) safe over the semester.
  • Water bottle
  • Room decor – A few Minnesota-themed items (did you really think I wouldn’t??) and some pictures of friends and family
    • I’m so glad I brought this stuff; it made my corner of the room feel so homey and inviting! 

      Processed with VSCO with f1 preset
      My little corner | September 1, 2017
  • Small gift for my visiting family – I signed up for the DIS Visiting Host Program and wanted to bring just a small, local (i.e. Minnesota-themed) gift as a thank you to them!
  • Pain relievers + small first aid kit (just some BandAids, bacitracin, cough drops)


  • Cell phone + charger
  • Old cell phone + charger – I’m bringing an old phone of mine to use with my Danish SIM card (through the DIS arrangement with TDC) since it was the cheapest option
    • Having two phones ended up working out for me, if mildly inconvenient sometimes (always having to remember both phones, two chargers, etc.).    
  • Apple watch + charger
  • Laptop + charger
  • Camera + charger + accessories, like extra memory cards
  • External hard drive – I don’t want to go a whole semester without backing up my computer!
  • Headphones
  • Flashlight


  • Underwear
  • Bras/bralettes/sports bras
  • Socks – I’m bringing a mix of low socks to wear with my tennis shoes (see below), boot socks, and SmartWool socks
  • Pajamas
  • Professional outfit x1 – In case I do any site visits with my classes that require them
    • I didn’t end up needing this, but it didn’t take up much room in my suitcase and I would have been happy to have it if I needed it
  • Thick sweaters x3
    • I could have packed eight more of these and still not felt like I had too many.  I bought three sweaters (one from Topshop, two from Zara) over the course of the semester and by the end of the semester I pretty much wore exclusively those.
  • Nicer short sleeve shirts x5
  • Nicer long sleeve shirts x8
  • Casual shirts x6 – A mix of short- and long-sleeved (mainly Comfort Colors) shirts for casual wear and for my DIScovery trips
  • Dresses x3
    • I could have gotten by with at least one less; I didn’t wear them as much as I thought I would!
  • Pants x4 – Three pairs of jeans and a pair of (cuter than they sound) cargo pants
    • I was really glad I had the three pairs of jeans I did: a pair of light-wash, distressed jeans, a pair of dark jeans, and a pair of black jeans.  I wore them all equally, but…
    • …long live black jeans.  They go with everything, hide stains/when you accidentally wipe your sticky-from-eating-too-many-cinnamon-rolls hands, and make you blend right in with all the impeccably dressed (all in black) Danes.  
  • Sweatshirts x4 – A Patagonia pullover, a zip-up sweatshirt, and my ADPi Wooly along with a thin sweatshirt I’m wearing on the plane
  • Swimsuit – My Arctic Excursion DIScovery trip may involve a sauna, so I wanted to be prepared!
  • Exercise clothes – Some leggings and two pairs of Nike shorts
    • I could have joined a gym.  I should have joined a gym.  I did not join a gym.
  • Outerwear – My jean jacket, winter coat, hat, and gloves
    • I ended up buying a new, actual winter coat while in Copenhagen—the one that I brought just didn’t cut it.  You’d think the Minnesotan would have brought an actual winter coat but…no.  I purchased a Peak Performance black puffy coat that I wore the last month or so and will probably last me the rest of my life!


  • Rainboots – Sort of similar to these but in green; I’ve had them for years
    • My mom got me a pair of Bean Boots for Christmas and graciously gave them to me two months early—when she came for our second travel week.  They were my saving grace throughout our trip, my trip to the Arctic, and the last few weeks in Copenhagen when it was just a little too chilly for my black booties.
  • Black booties
    • If you’re studying abroad in Copenhagen, you can never have too much black in your wardrobe.  Trust me.  Shoes included.  Even considering how much I wore my Bean Boots near the end, these were probably the shoes I wore the most throughout the entire semester!
  • Adidas burgundy tennis shoes
  • Exercise shoes
  • Black flats
  • Birkenstocks


  • Earrings x3 – The studs I always wear, plus a pair of pearl studs and some silver hoops for dressier occasions
  • Necklaces x4 – A casual choker, a long gold Madewell necklace, and two beaded wrap necklaces from Altar’d State
  • Glasses


  • Toothbrush + toothpaste
  • Travel size shampoo + conditioner – I’m going to buy regular sizes once I get there, but I wanted some for the first few days plus some small bottles for travel
  • Brush, styling products like hair oil, and hair accessories (bobby pins, hair binders, etc)
  • Face wash + moisturizer
  • Contacts + solution
  • Makeup +  makeup remover
  • Razor
  • Perfume
  • Deodorant
  • Feminine hygiene

A very incomplete list of the things I bought while abroad: the three sweaters I mentioned earlier, a pair of slippers (from the supermarket, no less) that I wore all around our apartment, a pillow and blanket to make my bed just a little cozier (see the picture above) (also from the supermarket), some decor items (like the Danish flag banner above my bed in the picture, guess where that’s from?), Christmas and holiday gifts for friends and family (I would say these weren’t all from the supermarket, but that’s just not true), keychains for my collection, a coat (also mentioned above), a new purse (mine broke in Dublin), some necklaces/jewelry, and way too many souvenir items from the places I visited across Europe.

If you’re a prospective (or upcoming!) DIS student and have any questions about packing—or anything else!—shoot me a message using the contact tab above.  I’m working on a FAQ post with questions that I’ve received from other prospective students over the course of the semester, and I’d love to help you out!



8 thoughts on “spoiler alert: i didn’t fit 4 months of life into one suitcase, or, a packing list recap

  1. thank you for this post (and for all of your other posts about your adventures abroad)! i am currently packing for my semester with DIS Copenhagen and this was so helpful!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jenn, thank you for the speedy reply! We may have more questions in this next day of last minute packing. We are so lucky that you took the time to provide such useful information in your blog. You’re the best!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you SO much for providing such helpful info about your DIS experience. My son is in the Outdoor LLC and is leaving tomorrow. He’s in a double. Trying to decide on 1 or 2 suitcases. Is there room to store 2 big suitcases?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Liz, I’m so glad this was helpful!!! I can’t begin to tell you how jealous I am that your son is headed off on this incredible adventure tomorrow—and that he’ll be living in the Outdoor LLC! My time abroad was four of the best months of my life and so much of that was because of the people I lived with in the LLC. Most people do bring two suitcases, and I found they were pretty easy to store above the armoire that everyone is provided! If you have any more questions or want more details, shoot me an email with my contact form (the “let’s be friends” link in the menu bar!) and I’ll be happy to talk to you more!!!


    • Maya: I’m so, so happy to hear that!!!!! Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any more questions as you prepare to leave for the semester!! I’m so jealous—if you have extra room, mind packing me in your suitcase? 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s