When the students arrive at their destination, they will probably have to travel from the airport to a train, taxi, or bus station, walk several blocks, and go up a few flights of stairs to the apartment or residence hall. (Elevators may not be available!) They must be able to do all these while hauling their luggage. We do not recommend bringing anything you and your student do not want to lose, i.e., valuable jewelry or family heirlooms.
There are now stricter government regulations about airport luggage. Please check with the airline about weight limits and the US State Department’s website about items that can be brought on board.
Here’s a test to see if the student has over-packed: have him or her walk around the block a few times with the entire luggage. If the activity becomes very trying after only a few minutes, take out a few items.
Most returned student advises outbound students to not bring too many clothes and shoes. What’s fashionable is often different at the host country so students will most likely buy new things.
What to bring?
A comfortable pair of shoes. Your student will do a lot of walking while abroad. They should pack clothes that can be easily washed and dried. Leave out the bulky and heavy sweatshirt. Layering and mixing-and-matching are key. Most things that are available in the U.S. are generally also available overseas. Thus, hairdryers, toiletries, linens, eating utensils, etc. are best purchased on site. Also, research what the electrical specifications are at your student’s host country before he or she packs any electrical items.
Your student might also consider bringing his or her overseas academic advisor, host parents, exchange student coordinator, or resident director a little souvenir from HPU. An HPU keychain, T-shirt, pen, calendar, and other small items are quite appropriate. A gift is a small token of appreciation and a gracious gesture that will establish goodwill between the student and his or her hosts.
Phones & Gadgets
We are frequently asked if students can use their regular cell phone abroad. The answer is probably not, unless it’s a tri-band cell phone. Most US cell phones “can’t talk” to cell phones in the rest of the world. That is because the US and Canadian operating system, CDMA, and 75% of the world, GSM, are different.
The most reasonable choice is to purchase a phone when the student arrives at his or her destination. Many onsite orientation programs will include instructions and assistance for purchasing a cell phone. Buying a cell phone abroad is no more expensive than buying one in the U.S., and there is no need to get a plan that involves a monthly fee. For the most part, students pay as they go by “topping up” their minutes using a recharge card.
To “top up” a card, the student calls a number and adds minutes by paying with a credit card. Students can also purchase additional minutes with a SIM recharge card at any convenience store, grocery store, gas station, or news stand. GSM phones can be used almost anywhere. Incoming calls are often free.
Some students do purchase a tri-band cell phone before leaving for overseas. While convenient, the calls will not be cheap and there is a charge for both incoming and outgoing calls. Most of our students use the computer program “Skype,” as it provides free calls between PCs, and low rates on calls to phones.
Returned students have told us that having a laptop computer made writing papers and downloading photos more convenient. The AC adapter of most laptops today are dual voltage and can be used anywhere in the world with a plug adaptor. Some students however, had little use for computers and usually just went to numerous and affordable internet cafes in their host city to post photos online and communicate with family and friends by email.