So, you’ve made the huge decision to spend an American summer at MSU with ASP and now you’re wondering what to pack? Well, you’re in luck, as we’ve compiled a list of things to bring, and things to skip, when stuffing your suitcases for one of the best adventures of your life.
You might be more accustomed to the terms ‘swimming costume’, ‘boardies’, or ‘cossie’, but with small lakes around campus (like Lake Lansing), and the Great Lakes surrounding the state, your favorite bathing suit should definitely make the cut.
North American plugs differ from those around the world, and adapters can be expensive to buy in regular stores in the States. Ordering them online, and bringing a couple with you can save you the headache of having to hunt them down or pay higher prices for them while here. Don’t forget that you’ll need voltage adapters too!
Comfortable Walking Shoes
Americans have a (somewhat well earned) reputation for being inactive, but over the course of the summer – and at MSU in particular – you’ll be doing loads of walking. Our campus is large, and in order for you to see all the beautiful parts (of which there are many) you’ll want to make sure your feet are up for the challenge. If you’re not keen on walking, MSU has a bike store where you can rent out bikes by the hour or for the time that you’re here.
While on your summer program you may have opportunities to meet with industry professionals, and there will be a few ceremonies put on by ASP for you to attend (including faculty who you’ll be working with), it’s important to put a good foot forward and be ready to dress to impress. In American work culture, dressing appropriately is significant when making first impressions. Will you need a floor length ball gown? No, but something you’d wear to a graduation ceremony or an important business meeting will cut the mustard.
Power bank/External Battery Charger
Long days in class, out to eat, or exploring new cities might have you using your phone more than you’re used to (it doesn’t happen if it’s not on Instagram, right?). This is one thing that you can’t buy here, or at least won’t be totally compatible with the voltage usage of your phone. Also keep in mind that the TSA has rules regarding batteries, they must be in carry on luggage, and have to be below a certain wH. You can find out more on their website.
An Open Mind
A little cliché, we know, but the best way to make your experience great is YOU and the way you approach all the opportunities that the program has to offer. Going abroad can challenge even the most basic predetermined opinions you have. Are all Americans loud, fat, and rude? Of course not, and you’ll find that no matter where you go in the world no population fits their stereotype to a t, some not even at all. Each event has been selected and designed to give you a great experience and a taste of what American life is like, the amount of value you get out of them is up to you and how much you allow yourself to learn.
If you use a hairdryer regularly, it can be better to buy a cheap one when you get here (they’re often a few varieties available for between 15 and 30 dollars each). Voltage adapters and hairdryers often don’t mix, resulting in the hairdryer dying, or sometimes causing it to malfunction. Hairdryers take up a load of space in your bag, and with only a few precious pounds (lb not £) it’s a simple thing to leave at home and acquire here. You may even find that purchasing one and sharing it with the people you live near can help you form friendships.
8,000 Pairs of Shoes
Keep it simple, summers in Michigan are warm, and as we previously stated you’ll be doing a lot of walking. Bringing along one pair of dress shoes, a pair of good walking shoes, and a pair of sandals should do the trick. If you find you need something that you haven’t brought with you, the East Lansing area is packed with stores, including a mall that’s about 15 minutes by bus down the road.
Early on in your program we’ll take a trip as a group to Meijer, a Michigan based grocery store chain. Meijer is a supermarket and will have pretty much anything you’d need all in one place, with huge varieties in soaps, shampoos, and lotions. Unless you have allergies or skin sensitivity to certain products, bring travel sized versions with you, and buy a full size bottle here.
Any Everyday Clothing You Can’t Mix and Match
Have a top that only matches one other item you’re bringing? Ditch it, and focus on clothing articles that can be mixed and matched with a variety of what you’re bringing, so you can get the most out of your wardrobe (and spend less on laundry and extra baggage space).
This also goes for clothes you’ve purchased ages ago, but still haven’t worn.
Family heirlooms and expensive jewelry items are best left at home, and as a rule of thumb never put anything in your checked bag that you can’t replace. Between lost bags and stolen items, traveling has a way of making you lose something at some point, but if it’s just a pair of white canvas shoes, that’s easy enough to fix.
In general, keep in mind that you’ll probably be collecting a few items during your time at MSU and in the States, so packing with some empty room in your suitcase ensures that you’ll have room to bring back all the knick knacks and gifts that you’ll be buying for your loved ones at home.
Interested in learning more about our programs and exchanges? Take a look at our website, americansemester.msu.edu, where you can find a variety of resources.