From the very beginning of this blogging job, I wanted to write a post on how to pack for studying in Japan. I thought that by writing it last I would be able to share some wisdom on what I learned this semester… aka what I didn’t pack and wish I had, or what I packed and really didn’t use. Please take note that this is from my own personal experience, and I am not an expert.
1.) Pack outfits. I didn’t pack outfits when I studied in NYC and all my clothes didn’t match, it was very unfortunate. I had packed all patterned pieces.
2.) Pack your favorites, or what you feel most confident wearing. You will feel like a total alien compared to the small, cute Japanese persons around you, so bring clothes that you feel confident wearing. No need to feel like the duckling, heck we are swans here.
3.) Pack a sweater or sweatshirt. Yes, it is relatively warmer in Tokyo compared to Philadelphia, even more so compared to my university in Holland, Michigan. However, Japanese do not rely on central heating like we do in the states. Especially if you are living with a host family, bring something warm for in the house. This is unless you plan on buying a little night fleece set from uniqlo.
4.) Try to pack only a suitcase, and pack a bag or buy a cheap one for the return. You are able to take 2 pieces of luggage on your flight 50lbs each in addition to a carry on. I packed one very large suitcase exactly 50lbs. and put a overnight bag inside and had my backpack and purse. I am very glad I did this, because I am not worried about bringing gifts back home and the various other things I have acquired. I have a whole new bag to stuff that I didn’t use when I arrived.
5.) Bring shoes that you can easily slip on and off, just in case you are entering into a home or a location that is more traditional. You don’t want to be the one everyone is waiting on for your shoes.
6.) Bring small gifts from home for meeting new people, and for when you leave. Stuff with TEMPLE on it, your home town’s name, USA, American candy, or home made goods are my recommendations. It is really socially correct to give gifts upon entering someone’s house, or just someone who you have worked for during your time in Japan.
7.) Go to hyakuyen shops (100yen) for gifts. Everything is 105 (the 5 is the tax) and there are lots of fun little trinkets you can find for souvenirs for family and friends.
8.) Bring a journal. I am terrible at journaling regularly, but it is really helpful to document your thoughts when abroad. You are learning a lot and experiencing a lot of new things. Don’t let yourself forget the experience, also it is therapeutic.
9.) People in Japan dress nicely. Just be aware of this. You can choose to try to dress Japanese-like, but as a foreigner it is okay to be different. Allow yourself your identity.
10.) Remember chargers and cords, along with a converter for plugs that are 3 pronged to become 2 pronged. Not all Japanese plugs are only 2 pronged, but mostly.
11.) Bring reminders of home for yourself or to show to others, like pictures. People love to see where you are from and who is important.
12.) Bring a favorite little snack from home, sometimes when adjusting those first few days or weeks it is really comforting to have a taste of home.
13.) and don’t forget your toothbrush, they are different here.
I know I am forgetting things, but I am going to leave it at that. I hope that anyone who is thinking about traveling abroad, especially Japan, goes for it! It is a great experience, and you grow a lot during your time abroad.