What to Pack for Greece
There is no such thing as taking too little, although it's hard for us to convince students that this is true. Just ask someone who has studied abroad before, and you'll probably be advised to leave as much as you can at home.
"Pack everything you might need, then take half of it out," was one student's advice. It will be there when you get back. Let practicality be your guide for packing.
Keep in mind that overseas it's perfectly acceptable to wear the same outfit a few times in one week. If you plan carefully so that all articles of clothing mix and match, you can create plenty of different outfits from a minimum number of items. Also remember that the weather can vary quite a bit throughout the day and from town to town. Choose clothes that are good for layering.
- The leave-half-behind rule. You are going to have to carry whatever you pack by yourself, so leave behind half of what you think you need. You will be limited to two pieces of checked luggage and one carry-on bag on the flight, and even that is more than you can comfortably carry. Large, hard-sided suitcases are tough to carry and even more difficult to store.
- Use Duffel Bags with wheels or a good, internal frame BACKPACK. Closet space will not be as generous as what you are used to, so even if you can get it there, you won't necessarily know where to put it.
- No one has ever complained about taking too little luggage. If you don't believe this, talk to a student who has done it before. Every year we see unhappy students struggle to get a mountain of their own luggage on and off busses and up and down stairs. Don't be one of them.
- We'll say this in a more serious way. Neither Arcadia University nor our group flight carrier can guarantee the immediate transport of more than two pieces of stowed luggage and a carry-on piece. Students should be prepared to move their luggage through airports, on and off busses during orientation, and up several flights of stairs to their rooms. Student rooms are normally equipped with only a foot and a half of hanging space and two, three-foot bureau drawers or the equivalent shelf space, and emptied luggage is usually stored under beds. Keep this in mind when you're packing.
The climate varies across Greece. Winter weather in is typically in the 30s/40s and snowfall is rare. Without the powerful heating that you may be used to, it will seem colder, so remember to wear layers.
In the summer it is very hot with temperatures and seasons that correspond to the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. Remember, though, that air conditioning is not common in homes, businesses, and transport so it will seem even hotter!
Practical and sturdy clothes are what you need for your stay in Greece. Here's a list of things to take:
- A coat or windbreaker: Depending on what temperatures you are used to in the US, Athens in December may feel cold. It can be 40°F, or sometimes temperatures go down to freezing.
- Jeans: Bring several pairs (including khakis or light weight trousers). Greek students dress a bit more formally than in the US, but jeans are acceptable and popular student attire.
- Sturdy lace up shoes are a good choice for field trips, and for the rather rough sidewalks and streets. Greeks walk a lot and you'll want to be able to keep up. A couple of pairs of casual shoes(loafers, Doc Martens, sneakers or running shoes) for skirts and trousers. The one pair of comfortable walking shoes should be usable for hikes in the countryside, as these hikes are not in the mountains and are not too difficult. Athenian streets may be rough, but past students have managed in city shoes, so you may want to bring sneakers, walking shoes and whatever you consider dressy.
- One pair of slippers so you don't bother your downstairs neighbors. (Greek apartments usually have no carpets).
- Turtlenecks for keeping warm in the winter.
- Pajamas (flannel, sweats or long underwear for sleeping and warmth in the winter).
- Underwear and lots of socks You'll probably want at least two to three weeks' worth. Women can take tights.
- Dressy outfits for going out (shoes, accessories, trousers, dress/skirt/blouse).
- Sweaters and sweatshirts If you shop carefully in Athens, wool sweaters are not terribly expensive.
- Several cotton T-shirts: long sleeve and short sleeve. Good for layering when it's cold. Washing is slightly more difficult, so you may want enough for 2 + weeks.
- Hat, scarf, and glovesif 40°F is cold for you.
The Athenian Dress Code
Students who have participated on the program in the past have said it is important to know how stylish the Athenians dress. Elementary school students aside, young Greek women and men are very keen on tailored clothes and baggy attire is not acceptable. They tuck in their shirts and wear belts with their trousers and jeans with belts. Sweats are worn only to the gym.
You should feel free to bring what you would wear at your home school as well as things that you might consider slightly too dressy for at home. We want to stress that layers, cotton and sweats will be needed to stay warm in the under-heated apartments. The list above is a guide for you to consider.
Also, clothes are not terribly expensive in certain shops, so you can buy a few things upon arrival.
Want to Blend In? Here is a list of things that "scream" American that you may want to avoid:
- Teva sandals (Birkenstocks are okay)
- Big hiking boots (you do need good walking shoes, but unless you are going rock climbing, real hiking boots are not necessary)
Sheets and Towels
You will need to bring your own sheets and towels. We provide blankets and pillows. Bring two sets of flat twin sheets (not fitted). Two towels should be enough. Don't forget a washcloth.
Hairdryers and other electrical appliances
Irons will be provided in Arcadia University housing.
Do not bring a hair dryer from the US because using one in your Athenian apartment usually results in blowing the fuses! Be prepared to buy a hair dryer in Athens. The Arcadia Center has several hair dryers left by previous students. These, and other small useful appliances, will be raffled off during orientation week.
If you wear soft lenses, bring all of your solution from home. You may not find your brand abroad and, even if you do, it will be very expensive. Remember, Greece is often dusty in hot weather creating problems for lens-wearers. Be sure to bring along a pair of regular glasses as well as sunglasses.
Disinfecting units are a problem
Because of the difference in voltage, the timer may not shut off properly. Besides, it may be hard to find electrical outlets when you're on the road traveling. However, if you can't stand chemicals, try the dual voltage (120/240) unit from Cooper Vision.
Bring your laptop with you. The Arcadia Center and all the student apartments are equipped with wireless internet. There are 12 desktop computers in the Arcadia Center computer lab as well as one student printer.
These count as one piece of luggage on the flight if they're large (like guitars). If you bring an instrument, make sure it is properly insured and safeguarded for travel in a sturdy, hard-surfaced case.
A bicycle isn't practical in Athens, so leave yours at home.
A backpack or book bag
You'll need a small bag for books and perhaps a larger backpack (with frame) for weekend trips and field trips. Large backpacks count as one piece of luggage on the flight over since they're too large to take on board as carry-on luggage.
Don't invest in a brand new set of luggage for the trip. A sturdy suitcase or duffel bag and one backpack will do. Duffel bags are the easiest to store and practical as long as they're a reasonable size. If your duffel bag is bigger than you are, it's too big. Whatever luggage you choose, be sure to put your name and home address on a luggage tag on the outside and on a piece of paper in an inside pocket.
A camera will help you to capture your overseas experience. One word of caution, though, cameras disappear. If you have an expensive camera, have it insured.
You'll find everything you'll need in Greece, so don't bring extra supplies with you.
If you take a prescription medication make sure you have enough to last your entire stay abroad. Don't assume that you can get the same medication abroad. A prescription from home will NOT be filled in Greece. You'll need a new one from a Greek doctor before you can purchase a refill. Be sure all prescriptions you take with you are labeled with your name, the name of your physician and the generic name of the medication.
Pack the small, battery-operated, travel kind. It's an absolute must if you want to catch an early train.
Photos from home
Bring along your favorite photos of your family and friends. You can decorate your room with them and show them to people you meet.
Academic papers, fax and phone numbers, e-mail addresses
Pack a copy of your college's undergraduate catalog and/or any papers you were given with instructions about credit transfer. Also remember to pack the course descriptions you received for your program and anything else you received from us. You'll need to refer to these materials overseas. Your study abroad advisor's/home school's fax and phone numbers, as well as the e-mail address, will prove to be helpful too, especially if you have to contact your advisor for course approval.
Security and Insurance
The Arcadia University College of Global Studies supports the guidelines described in "Responsible Study Abroad: Health and Safety Guidelines" for program sponsors, participants and parents by the Interorganizational Task Force on Safety and Responsibility in Study Abroad. To view the complete text of these guidelines, visit on our website.
A little common sense goes a long way. Do not bring any valuables which promote theft and cannot be easily replaced. Put identification labels inside each of your bags (not just on the outside). We also recommend that you leave a photocopy of the data page of your passport (passport number, the date and place of issue) at home and keep a copy with your belongings in case it is lost or stolen. To insure your baggage and personal effects inexpensively, investigate adding a rider to your family's homeowners' policy or purchase personal possessions insurance. Arcadia University does not insure your possessions against loss or theft, but you can and should. Some other valuable tips to protect yourself include:
- Leave irreplaceable items of high monetary or sentimental value at home.
- Do not carry a lot of cash.
- Use safes in hotels and hostels.
- Wear a neck pouch with your money and passport in it inside your coat or clothing.
- Pickpockets and petty thieves sometimes target tourists and other unsuspecting newcomers. Be very careful to protect your belongings, especially during the your first few days in the country.
Shipping and Storing Personal Effects Overseas.
If you pack carefully, you will be able to fit all that you need within the airline baggage allowance (two checked pieces and one carry-on). We strongly recommend against your planning to have things sent to you after you settle in overseas. You may have things shipped to the Arcadia office, but they must arrive after you do. Shipping overseas can be very expensive, so you may want to comparison shop to find the best rates. Since there is always an Arcadia staff member in our office, we recommend that you send mail, particularly parcels, to the Arcadia Center.
Whatever you do, do not send a trunk. Even if you can find a freight forwarder to ship it and clear it through customs, it will be difficult to handle once you get it, a problem to store, and even more troublesome and expensive to send back home.
Keep in mind that when you ship items, Customs officials sometimes add a VAT (Value Added Tax). If your friends or family are shipping items to you, make sure that all tags are removed from the item and mark the package "For personal Use Only." In general, it is better to bring all items with you in your luggage and NOT have additional items shipped unless absolutely necessary.