1. Euros: This might seem like the thing that can be put off until you actually arrive in Florence, but I would highly recommend having some euros with you to be able to pay taxis, get a bite to eat or make a phone call. I first arrived in Pisa and luckily was able to convert some money at the airport to be able to pay the shuttle to get to the train station, but be warned: airport ATMs are expensive. This was my first mistake. Again, I would strongly suggest converting at least with you before arriving so you can avoid the high fees airports charge to exchange. When you want to take money out at an ATM, it’s safer to make sure it’s located in a bank or establishment.
2. Converter: Something I initially forgot about and was only reminded of when my sister had bought one for me. I’ve also come to realize that not just any converter will do. You’ll need to get one that is a European converter. Be careful not to confuse this with a UK converter. My sister got mine for around $3.00 at Wal-Mart and it works perfectly fine.
3. Toiletries: This one is not required per say, but I found it to be very comforting that I already had my toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, face wash, shampoo and conditioner, shaving cream, and towel already with me. Two advantages to that: I saved money and I’ll have extra space for all those gifts I’ll be bringing back for my family and friends (or myself).
4. Copies of all important papers: Not only recommended by me personally, but the school as well – always have more than just one copy of your important papers. Because we all know, that it’s possible to lose passports, consulate letters, IDs with all the stress of traveling. I also wrote down the phone number of the school and the address of my apartment and school. Triple check your school’s website and your consulate’s website to make sure you have everything you need for your passport Visa, and permit of stay.
5. Appropriate clothes and shoes: Perhaps the thing I was least prepared for was the weather. I came to Italy with the expectation that I’d be leaving behind snow and winter in Wisconsin. By the first weekend trip to Casentino Valley I realized I did not bring the appropriate clothes or shoes. Check the weather before you even start to pack! Many other students bought gloves and hats while we were there so luckily I wasn’t the only one unprepared. Bringing a few layers, a good jacket and scarf and some comfortable sneakers will go a long way!
– Lena Ali