Saturday, May 5, 2018


I will forever and always identify myself as a horrible packer. I’m the type who shoves everything I possibly can into a suitcase the night before and hopes for the best. This approach never seems to go over well, and I usually spend the entire plane ride remembering things I should have brought. Learn from my mistakes. Here are a few things I wish I had considered while packing for my semester in Uruguay!

1. An old cell phone
Knowing my Type B, hot-mess of a self, I really should have anticipated breaking my phone. When my friend dove into the ocean with my phone in his pocket, I knew it was a goner. It would have been nice to have thought to bring an old phone or iPod so that I wouldn’t have been without a device for a long period of time. I didn’t realize how much I relied on apps like uber, venmo, maps, and google translate until I didn’t have them. If you’re anything like me, it might be beneficial to bring a backup!

2. Toiletry products: shampoo, conditioner, face wash, contact solution
For some reason unbeknownst to me, toiletry products are super pricey in Uruguay. Basic shampoo can go for about eight dollars, and a travel sized contact solution can go for sixteen. I packed only travel sized products thinking that I would buy other products when I ran out of my little ones but they proved to be pretty costly to replace. This definitely doesn’t apply to all countries, but it might be worth checking into before packing for a semester abroad. If you’ve got extra room in your suitcase, you might as well!

3. My hiking pack instead of a suitcase
When I was packing, I opted to bring a suitcase instead of a backpacking backpack. Later down the road, I really regretted this. I ended up doing a substantial amount of hiking during my semester, but I had to rent my backpack because I left mine at home. A hiking pack would have been really convenient for my trips to Patagonia, Rio, Floripa, etc. because it’s much easier to transport for short trips like those.

4. Specific foods from the States
When I came to Uruguay, I really wanted to embrace the Uruguayan diet and get creative with what was available here. This was a good thought and a good experience, but I would be lying if I said I hadn’t had some intense cravings for Tomato and Basil Wheat-Thins.

5. Books
I brought one book abroad thinking that if I had some downtime, it’d be nice to do a bit of light reading. I had heard all about the ‘tranquilo’ culture, but hadn’t thought that it provided a perfect environment to plow through books. I finished the book within the first week and have been wishing I had another ever since. I’ve had to find other ways to embrace the laid-back pace of life here, but more on that later!



Lindsey Towle

Lindsey Towle is a journalism and global health major at the University of Iowa, who will be spending her semester in Montevideo, Urugauy, in a program administered by the University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC).

Interested in going abroad? Learn more about first steps