Welcome to the millionth advice piece written about studying abroad. I know everyone blogs about things they wish they knew before beginning their studies in other countries, but there’s always more advice to be given. Before I left I did read some blogs about studying abroad in Costa Rica and a lot of the advice was very helpful, but one thing I wish I had known while packing to come was the stuff you should bring with you. There are so many things that are more expensive in Costa Rica or harder to find, and if I had known then I would have stocked up. So here it is, sh*t I wish I had known to bring with me in bulk. Some of this may be repetitive, but I hope you find something in my little advice column that better prepares you for your upcoming adventure:
1.Sunscreen, loads and loads of sunscreen: This one is so important. Sunscreen here is expensive; a small bottle of SPF 60 could easily be $7. And sunscreen is necessary here, like extremely necessary. Costa Rica is located below the equator so the sun is that much stronger and I’m going to assume that like me, your skin is not used to it. I use SPF 60, and so far it’s kept me from getting burned. But most of my friends have suffered pretty intense burns, especially when they first get here. If I had known better, I would have gone to a bulk store and bought a large amount of SPF 60. But because I didn’t know, I’m writing a blog post about it now, hoping that all you future study abroaders get the opportunity to buy sunscreen beforehand and therefore possibly spare yourselves some pretty gnarly burns.
2.Which brings me to the next thing I wish I brought Aloe (or any kind of moisturizer): You will get burned at least once. It’s inevitable, you’ll miss a spot or you’ll forget to reapply. The sun is strong here and it’s hard to make sure you have full body sunscreen coverage all the time, so again you will get burned at least once. And you’ll want aloe; because you are out in the sun so much, you’re going to want to heal that burn as fast as you can. Aloe, like sunscreen, is pretty expensive here. And also because of the constant sun and ocean water, your skin will dry out. So you’ll also want a good moisturizer. They have moisturizer here but again it’s expensive and it’s usually a walk to the nearest store that has the moisturizer you want. Save yourself the walk, the peeling, the dry skin and just buy your favorite moisturizer at home.
3.*This one is specifically for the ladies* Tampons, you should bring tampons or pads or whatever your sanitary napkin of choice is: These aren’t insanely expensive here but they’re not the same brands we have in the United States. So if you’re a loyal playtex customer, bring a few boxes with you abroad. Because you will get your period and you will need something, there’s no way around it.
4.The Peanut Butter Dilemma: Peanut butter isn’t exactly something you can bulk up on and bring it abroad with you, this is more just a warning. Peanut butter here is way more expensive than what we’re used to in the United States. Same goes for nutella (I know), so just prepare yourself and if you love peanut butter, be ready to scope out the places that have the big jars for cheaper prices.
5.Books: I like to read, and because of the plethora of beaches and long bus rides, I read books pretty quickly here. Many hostels have book exchanges, and these book exchanges often have some pretty good options. So bring easy small paperbacks that you’re willing to trade, and then if you don’t like the book you chose, just trade it next time. It never hurts to have a few books to trade whether it be at a hostel or with a fellow traveler.
And there are many more things that many other people can suggest or advice. But for me these are the only things, and even with these little packing regrets, I am having the best time of my life. I hope whoever reads this feels a little more comfortable with packing and therefore a little more comfortable with studying abroad, because believe me it is all worth it.