Though there are definitely moments where physical survival is a concern in study abroad (looking at you, China, and your utterly delicious but prone-to-cause-food-poisoning food), more often than not what is toughest is emotional survival. Over the years I’ve developed a “survival kit” of small things either for myself to carry with me or as a gift to friends going abroad for the first time. Here is a general idea of what I include — either as gift ideas for someone you know is going abroad or as an idea of things you might want to pack if you are going abroad yourself!
1. Earplugs + basic medicine: emotional health does in part depend on physical health, and not being able to sleep in a dorm or a hostel because it is too loud is just miserable. I also like including very basic medicine if I know the person is attached to a particular brand of say, cough drops, that can’t be found abroad – it helps!
2. Tea (or other hot drinks) and chocolate: my approach to comforting a friend in any language always starts with an offer of tea and chocolate – there is something so comforting about brewing a cup of tea and taking the time out to sit down and savor it.