Packing for Aix-en-Provence
Suitcase full of cranes by neoliminal
One of the most aggravating aspects of the "before you go" period is without a doubt, packing; and with new airline checked-baggage regulations, the task is about to become even more frightening. By now, you’ve surely asked the question that even the lightest of packers ponder: How do I pack an entire year’s worth of belongings into one suitcase? That answer is simple. You don’t. Instead, you should pack the absolute necessities for the first few months, and plan to purchase or ship what you will need later on.For example, you will most likely be arriving in Aix-en-Provence in August or September, months in which your boots-with-the-fur will certainly not be needed. The weather stays fairly hot and muggy until the middle of October or beginning of November, so plan to arrive in Aix with light-weight, summer clothing, and have a parent or a helpful friend ship your warmer clothing in increments, starting at the beginning of October.
Shipping costs can be pricey, but checking an extra bag or two in order to bring along your snowboarding gear four months before you’ll be hitting the French Alps will be much pricier - not to mention heavy, and an extra 68kg combined with jet lag, heat and a lack of escalators, will not yield a happy arrival in Aix.
Keeping a limited wardrobe in mind, it might be best to first sort through everything you would like to have with you in Aix during your year abroad. Examine what you have chosen, being conscious of what you will need versus what you simply want to have with you, or that you can easily buy in France. Then, decide what you will need to have in Aix right away, what can be shipped later in the year, and what is unnecessary to bring at all.
These are a few of the things I would recommend you bring WITH YOU to Aix:
• 10-12 light-weight tanks or shirts
• Two pairs of jeans
• Two pairs of shorts
• One or two sweaters or light-weight jackets
• Two nice shirts/dresses
• Undergarments and socks (this should be obvious, but just to be clear)
• A couple different pairs of pyjamas
• Two or three pairs of shoes
• One bathing suit
• Any photos you might want with you
• Money belt
• A small-amount of cash to exchange upon arrival
• Debit/Credit card
• Passport and Visa (with copies of both)
• Printed directions to your hotel/group-meeting place
• A couple books or magazines
• Cosmetics (girls: cosmetics are very expensive in Aix; it might be worth buying extra of your favorite brand before you go)
• Glasses/extra contacts
• Any medications you will need
• A travel backpack
• Cold remedies (Nyquil, Dayquil, etc. are not available in Aix)
• Alarm clock
• Shower shoes
Things you should buy IN Aix:
• Toiletries, such as shampoo, conditioner and bath soap
• Bath towels
• Sheets and bedding (if not with a host family; however, most rented flats will come with bedding, as well)
• Any hair dryers, straighteners, etc. (if coming from the U.S., the use of most American hair appliances is an electrical/fire hazard, even with a converter)
Tip: Monoprix (on the Cours Mirabeau) is the first place new students flock to when on the hunt for bedding, towels and other post-arrival necessities, as the store is big, obvious and looks like Target. However, most students discover that the prices at Monoprix are higher than they’d prefer to pay. Be sure to browse through the smaller shops and at the marché first. You will most likely find everything you need at a much more reasonable price.
Things you should have SHIPPED to Aix:
• Heavy winter coats
• Ski/Snowboarding gear
• Hats, gloves, etc.
• Extra shoes/clothing you might want with you
(Here's a recommended shipping company)
Remember: Aix offers some of the best shopping in the South of France, and you will most likely want to take part. Don’t waste money shipping anything over that you plan to buy anyway.