For students interested in study abroad in general, here are a few things I regret not packing at all, or packing too much of:
-Reading glasses. Even if you only use them sparingly at home like I do, reading a foreign alphabet in small textbook font causes a lot more strain. I’m actually concerned that I may be damaging my vision at this point.
-A laundry bag. If you live in the dorms, you will need something in which to bring your laundry up and down three flights of stairs. If you don’t live in dorms and move to a homestay, a laundry bag is still helpful for keeping your dirty laundry contained, as a shopping bag (plastic bags here cost money), as a gym bag, or as padding for when you realize you purchased too many souvenirs that could be described as “delicate.” Laundry lines and clothespins are also helpful to set up in your dorm room, as dryers are uncommon in Russia.
-Writing implements, highlighters, page tabs, etc. If you use a lot of mechanical pencils, those really haven’t caught on here in a big way and you might want to pack enough for a whole semester. Maybe more, because your peers will undoubtedly also forget about writing implements and will permanently borrow yours. There are a lot of small stores in Russia, but they can be pretty random and you might have trouble finding highlighters or office-type supplies when you need them.
-Dollars cash. This is something I brought too much of. Trying to exchange money at a Russian kiosk is like working with the pickiest of vending machines. Any U.S. currency must be be crisp and free of even the slightest tears, creased/faded spots, or pen marks. Of course, the rubles you get in return will look like they were just fished out of a gutter. As a result, I now have a fair amount of money that is completely useless until I get to London, or even Boston. Oh well, at least I won’t go home completely broke.
Other commonly-forgotten items: charging cords, memory cards, backup pairs of gloves, pocket umbrellas, enough snacks to get through the initial plane rides/layovers/settling-in period, sports bras, presents from America for host families, batteries, plug converters, basic medicines and vitamins, bath towels, and bathing suits (I don’t care if it’s Russia–there’s still spring break travels, hotel pools, and banyas).