intern in Asia

Internship packing list - what to bring for your internship

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packing for your internship

Whether it’s for two days, two weeks or two months, packing for a trip is never easy. As you race against the clock to plan multiple outfits and remember all other essentials, excitement can quickly turn to panic. Add to this the need to prepare for work, relaxation and adventure, and it’s no wonder that interns get stressed at the prospect of packing for their time abroad. Fortunately, having been through it ourselves, we Intern Asia know just how you’re feeling. We’ve put together a list of all the essentials to help take some of the pressure off packing for your internship in Asia.


Get Organised

what to pack for your internship in AsiaFirst thing’s first; be prepared. You wouldn’t leave finding an internship position to the last minute, so why do so with packing? Start by making a list well in advance and adding things to it as they come to mind. This way, you’re more likely to remember things you may otherwise forget, and you’ll feel far less stressed later on. We’ve all had that last-minute panic before heading to the airport for a 6-month adventure - trust us, it’s not fun. The earlier you get ready, the more time you can spend saying your goodbyes and preparing for what’s waiting for you at the other end.


When packing for your internship, it’s important to remember that first impressions count. You may not know how you’re expected to dress until you arrive on your first day. In this case, play it safe and take smart/casual professional outfits. Remember; it’s easier to dress down after your first day than it is to erase a bad first impression.

internship packing listIf your internship is in a particular field such as nursing, check with your internship provider if you need any specific clothes or equipment. Though your company is likely to provide you with everything you need, it’s better to be prepared!

An internship abroad is about more than just the 9-5, so when packing your clothes consider what you might get up to in your free time. Do you plan to trek the Great Wall during your internship in Beijing? Or perhaps you’re planning to break up your busy schedule with some rest and relaxation on the gorgeous beaches of Okinawa? Wherever you’re headed, be sure to check the surroundings for things you might like to see or do and pack accordingly.

On a similar note, be sure to check the climate of your internship destination. Though Asia might sound exotic and warm, some places can drop well below freezing at certain times of year, and you don’t want to be caught out! Many Asian countries are far more conservative than we are in the West, and religion plays a much larger role in local customs. You should take this into consideration when deciding what to pack, particularly if you’re interning in Buddhist countries like Nepal, Cambodia or India, where showing your shoulders or knees may be considered disrespectful. 


Practical Things

Once you’ve tackled the task of deciding what to clothes to bring, it’s time to think of everything else. If you’re travelling from afar, you’re going to need travel adaptors for your electronic devices. These are readily available in various shops or the airport.

packing for my internship abroadAside from your phone, laptop, tablet and chargers, you might want to take a USB stick. These take up almost no space at all and you never know when they might come in useful! Mobile phones are generally very cheap in Asia, so it’s certainly possible to buy one when you arrive. However, if you don’t want to do that, try to get your phone unlocked before you leave your home country, so you can use a local SIM card.

You might wish to take a supply of toiletries to last you the first couple of weeks in Asia. It’s important to note that some products can be more expensive (deodorant), or hard to find (paracetamol) in some locations, so if you have the space it might be a good idea to pack extra. Women in many Asian countries, particularly China and Japan, wish to have paler skin, meaning that many beauty products there contain bleaching agent. Cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Tokyo are home to large expat communities who are well catered for in this department, but if you’re going off the beaten track to a city like Chengdu or if you like using particular products, this is worth keeping in mind.


Travel Documents

packing for an internship abroadWhile clothes, electronics and toiletries are important, you won’t get very far if you forget your travel documents. Your passport and visa should be at the top of this list, along with photocopies of each. If you’ve chosen to do your internship through one of our partner organisations, they will provide you with all the help and information you need to legally enter your host country. If you’re going through a company directly, be sure to contact them to check you have all the required documents well before your departure date. If your host company or internship organiser has sent you any important documents, be sure to print them off and take copies with you. It might sound like overpreparation, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!

It’s important you get appropriate insurance for any trip abroad, and this should rank high on your pre-departure checklist. Be sure to look for a policy that covers you for the duration of your placement and for all the activities you plan to do. If you’re going through an internship provider like Hutong School, don’t forget to check out their reasonably priced insurance packages.

When it comes to finance, it’s always a good idea to take some currency with you to last the first few days. Depending on where you intern, it might be possible to set up a local bank account. Otherwise, try to get a currency card before you leave your home country, as this significantly reduces ATM withdrawal fees.

Positive Attitude

internship in AsiaAside from all of the above, it’s important you take along a positive attitude and an open mind. An internship in Asia is a life-changing, rewarding experience that will stay with you forever. It can also be challenging at times however, so it’s important to be prepared for this. Be open to taking on different tasks, accepting different points of view, and learning about a new culture. Show your colleagues you’re willing to learn and take every opportunity you get to socialise, network, and learn some of the local language. In doing so, you’ll get far more out of your internship and make wonderful memories and contacts that last a lifetime.

The Bigger Picture

We know from experience how stressful packing your things for an extended trip abroad can be, but if there’s one thing we’ve learnt it’s that ultimately the material things don’t matter. If you forget your favourite shirt or your toothbrush, it’s not the end of the world – most things are just as easy to buy in Asia as they are at home, so don’t get hung up on the small things. As long as you head off with your passport, visa, insurance, and a positive attitude everything will be fine!

Still not convinced you should do an internship in Asia? Find out why we think you should

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