How To Home-ify Your Study Abroad Accommodations (On The Cheap)

Moving to a different country, no matter how far away from home it is, can be stressful. You want to make sure you bring everything you need, pack your clothes, and grab any other essentials that you can’t live without. For me, I need my space to be cozy and homey so that I feel comfortable and successful wherever I am. Having a home that reflects my memories, personality, and interests reinforces how confident I am despite how far away from home I may be. I really struggled with this during my semester in Scotland, eventually ended up missing a lot of things from home but making do with what I had. My study abroad experience was in a dorm, but many people also live with host families. In case you’re worried that you’re taking over space or risking damaging walls, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Here’s a few inexpensive and easy to pack items to bring with you or collect during your semester abroad!

Command Hooks

I mentioned this in my last article about study abroad essentials, but it doesn’t hurt to say it twice. Bring command hooks! These babies help you stay organized and decorate at the same time. They are simple to assemble and remove when you leave. I used command hooks to hang bags, coats, my bath towel, and some twinkle lights for decoration. Don’t be fooled: hanging things up like clothes and tote bags act as decorations too! Cover up those white walls with your everyday essentials. Something else you can do is hang string on a few hooks and clip photos onto the string with clothespins. Get creative!


Bring a cute calendar with you from home that brings a little color or nostalgia to your new space. One of our Christmas traditions is getting new calendars for the new year from my Mom, so I’m used to having a fun one every year. You can find some fun and pretty travel themed ones here or here. Your calendar can play two roles: easy decorating and count-down to travels and homecoming!


The cheapest way to decorate your walls is with printed photos and poster putty. Through companies like Shutterfly or Snapfish (USA), print out different sizes and shapes of photos that remind you of your friends, family, or favorite memories. You may be exploring and making new relationships abroad, but it’s always comforting to see familiar faces and fond memories every day. Stick those photos up on a wall that you’ll look at often, being creative with how you arrange them! I always do a big cluster, but I’ve seen people spell words or make cool shapes with their printed photos.


Souvenirs: Maps, Brochures, Tickets

Now it’s time for the one you can’t start until you get there. Most residences provide a cork board to pin things on, but if you don’t have one, don’t worry! Use that post putty you brought for photos and put up fun mementos from your adventures. Keep your train/bus/plane tickets, brochures from places you visit, or random flyers from your university or host town. Be on the lookout for pretty (free!) things that make your space a little brighter.

If you’re journaling during your time abroad like I did, I loved taking tickets and brochures and gluing them inside my journal entries. For the mementos that didn’t mean as much to me or were too big to fit inside my journal, I put those up on my wall or cork board. Collecting these can be fun, free, and you don’t feel guilty throwing them away at the end of the semester.


Blankets and Pillows

No need to take up precious room in that suitcase – get yourself to your local home décor or grocery store and find a cheap but soft blanket. Pick out your favorite color or print, express yourself in the little ways! If you’re in a North American or European country, you can often order through Amazon Prime as well. Having extra pillows also made my bed a lot comfier and more welcoming when I had friends over. I bought a throw blanket and a few pillows for around $10 in the UK, which went a long way during the semester.

There you have it! Five inexpensive or free ways to home-ify your study abroad accommodations. Trust me, making your new space comfy and colorful makes it easier to feel like home. What’s your favorite piece of décor that makes you feel at home?

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Kendall Varin

I'm a native Idaho girl who decided to branch out from my roots in the Pacific Northwest. The last autumn semester of my senior year I was very studious (and slightly adventurous) in Scotland. Having lived six places in the last two years, I don't plan to stop there. I'm convinced my life’s purpose is to meet and love as many people from all over the world as I can. Follow my blog as I post about confidently traveling solo, studying literature in a different country, and how little it takes to truly feel at home! For a little Scottish appreciation, make sure to check out my Instagram too!

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