Thanks for stopping by! I’m Grace van Meurer, a graphic designer and illustrator with a passion for interior spaces. This is where I share my DIY home improvement projects and insights. Cheers!

What to pack for a year abroad

What to pack for a year abroad

Written by Elaina Jindra

When I moved to Spain for a year of living and teaching abroad I was overwhelmed with how I was going to pack appropriately for a whole year. I limited myself to bringing a backpacking backpack, a carry on suitcase, and a school bag to get me through the 4 seasons of living in Madrid. 

A majority of my space was taken up by clothing that I won’t bore you with, but I want to share some household essentials I was glad I brought, some things that I loved that I bought when I was there, and the one thing that I wished I had left behind.


Household Essentials I was Glad I Brought

  • Kitchen Knives: My husband and I packed 2 nice steak knives and a nice chopping knife. We like cooking and didn’t want to be frustrated by not being able to properly chop or by spending a decent amount of money on knives we would likely only keep for a year. I was also glad we brought only 3 knives because we got to meet our neighborhood knife sharpener when they were getting dull.

  • Some artwork: I brought a variety of art prints to hang on my walls. I only brought the actual prints, without frames, and made sure they could fit in a standard sized folder (~8.5x11”) so they didn’t get damaged. I was glad to have some homey art to make me feel like home when I was thousands of miles away.

  • A Turkish Towel: I was happy to have my lightweight and pretty turkish towel on the airplane before I even got to Spain! Once I got there, I used it as my bath towel and took it with me to the community pool and to a handful of beach vacations. I was very happy to have it!

  • Chapstick: Besides Nivea and Carmex, many chapstick brands are hard to find or very expensive in Spain. I didn’t know how much I loved Chapstick brand until I ran out. I was happy to have  had as much as I did.

  • Not an essential, but I like decorating my home, so I displayed a cute backpack and my baseball cap as a way to make it feel like my own space, while also making it functional for me.


Household Purchases We Loved;

Beyond the basics of bedding, and dishes, we were so happy to have some small things that made our spanish piso feel like home.

  • FORSA Desk Lamp from IKEA: the green color was so adorable to us and we were able to sell it for half the price we paid for it when we left! We want to buy a new one now that we are settling into a new place in Milwaukee!

  • Throw Pillows: We bought some throw pillow inserts from IKEA as well as inexpensive throw pillow covers from H&M. It was nice to have some interest in our otherwise very white apartment and I liked my pillow covers so much that I took them home with me. I did ditch the inserts when I moved.

  • Artwork: We bought an adorable map of our neighborhood from Walk With Me. We had it displayed in our apartment and are looking forward to finding a home for it in our new apartment in the states.

Household Essentials That I Wished I Had Left Behind

Spices: I always feel like when I move to a new place and need more spices that they can be really expensive and add up quickly. I packed a large variety of spices to find out that spices in Spain are extremely inexpensive and I felt silly for packing them. I made sure to stock up on Safron when I left.

DIY hand painted "wallpaper" without a projector

DIY hand painted "wallpaper" without a projector

Dorm decor that can graduate with you

Dorm decor that can graduate with you