Full disclosure, I lied to you. There is nothing simple about packing your life in a suitcase and hoping what you have is enough for a year abroad. And that it’s no more than 23 kilos. It is intense, and it is extremely nerve-racking. What should I leave behind? What deserves to take up the limited space I have in my luggage? Surely, you can buy many items in your new country, provided it is a country of a similar economic development and culture. Nevertheless, if you are worried about your lacking finances, you too would rather bring your own stuff, than have to spend money. I am not really talking about clothes, or make-up – most people bring their own. But what about towels? Sheets, winter shoes, hairdryer, blanket, a night lamp, a mattress? Okay, I might have taken it too far with the last two. Also blankets can be bought, right? That would otherwise take up a crazy amount of space in my bag.
Let’s see how far I’ve gotten with my luggage. Fair warning: upon reading, if you happen to feel a strong sense of panic rushing through your body, don’t worry, this is most likely me transferring my panic onto you. I apologize. My flight is tomorrow morning, and my bags are still far from ready. Okay? You may relax now. Panic is not healthy anyway.
Second warning: upon examination, the beginning of this “guideline” feels more like an internal dialogue between my stressed and relaxed selves. Read it as such. Don’t judge, and prosper, or whatever. Still, I hope at least some bits are helpful.
Step 1: Relax! (that’s an order, I think) Ultimately, everything will work out. How many times have you managed to pack your suitcase the day before the trip? Every single time. Exactly. Has this strategy ever failed? No. Then why worry? Relax.
Step 2: *4 days before the trip* Short glimpses of panic. Overall: mood still set on ‘taking it easy’. House hunting is a bigger priority after all. Packing can wait.
Step 3: *2 days before the trip* Time for inspiration & list creation. Begin with watching a bunch of youtube videos and tutorials on packing for long trips. Side note: The word ‘trip’ helps me feel calm. To me it implies that the time spent abroad will be short, fun, and cause no troubles at all. Yay!
Step 4: *1 day left* Start packing and while doing so, make an inventory of your luggage. For example: mp3 player + charger -> small pocket of the inside pocket of backpack. Sounds confusing but I get it because I know my backpack very well. We go way back.^^
Step 5: If you run out of place follow this simple rule: Unpack + repack = key to creative space creation. And repeat until everything fits. If your bag isn’t infinite then at some point you’ll get the message. However, for a few extra t-shirts, or the odd pair of socks, this rule is pretty solid. Experience suggests that the more you repack and the more you stare at your bag and wonder at its depressingly finite spaces, the more creative you’ll get when it comes to circumventing the laws of physics.
Leaving home for a whole academic year is hard. Right now I envy all those Erasmus students who will only spend one semester abroad. I will be there for two. I can only hope that I’ll meet wonderful people, take in the beauty of Ireland’s scenic locations, read inspiring books, and, most of all, I hope I’ll have enough distractions so that I don’t get sucked into a dark hole of nostalgia.
Did you make your own short guide to panicing, I mean packing? Share it with me :)