The Joy of Packing

Amanda Micek
January 16, 2019

You’ve decided to study abroad. You are going to have an absolutely amazing time and, as you’ve probably heard, this experience will be life changing. However, there is a lot to get done before this wonderful time can begin.

As the dates fly past, the day of your departure will be right around the corner. By this point, you have undoubtedly done the loads of paperwork mandated by IES Abroad and your home school because those to-dos came with a set deadline. However, packing does not. For packing your life into a suitcase I highly recommend you start this process about a week before you are set to leave. Packing can be done in 24 hours, but save yourself the stress. Plus, getting organized can make you even more excited for the adventure you have been working towards for several months.

Before even looking for your suitcase, hype yourself up! I watched Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix and watched an embarrassing amount of packing/minimalist videos on YouTube. While this may sound boring, it made me so excited to dig through my closet and evaluate what was truly necessary for fourth months abroad.

Once you are sufficiently enthusiastic, do your research!  What will the weather be like? How do the locals dress? Is there a difference between daytime and night time/going out wear? I am not asking you to completely renounce your culture, but remember typical american clothes (athleisure, sports shirts, socks and sandals) will make you stick out to pickpockets. Additionally, some places, such as most of the churches in Italy, have dress codes so make sure you have garments to cover those knees and hide those shoulders.

You only need one suitcase and one small carry on bag. I promise. Remember that European houses or apartments tend to be smaller than houses found in the American suburbs. You also don’t want to be lugging three or more bags around when you’re about to miss a train or plane. To fit everything into your suitcase, stick to the basics. I recommend making capsule wardrobes. (Yes, I really went down the rabbit hole that is the minimalist side of YouTube). To do so, try to make several different outfits with just a few pieces of clothing. If you have an item that only goes with a certain pair of pants, shoes, etc. don’t pack it.

To fit everything into your bag, fold the Marie Kondo way! She is an internet phenomenon for a reason. If for some strange reason you are not compelled to watch this amazing show, just google ‘marie kondo folding’ to get some diagrams. After folding my clothes in this way I am able to see everything that is in my suitcase so I know exactly what I have and, in the days before I leave, I can continuously evaluate my packing to make sure I have everything I need and nothing unnecessary.

If you have not saved packing for the last minute, try living out of your suitcase for a couple of days. If you find yourself reaching for something not there, pack it. However, follow the one in,  one out rule, and try to swap out the item with something else. Also remember to place items you absolutely cannot live without (medication, toothbrush, extra undergarments) into your carry on in case your luggage gets lost.

In the end, packing is not a big deal. You can always buy something you forgot. When you get to your destination what matters is not what you bring, but the experiences you make. Do some research, pack what makes you happy, and follow some photographers from your destination on Instagram to get you excited. Your trip will arrive before you know it.


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Amanda Micek

<p>I am 19 years old and am a sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin. I am working towards an anthropology degree because I am fascinated in all the different cultures, religions, and languages around the world. My hobbies include sewing, reading, hiking, camping, and traveling. Every summer I go backpacking with my family. Our most recent trip was to Rocky Mountain National Park. I am very excited to study abroad in Siena, Italy so I can practice my Italian and become immersed in a new culture.</p>

2019 Spring
Home University:
University of Texas - Austin
San Antonio, TX
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