Packing Lists

Clarissa Grunwald
January 30, 2016

I'm getting ready to leave for my study abroad. That means figuring out what kinds of things I'd like to bring with me, what kinds of things I'd like to bring with me but can't really fit inside a suitcase, what kinds of things I'd like to bring with me but don't want to have to explain to the TSA, etc. 

For example, here are my friends: 


Some of them, I'm pretty sure, would do their darndest to fit inside a carry-on. Especially if I said something like, "Hey, betcha can't fit inside a carry-on." But at the same time, none of them would be able to fit inside a carry-on, much less make it through the x-ray scanner thingy without attracting attention. And that's too bad, because my friends are the thing that I am most afraid to leave.

I’ll miss other things, too, I think. Classes. Professors. The music department. Heck, I’ll probably miss listening to my stupid upstairs neighbor blaring dance music, and watching people topple drunkenly into College Center at 1:00 in the morning. I’m sentimental about weird things, sometimes.

But my friends, well. Since coming to college, they’ve made me more outgoing, confident, and happy, than I’d imagined possible. And if study abroad is an experience that’s supposed to make me feel more fulfilled, or comfortable with myself, or whatever, then it’s just weird that it’ll happen without the people who have been doing that perfectly fine right here in America for the past two and a half years.

People—family members, acquaintances, random people in shops—keep asking me if I’m excited to go abroad.

I say yes because sometimes I prefer not to come off as an ungrateful, negative weirdo.

Of course I want to go abroad. I’ve wanted to visit Berlin for years. Some days, I even feel like I need to go abroad. Having never really journeyed away from the eastern side of the United States, much less visited another continent, I’ve occasionally worried that, if I failed to get abroad during college, I’d become a sort of regional shut-in, confined to my tiny sliver of Pennsylvania.

But am I excited?

That’s a more difficult question. I think I will be excited, eventually. But right now I’m too preoccupied with what I’m leaving behind.


And then, on the other hand, the stuff I’m bringing with:

Well, to start with, nothing’s packed yet.

My program doesn’t begin until March, so I have a lot of time. I have begun the preliminary steps of packing, which is to say I’ve fantasized about successfully stuffing all of my belongings into a suitcase and two carry-ons, and not having to pay any extra airfare. If this were to happen, it would be a miracle. Or more likely, it would mean that I forgot something important, like pants.

A couple of months ago, I received a post card from IES Abroad with a packing list reminding me to bring items such as “myself” and “a sense of adventure!” The list did not contain things like pants, which is concerning. I think IES Abroad has an unwarranted amount of faith in my ability to plan these things on my own.

I hope my sense of adventure comes with me, because if it doesn’t these will be some very boring and depressing blog posts. There’s so much I want to do in Germany, so many things I want to see, but I know I have a tendency to get distracted by things like “school” and “responsibilities,” and I’m worried I’ll fail to do all the other things associated with study abroad, such as “getting hilariously lost” and “making embarrassing social faux pas.”

(Granted, this is probably an unfounded concern, as I do both of those things easily enough in my native country.)

On the other hand, I know I’ll be coming with me. It seems unlikely I’d forget myself, although it was nice of IES Abroad to remind me, anyway.

I guess that makes me at least 50% ready. 


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Clarissa Grunwald

<p>Writer, composer, musician. American student with a terrible sense of direction set loose on Germany. After years of telling people that I love to travel, this is my first time actually leaving the country.</p>

2016 Spring
Home University:
Franklin & Marshall College
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