Preparing for Paris: Camp, Clothing, and Covid, Oh My!

Julia Himmelberger
August 25, 2021

With just five days until my flight departs for Paris, I’ve been dashing around my house and around town getting ready for my semester abroad. This evening, I’m sitting at my computer, taking a break from the craziness of packing and last-minute errands to reflect on this transition from home to abroad.

Every summer since junior year of high school, I’ve been a counselor at a sleepaway camp for the entire summer. In high school, I’d always have a week or two after the end of camp to prepare for school—going shopping for school supplies, arranging my first day of school outfit, and prepping for sport tryouts. In college, the transitions got harder; I had fewer days to get ready and more preparations to do to pack for school a plane ride away. This year, I have just eight days in between camp and Paris, a lot more anxiety about the semester ahead, and many more details to prepare for. I’ve got my work cut out for me!

I know that once I’m in Paris with a daily routine, I’ll be fine. I’m used to being away from home for long periods of time and I love adventures. It’s just these transitions that are tricky for me. Newton’s law of inertia, “An object in motion stays in motion,” really resonates with me. When I’m in a groove, with some normalcy to my days or weeks, I’m cruising. It’s when another force interrupts this routine that I have a harder time. 

One thing that helps me is writing out to-do lists and schedules so that I can visualize what needs to get done and when. I write out lists of things I need to buy, things I need to search for in my house, and tasks I need to do to be ready for departure. Here’s a taste of what I’ve been up to these past few days:


The first thing I had to do was unpack my camp belongings (much of them going to the attic for next summer) and finish up any loose ends from the summer (writing back to campers, developing my disposable camera photos). It’s always a strange transition from camp to the “real world,” and this time was no different. I just had to do everything on a shorter timeline!


My wardrobe during the summer consists of camp t-shirts, Patagonia baggies, and friendship bracelets galore. On my feet I rotate between Chacos, Birkenstocks, and Crocs. Definitely not the chic style of Paris. I decided that I wanted to dress more like the locals so that a) I look like I belong and b) I don’t get pick-pocketed. I started researching fashion blogs and study abroad packing lists to see what I should bring to Paris. I decided that I needed to ditch my chacos and baggies for a new pair of jeans that I could pair with nicer tops. In my research, I came across many articles advising against wearing shorts in France because they’re considered provocative. I am curious to see if this holds true in Paris, so I will be keeping my eyes out for Parisians wearing shorts! Stay tuned for my findings.


Going into college, I had plans to study abroad during my junior year. I was accepted into programs and was ready to go abroad for the fall of 2020, but COVID had other plans! Going into this semester, it’s clear that the pandemic will still be a factor in my study abroad experience. Masks are required in my classes and around the city, vaccines/testing is required, and we’re unable to participate in homestays. Knowing all of this, I thought, “Hmm where is my CDC vaccination card?” What ensued was a frantic search through my entire house by all members of my family to no avail. I then contacted the state to receive an official proof of vaccination that I hope will suffice. Stay tuned for that as well! 

This week has been challenging as I’ve navigated what to pack and how to prepare, but I know that once in Paris I will be back in motion, staying in motion until I return. 

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Julia Himmelberger

<p>Hi! My name is Julia (she/her) and I'm from Wellesley, MA. I study French and Political Science at St. Olaf College. I love to read, play ultimate frisbee, and swim!</p>

2021 Fall
Home University:
St. Olaf College
Wellesley, MA
French Language
Political Science
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