Packing for Vienna: Defying Physics With a Suitcase

Julia Nugent
January 9, 2019

I will be en route to Vienna, Austria in five days. Five days that will pass me by quicker than I expect. So, I decided to start packing immediately. Or at least, think about what I will pack.

When I stare into my large suitcase, I find it hard to picture how three months will fit. I consider taking another small suitcase as a carry on, but when I picture myself dragging two suitcases over cobblestone, my stomach churns. Which leaves me with one suitcase and too much planning that I care for.


My roommate last year was a German student studying for the year at my university. I’ll never forget how she proudly told me that she had brought only one pair of jeans. She was staying at my university for an entire year with only one pair of jeans? I was beyond boggled. Yet, now I could understand. Sure, I was only staying for three months but those three months meant three seasons. Plus, I live in jeans. I’ll take two.

Shirts were another factor to consider. If I take eight shirts, I could go one entire week before needing to do the laundry. Or two weeks if I don’t get too sweaty. But I’m more likely to need warm clothes for the weather. Why are sweaters so bulky? I’ll take two sweaters and five long sleeve shirts and I should be okay. Right?

Which leads me to the dresses. I’ll bring my two favorite short sleeved dresses, one long sleeved dress, and my formal dress for the balls. Who knew balls were actually a thing in Vienna? There is no double entendre there, I swear. So, now I’m bringing my old prom dress to Austria. I bet my dress never thought it would go so far.


And now onto the shoes. You might be asking yourself, aren’t shoes merely a subcategory of clothing? To which I would say “no.” Shoes are their whole separate category entirely. I’ll definitely bring my casual black knock-off vans that I got from ASOS for fifteen bucks. Of course, I will need my black boots, which work for both casual appearances and semi-casual. My black heels, that I know I will wear once and for a few hours only. My black flats too, just in case I need to wear something nice but not too nice. My green and white polka dot shoes just in case I get tired of all the black shoes. I could bring shower shoes, but I’ll pick up a cheap pair of flip flops when I am there. And now to decide whether I bring my gym shoes and let them gather dust in Vienna or keep them home and let them gather dust there. Who knows, maybe I will go jogging. People often say that studying abroad changed them. Then when they ask me if I feel different I will be able to say, "Yes, I jog now." They only take up one eighteenth of my suitcase anyway.

Everything Else

And now that just leaves me with everything else. A towel, a set of sheets, makeup, soaps, school things, chargers, and oh so much more. Things that I don’t know if should bring or purchase. But I will make that decision based off available space and that alone.

That leaves me with the emotional tokens. The tchotchkes and baubles I can’t imagine leaving behind but also cannot see myself bringing. I just got a new mug from my friend and roommate, that has to come with me. As does the little penguin ornament. My collection of polaroid photos and the camera. My ceramic pomegranate. My little glass globe. I’d bring my succulent, Terry the terrarium, too but I doubt the border agents would like that.


Suddenly staring at the suitcase I realize there is simply not enough space. I had quickly forgone numbers. Instead, I simply tossed in my favorites. There is a chance I will arrive in Vienna with twenty tee shirts and two long sleeved shirts.

I decide to leave a gap in my suitcase. I worry that it means that I am forgetting something, something possibly very important and irreplaceable. But I tell myself to leave that gap. The gap will be for souvenirs, some to prove that I really went to Vienna and some to prove that I had really lived in Vienna. In just three months’ time, I will have to repack the suitcase and I will ask myself how I ever did it the first time.

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Julia Nugent

<p>I am currently a student at the University of Vermont, where I am pursuing an English degree. I have two older sisters. I I love reading, swimming, and coffee.</p>

2019 Spring
Home University:
University of Vermont
South Burlington, VT
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