Wait, so I can’t just wear jeans and an old sweatshirt?!

Madeira Thayer
January 2, 2020
A photo from the last time I was in Spain

Even though I’ve been planning to go abroad since high school, I am surprised at how soon I will actually be there. Fall semester was my busiest yet, with living in an off-campus house for the first time and working five different jobs over the course of the semester. Now that I turned in my last essay and finally have some time to breathe, it’s hard to believe I’ll be on the other side of the world in just two weeks. I feel like all I talk about at the holiday parties I’ve attended is my upcoming trip to Spain, and it’s constantly on my mind. I’ve already emailed my homestay mom (a retired teacher who likes museums and music–-how perfect is that?!) and submitted all required forms, but I still feel the need to plan and prepare somehow. Maybe that’s why I’m focusing more than I thought I would on the clothes I’m packing. I know having the right outfit makes me feel that much more comfortable in new situations, and I’ll take all the added comfort I can get.

European fashion definitely does intimidate me. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, known for its relaxed fashion. It was normal to show up to high school in anything from sweatpants and a crop top to heeled boots and a nice dress. Not everyone exercised the range of socially acceptable clothing, but the lack of strict fashion rules was comforting at the least. Coming from that background makes me slightly uneasy about the rules the Spanish follow. I’ve been advised to stay away from very casual clothing (like certain t-shirts and sweatshirts), err on the side of conservative clothing, and try to bring outfits that are up to date and trendy. I’m excited for the different standards to challenge my sense of style and encourage me to present myself as best I can, but I want to set myself up for success with the way I pack.

I had previously thought living out of one suitcase the entire semester would be an obstacle to dressing well, but I’ve found the opposite is true. Because I can’t bring most of the clothes I own, I’m going to end up packing all my favorite items. I may be wearing the same clothes very frequently, but everyone else in my program will be too, and the outfits I wear will only be the ones that make me feel confident and comfortable. When laundry gets low at Tufts, I start to wear things I don’t feel great in, but that won’t be an option in Spain.

The packing constraint has also led me to stick with basics and fun accessories. I won’t have room to pack my fun flowy yellow dress I only wear twice a year, but I can dress up my favorite jeans and black tank top with bold earrings or maybe a bright belt. Packing versatile options will allow me to dress for any occasion and adjust my style once I get there without buying new items that fill my suitcase and drain my bank account. I can’t pack yet, since most of my clothes are still at Tufts while I’m home in Oakland, but I’m confident fashion will not be an obstacle to feeling the best I can in Madrid.



PS: The cover photo for this post is of me and my brother four years ago the last time I was in Spain. I remember wearing sweatpants to class once on that trip and getting so many weird looks. Not this time!

Madeira Thayer

<p>I'm a junior at Tufts University majoring in Economics and minoring in Spanish, Latin, and Education. My favorite extracurricular activity is my job at a nonprofit called Let's Get Ready that offers low-income students free SAT tutoring and college counseling. I also love to get outside for a run, hike, or outdoor yoga! I'm excited for all the academic, linguistic, cultural, and natural experiences abroad will bring me!</p>

2020 Spring
Home University:
Tufts University
Oakland, CA
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