Like most everyone else in the world, I’m an overpacker. I’ve gotten slightly better at packing “just the right amount” (as if there is a mystical, Goldilocks-style stuffed suitcase) since going to college, but nonetheless, I found myself with quite a little more than necessary in Berlin.
So, the night before your flight, as you sit around staring at all your clothes and trying to bring yourself to start packing, here is what you should leave behind:
- More than one pair of shorts. Having shorts was nice the four times it was warm enough to wear them. Bringing more than one pair was just a frustrating reminder of how cold it really is.
- A rain jacket. Maybe this is just a personal preference, but to me an umbrella was infinitely more useful. Especially with how warm rain jackets can get indoors (and in crowded S-bahns!), its just much more pleasant to be able to toss an umbrella in your backpack and never worry about the rain ever again.
- More than one sweater. I'm shipping all my sweaters home because they're too hellish to pack. I have no idea why I thought I would need a red sweater and a green sweater.
- "Going out" clothes. As a short girl, I usually wear shoes with a serious platform. Heels in Berlin are pretty much a death trap though considering how slippery the cobblestones get. Also Berlin clubs are more likely to accept you in your PJs then in your mini skirt. I wore the heels maybe once; the mini skirt never. Ditch them both.
- School supplies. You can just buy them in Berlin.
- American money. This might be nice during my seven hour layover in Miami, but otherwise it's been just sitting in my wallet.
And here’s what to throw in, even if you don’t think you will need it:
- Face wash - weirdly enough, this was surprisingly hard to find in Berlin. Or at least it was hard to find anything similar to what I usually use.
- Photos of your friends. I usually print out all of my digital photos every semester before college, but for Berlin, I thought they would take up too much room. They probably would have, but you know, a friendly face on your wall never hurts. I usually use Shutterfly to print my photos—its really easy, pretty cheap, and the first time you use them, they give you a pretty great discount!
What I'm most glad to have packed:
- A Kindle! I know, how lame, I'm such a sell out, and I'm destroying the future of books in print, blah blah blah blah. Really, a Kindle is not the best thing to read on, and given the option, I will always chose a book that has actual pages. That being said, I have a bad habit of tearing through books and buying (and bringing) far many more books then I can fit in a suitcase. So the Kindle was really perfect, as I could buy ten books and still fit them all in my pocket. Which is the other reason the Kindle is really great: it can fit in your pocket, making it the perfect companion for midnight U-bahn rides.
- Books on tape! My great app idea (everyone has to have one, right?) is an app where you can put your favorite book on tape to a workout beat; just imagine Jim Dale reading Harry Potter to "212" by Azealia Banks while you run. Whatever, a girl can dream. Seriously though, on plane rides and train trips, books on tape can be execellent to close your eyes and snooze to.
- A notebook that fits in your purse or pocket or backpack or whatever else you keep with you always. If you want to shell out for this, Moleskin sells very small, very thin notebooks in packs of three. I've kept one with me this whole semester, and they are really great for taking notes in museums, writing down your thoughts, remembering quotes, really whatever. I plan on keeping up this habit in the States too. It's really cool to look back at.
- A winter coat. Maybe you are rolling your eyes right now. Of course you are going to pack a winter coat. Well, I wasn't going to--I thought I would buy a new one in Berlin, because the one I have for Baltimore isn't particularly warm. But Berlin gets cold sooner than I expected, so I'm glad in the end I brought my winter coat. Don't get me wrong, there were very cold days in Berlin, but my little coat could handle most of them.
- Shower sandals for hostels. Trust me, you want these.
Finally, some advice that I didn't take: bring clothes that you want to throw or give away. This way, when you are packing up at the end of the semester, you'll be able to toss a few shirts to make room for all the ornaments you bought for your grandmother.
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Ruth Marie Landry
<p>Ruth Marie Landry is a junior majoring in the Writing Seminars at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. On campus, she works in the library and as a tutor for high school students. She is also a DJ for WJHU (Johns Hopkins' only student radio station) and the co-founder and co-editor-in-chief of Vector Magazine, an online literary magazine. While growing up in New Orleans, she developed a love for spicy food, dancing to live music, and long, poorly planned road trips. Ruth enjoys big cities, Sphynx cats and Brutalist architecture.</p>