How I Prepare Before I Pack

Sammi Bilitz
January 9, 2022
reading Normal People

My flight leaves in less than 36 hours, and I am unpacked but not fully unprepared.

I have clothes in various piles on my bedroom floor, in my laundry room, and stuffed in my car. I bought those handy-dandy baggage organizers at Target and they remain in their packaging. I have lists upon list, all in various stages of completion, written on yellow legal paper and tucked away in my planner, coat pockets, and purse.

But just because my physical preparations are a little bit behind, doesn’t mean that I am fumbling blindly all the way to Dublin. I am one of those people who needs to be mentally prepared for an adventure more than anything. I guess part of me knows that if I forget to pack socks, I’ll always be able to pick some up onsite. However, if I just am dumped in a new place without a modicum of research, I’ll feel like I’m missing out on half of the story or experience I could be having.

There are many ways over the last few weeks I have been getting myself psyched up for my Irish adventure:

What I’ve been watching

One of my all-time favorite rom coms is Leap Year. Though Matthew Goode’s Irish accent is laughable on good days, the film offers some truly stunning looks into the Irish countryside as Amy Adams makes her way to Dublin. There are great clips of rolling green hills, Irish wedding dancing, and mischievous cows, and it’s hard not to get swept up in both the narrative and ambience on Adams’ never-ending journey.

More productively, I’ve been making my way through the IES Abroad introduction video playlists and looking up footage of the Irish sport hurling. I love hearing about previous study abroad students’ experience and they offer great inspiration for any of my future correspondent posts or article topics. The footage of hurling is for educational purposes as I have never been one to understand the sports, but I am determined to at least go (and fully enjoy and understand) one match.

What I’ve been reading

I have about a hundred pinned articles that say, “Ireland Must Sees” or “10 Things Everyone Should do when they visit Ireland.” I’m an avid Pintrest user, and the best thing about its algorithm is that as soon as I pin one article about Ireland, my feed is swamped with advice that I can spend hours reading.  

As far as books go, the most recent read in a book club I am in was The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan. The book follows different characters in an Irish town as they go about their lives after a crisis. Though not one of my favorite novels, the diction is authentically Irish and helped me start to understand some of the common slang and phrases I will hear in Dublin.

Continuing with books, I have one book called 101 Things You Didn’t Know About Irish History that I peruse whenever I feel like absorbing any extra tidbits of information about my host country. Like many of my romantic peers, I’m sure, I bought Salley Rooney’s Normal People to read on the plane. Though I am not starting it until I take off on my adventure, it makes me feel better and more prepared to have a plan for starting my Irish literary journey.  

What I’ve been listening to

My mother and I took a trip to Ireland a few years ago. While there, we saw the Merry Ploughboys perform some classic Irish tunes, and I’ve taken to relistening to all of them since I was accepted into IES Abroad Dublin. Some of my favorites include the “Rocky Road to Dublin” and “Grace” (a real tearjerker).

Finally, I am a big playlist maker. I’ve made a playlist of songs that generally feel like the start of an adventure or as if they could be the soundtrack to some coming-of-age film about traveling 20 somethings mixed with some songs that remind me of Ireland. Among those songs are Cosmo Sheldrake’s Come Along, and basically anything by the Lumineers, as well as some Cranberries and Hozier anthems.  

The mental prep is more than half the battle for me, and with these few tricks, I feel so much better about taking off soon. Now to stuff my suitcase and decide which shoes to bring!


Sammi Bilitz

<p>Sammi Bilitz is a junior at Indiana University enrolled in the Writer's Program in Dublin, Ireland. She is studying journalism and international studies and is so excited to explore what Ireland has to offer. In her free time, you can find her huddled up in some bookstore with a steaming cup of tea in hand.</p>

2022 Spring
Home University:
Indiana University
Zionsville, IN
International Studies
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