The Pains of Packing (Gearing up for Granada)

Soledad Tejada
January 22, 2019

Packing can be overwhelming to say the least. Overpacking leaves you worried you will never be able to carry your suitcases, and underpacking always leaves the lingering worry that you will forget something essential. Suddenly that sweater you haven’t worn in months transforms into a wardrobe necessity or none of your numerous pairs of jeans look suitable. Should you pack books? What about an umbrella? Will you use paints? You know those snow boots are heavy—but what if there’s a blizzard? A simple activity that seems so straightforward—just put things in a bag!—can eat up much more time and energy than it seems like it should.

For this trip I did something I have never in my life done before—I started packing early. I read the packing advice from previous ambassadors on my program and looked at IES Abroad's blanket suggested list. Instead of stuffing everything I could see into my suitcase and hoping it would expand endlessly, I decided to approach the suitcase in front of me as a mental challenge. To my surprise I found this helped the process a lot. I made it a game. How many different outfits could I create from the same few items of clothing? How could I consolidate multiple items into one—say a waterproof coat instead of a raincoat AND a jacket? To my surprise, I found this slightly easing the pain of packing. In thinking through what I might do or wear in Granada, I began to imagine myself being there, and living life there as I do in New York. The stress of making the “right decision” transformed into excitement over all the things I would do when I arrived.

Of course I could only do so much meticulous folding and inevitably I ended up stuffing in a lot of things to my bags at the last moment. This video shows my initial neatness, leaving the true minor chaos that occurred in the minutes before I headed to the airport to myself. Yet, I’ve been realizing as it comes closer and closer to my departure (and I write this from my gate at JFK airport) that at some point you just have to take the plunge and actually go abroad. It may seem obvious, but this semester will not be made or broken by not bringing the exact right number of pairs of shoes. So future study abroaders my advice is don’t sweat it too much. Realize that your anxiety over how everything will fit in exactly right to your rolling suitcase may just be some predeparture jitters. You are much more important than what is in your backpack and the things that will best equip you for the journey ahead can’t be held in your hands—so grab that luggage, put on a brave face, and go!


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Soledad Tejada

Hi! I'm Soledad, a junior studying American Studies with a concentration on the culture and design of public space. I'm originally from Brooklyn, New York. In my free time I love singing, playing music with other people, cooking (and eating) new foods, and dancing.
2019 Spring
Home University:
Yale University
Brooklyn, NY
American Studies
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