Waterford letter: Preparing for Study Abroad means making a list and repacking four times

Study Abroad is about gaining knowledge, seeing the world, jotting down some observations and eating Swiss rolls on the go. (photo by Erin Johnson)

By Erin Johnson |

Going on a Study Abroad trip can bring out so many emotions in a college student. You would think that it would be an easy process, that it’s like going on any other trip, but it is not. Study Abroad is a trip of a lifetime, and it starts the moment you decide what trip you’re going to go on and you fully commit to going. There is no turning back once you make that final payment.

For my Study Abroad adventure, I decided to spend five weeks in Waterford, Ireland. It will be my last semester in school, so you can say it’s my graduation gift to myself. Remember the emotions that I talked about? Well, I have them all. I am excited, nervous and anxious; you know all those weird feelings that you get when you are about to take an exam that you studied for, but you look at the first question and it’s something you don’t remember studying for? I have that feeling too.

In the months leading up to my departure, I was excited. I was planning and writing down everything that I could think of that I needed to do. Call my bank, get extra medication, buy travel-size products, pack, make sure I have enough socks. Oh, don’t forget to buy a raincoat, and let’s not forget the most important of them all: Make sure that my music playlist was updated.

I was looking at Pinterest and Google for things to do, how to pack a suitcase and carry-on, what can I take and cannot take. I was talking to professors and friends. I was driving my mom wild with questions. I was saving money. You name it, and I was doing it. I wanted to make sure I was prepared.

Days leading up to my departure, I started to go down the lists that I had made weeks before and posted on my fridge and the ones that I had hidden in my purse. I started to gather everything I had bought for my trip and purchase the things that I needed.

Now let the fun begin. I started packing my suitcase. However, in the mist of packing my suitcase, I am also packing my room because my family is moving into a house when I return home.

There are boxes and clothes everywhere. Do I need to pack every pair of socks that I own, or can I leave two pair at home? I put together outfits that I think I might want to wear and a possible fourth option just in case I change my mind because I’m a girl and I never know what I want to wear. I have Ziploc bags of everything I need and extras just in case of accidents.

After packing my suitcase twice in one day a week before I leave, I give myself a break because I can’t think straight, and I can’t zip shut my suitcase, which could only mean two things: I don’t know how to pack properly, and I have too much stuff.

A few days before I leave, I decide to give it one final crack at packing. With my dog Jett by my side and my cellphone on YouTube for videos on “How to pack a suitcase” in 30 minutes, I had packed my suitcase two more times and I was finally happy with everything I had pack. Everything from the 20 pairs of socks to a pillow all the way down to the box of Swiss Rolls my mom brought for me.

So, after packing my suitcase a total of four times, I can finally say I am ready to take on Waterford, Ireland.


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