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Adventures Abroad: Lessons in Packing

by Lauren

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When I found out I was accepted into the AIFS program to Limerick, Ireland, I was beyond excited. When I found out how many bags I could bring with me, I was less than stoked. In fact, I was a little terrified. British Airways allows for one checked bag under 50lbs. How does one fit almost four months of living materials into one bag? Do you think one semester of your life is 50lbs or less?

Impossible. Have you seen my closet? You must understand, that as an Apparel Merchandising and Journalism double-major, I have amassed quite the wardrobe and I value each and every garment. I need to have them with me in Ireland. I mean when you think about it, I don’t know a soul in Ireland; however, I have had many eventful nights in my Calvin Klein strappy sandals. The sandals will keep me company! I need them… even though they aren’t practical in such a damp and cool climate.

Thankfully I came to my senses and somehow settled on only eight pairs of practical and versatile shoes. Eight pairs is a mere fraction of my shoe collection. In the end, I got away with packing only about 1/10 of my permanent wardrobe. How did she do it, one may ask? Sorcery? Not quite.

It started with the simple exercise of planning outfits. I plucked some of my favorite, basic, and flexible dresses, shirts, and pants. Then I started mixing and matching to create a variety of outfit combinations. I was quite surprised by my creativity in this exercise. I began pairing garments that I never thought would go together! Eventually, I found that I had styled 100 ensembles! That’s over 3 months of outfit choices fitting into one bag.

I began to become excited about where I would wear the outfits and who I’d meet while out and about. It evolved into a sort of game. (Example: This outfit will be perfect for going to class where I’ll meet students from all over the world! OR this outfit is comfortable, so I’ll wear it while travelling where I’ll bond with a random stranger on the plane!) Suddenly, I didn’t need those Calvin Klein strappy sandals.

I was able to stretch a limited amount of garments into a semester long wardrobe and I learned a lesson in living light. In the end, I realized that the best things in life are experiences and relationships. The material items I bring along aren’t so important. Ten years from now, I hope I’m not looking back at my times in Limerick thinking about my limited, but still stylish, wardrobe; I hope to be thinking about the things I learned from the experience and the individuals I met along the way.

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