I have been abroad four times in my life, twice while in high school – almost ten years ago! – and twice in the past two months. While packing for this fourth go-around, a study abroad to Scotland, I recalled the first time I traveled out of the country: I was headed to France to spend a week touring the southern part of the country and another week staying with a host family in Paris. At the time, seeing and touching the Eiffel Tower was my life’s biggest dream. I never felt apprehensive or nervous about the trip; rather, I was ecstatic to make all my fifteen-year-old dreams come true.

Flash-forward to now: I was pretty nervous about leaving! After that first trip to France, I returned again but for a band trip. Years later, this past April, actually, I had the opportunity to return to Europe a third time, specifically to Greece. During that trip, I also was able to tour Amsterdam and Rome. For all three of those trips, I had a roller suitcase, but for this trip, our professor encouraged us to use hiking backpacks; many of the roads are cobblestone, so this would reduce our risk of losing a wheel. I have never packed for two weeks out of a hiking backpack – would I even be able to carry it? – so hopefully this elucidates why I was nervous! Nevertheless, some of my worries were dramatically reduced because I had a comprehensive packing list from my recent trip to Greece. I knew I did not forget anything on that trip, so some of my anxieties waned.

In the end, I fit everything into my suitcase. Another moment of pride, too: For the first time in my life, I was fairly confident I had not overpacked. I could not afford to anyway because I knew I had to lug the pack around everywhere we went! With all that in mind, the morning of my trip, I hoisted my bags upon my shoulders, locked the door behind me, and set off to see what adventures awaited.

An apprehensive traveler the night before leaving for two weeks abroad in Scotland