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.