Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Packing, Part 1

Three weeks till I leave the United States, and I’m already struggling with my number one problem: what to pack.
I’m an atrocious over-packer; even on short, three day family vacations, I was the scourge of comfort as I shoved my over-sized dufflebag into the back seat of the car, leaving little room for my brother and I on the long drive to our destination. My main worry is always that there may be some small chance that I’ll need a nice dress, or a raincoat, or a sweater…so I pack all of the above even when the likelihood of me needing the items in near zero. Both my freshman and sophomore years I brought piles of clothes with me to college, half of which I don’t think I ever even wore.
Now, I’m going to be in the United Kingdom for a little over three months, and can only bring what will fit into one suitcase and a carry on bag; the suitcase can weigh no more than 50 lbs (23 kilograms), and even the size of the carry on bag is restricted to basically the equivalent of a laptop bag. Thus, I can only bring what I’m really going to need, and this may be a problem for me.
My laptop is currently one of my top priorities, and that’s going in my carry on; there’s no way I’d risk losing the most expensive piece of my luggage, or having it damaged in transit. Even if the airline were to lose my luggage and offer me compensation, their policies clearly state that they don’t cover electronics. For the same reason, my digital camera will also need to be in my carry on; there’s no way I’d ever want to travel without it. At the same time, I’m somehow going to need to fit a spare outfit in my bag, in case anything happens to my checked luggage. I’ve been debating over whether or not to bring a book for the flight, but the airline we’re taking appears to have an individual TV screen on the back of every seat; it also doesn’t seem likely that any book I’d be interested in bringing would be luggage-space friendly.
That still leaves me with up to fifty pounds of checked luggage, and I have a feeling that I’ll be using nearly all of it. This is probably mostly going to be clothes and necessities that I can’t risk not being able to find immediately in London; for example, contact lens solution, which I hear is really expensive in the UK for some reason. A few pairs of jeans, a skirt, and one nice dress should get me by, as well as just two pairs of shoes. It’ll be difficult not packing all of the shoes and t-shirts that I’m accustomed to being able to choose between, but it’s not like I even wear most of them that often; I normally stick with my two most comfortable pairs of shoes, and wear a dozen or so of my favorite shirts constantly.
Many supplies, however, I’ll need to buy in London. For example, my university housing includes a shared kitchen, but it appears that we need to stock it ourselves with utensils and cooking equipment. I don’t see myself needing to pack cooking utensils, and other important items like towels, into my luggage when I’m sure I could buy them at reasonable prices in London. At the same time, there’s no way that I’ll be able to fit a comforter or pillows into my luggage, so I’ll have no choice but to buy them once there. Fortunately, a fellow Ifsa-Butler student will be one of my flat-mates, and we’ve been emailing each other about what we think we’ll need in London. One good idea we’ve had is sharing cookware; it’s not like all seven of us in the flat (aka apartment) will need seven separate sauce pans. Instead, we’ll probably be best off going shopping together, and sharing what we need. That way, we’ll be able to maximize needed supplies while minimizing cost.
—Lauren—

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