Tuesday, June 30, 2009

This is it. Tomorrow I leave for a year. I'm excited and nervous and all the emotions that come with starting a journey--but what I mostly am is annoyed.

You know those glamorous women you see in the airport with just a carry-on rolling bag and a purse? They look put together, calm, and ready for their upcoming flight. Well I will never be one of those girls for two reasons. 

The first is my complete inability to leave anything at home. I mean what if this one occasion arises and this one shirt would be perfect for it? I can't possibly leave it at home. I am an overpacker, I have been for as long as I can remember, and I doubt it will ever change. The next reason would be the stupid weight requirements for luggage. How can I fit a year's worth of clothes in two fifty pound bags? (and now they are starting to charge you for the second bag!) Clearly the people working at Delta do not have daughters who travel. (And before anyone chastises me for bringing so much, just think of all the clothes you wear in a year!) So since I cannot possibly fit all my clothes into 100 pounds of luggage I usually have to take the dreaded Vera Bradley. This Vera Bradley duffel bag (http://www.verabradley.com/Site/Store/ProductDetail.aspx?dept=7&sku=341%3a30
looks great. It is cute and looks like a good idea, but as my friend M. & I learned when we studied abroad that these bags suck. They earned a name that's too crude to write (hey my parents might be reading this) because they are essentially a bottomless pit. The more clothes you stuff into the bag the more it holds and then when you try to pick it up suddenly you have a 40 pound carry-on. This cumbersome bag makes walking through airport a workout and you arrive at your gate sweating with a shoulder ache. 

So now I'm faced with the dilemma: Take less (and be underprepared!) to avoid the Vera Bradley duffel, or take everything and arrive in Z├╝rich with the obnoxious pink bag and sweat stains? When I was studying abroad my friend M. & I were coming home from London, and in an effort to save money we used two different airlines for our flights. The airline coming home however, had a strict one bag per person policy. Since we had two our backpacks and purses we had to rearrange our stuff to comply with the rule. This situation ended with us wearing layers of our clothes onto the plane in order to fit our purses into our backpacks. Let's hope I don't have to do that again...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

One Week Left

I can't believe I leave in a week. 

I [finally] have my visa and am starting to pack (typically I take out all of the clothes from my closet, dump them on the floor, and then try to stuff as many as them into a suitcase until it barely zips). This time I'm trying to use Space Bags so now that I've thrown all my clothes on the floor I am now stuffing them into bags which I will later suck the excess air and and then try to stuff into my suitcases. I don't know if they are even going to make that much more space, all they seem to do is wrinkle my clothes so far.

I have been thinking about this move for so long but now that I'm into the final days in America I'm definitely getting nervous. Of course I am excited to be back in Europe in a new city (not to mention avoiding a "real job" for another year) but I cannot imagine a year without my friends from school and home. I know its easy to stay in contact these days but it will be a little harder with a 6-9 hour time difference.

Back to packing... 

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Beginning

I guess I should start at the beginning. 

It was late December 2008 and I was pretty much set on joining the Peace Corps and living in Sub-Saharan Africa for the next two years.  I was flipping through my mom's September 2008 issue of Gourmet magazine (now I'm not much of a cook, but ever since my friend Molly & I read Ruth Reichl's book Tender to the Bone, we became a fan of her and I of Gourmet magazine) and it was all about Paris. I came across this article written by Holly Brubach, how she just moved from America to Paris and lived in an apartment there. I could hardly contain my jealousy, but since I do not have the sort of funds to just move to Paris I put my hope of living in Europe on the back burner.

Then during early March we were leaving the bar (I went to a small liberal arts college in which there is only one bar in the tiny Ohio town) and I overheard a girl talking about how she was going to be an au pair. I was definitely taken with the idea (as was my mother who didn't quite relish the idea of her daughter living in Africa) and after a quick Google search (I'm not sure what the world would do without Google) I found this website, Greataupair.com, where nannies and families could find one another. A few weeks later my Peace Corps plans were on hold and I was going to Switzerland to be an au pair.