A Travellerspoint blog

As I struggle not to pack the kitchen sink...

Current Anxiety Rating: 5

We have now come to … *drumrollplease* … the packing portion of the travel prep. (*Insert jazz hands here*)

In the interest of preparedness, I researched packing so extensively and for so long I think my friends were thisclose to holding an intervention. This causes some interesting phenomena. For instance: More sentences than I would care to admit start with, "You know what else I read?! I have to bring…" I have also been manically packing away different odds and ends away for months as I have found them (A head lamp here, a book there) just to get things started. And evidently it has now spread to blogging, so we have come full circle.

I thought I would offer up a list of what I am bringing with me prior my four month trip, and later when return, I will update the blog with a list of things that were necessary, a list of things I didn't know I needed, and a list of things I really didn't need to lug around Europe.

Alrighty then! Lest I dilly dally any longer, I present to you my Packing List:

*Note: Bear in mind I will be abroad from late August to Mid-December, so there are a lot of bases to cover with regard to clothing; also I am a compulsive over packer.

Clothing:
- 4 dresses (3 sun dresses; 1 formal-er dress)* (one worn on)
- 3 cardigans of various colors (Blue, black, white) *(one worn on)
- 4 pairs of shorts
- 3 pairs of jeans
- 2 long skirts* (one rolled up in the bottom of my carry-on)
- 1 medium length skirt
- 1 set of pjs
- 12 shirts (mix of tank tops and short sleeves)
- 1 pair of work out shorts
- 1 pair of flip flops
- 1 pair of comfortable walking sandals *
- 1 pair of flats
- 1 pair of converse*
- 1 pair of running shoes
- Underwear and socks
- 2 belts
- 1 pashmina-size scarf*
- 1 swim suit

Electronics:
- Laptop*
- External Hard drive*
- 2 small flash drives*
- Chargers galore!*
- Camera*
- iPod*
- Head phones*
- 2 Adapters* (one in carry-on)
- 1 Surge protector

Health and Cleanliness:
- Make-up
- Lens Cleaner
- Old glasses*
- Contacts*
- Toothbrush
- Deodorant*
- 1 Bottle of sunscreen
- Small bottles of shampoo/ conditioner/ toothpaste*
- Razor
- Prescription Medications*
- Small first aid kit

Odds And Ends:
- 2 soft cover books
- Neck pillow
- Journal and pen*
- Purse
- Small theft proof daypack (Carry-On Bag)*
- Money Belt
- Gift for host mom
- Eye mask*
- Eye plugs*
- Quick dry towel
- Empty water bottle*
- 1 tiny collapsable bag
- 1 big Ziplock

Money and Documentation: (aka Stuff to Not Lose!)
- Some Euros*
- Debit Card*
- Photo copies of travel documents (passport, visa, etc.)*
- Actual travel documents*
- Insurance info*

*The starred items were either worn on or carried on in my purse or backpack

Now this may seem like a lot of stuff, but anxiety tends to bring out my inner girl scout. Four months away from home feels like quite a long time when it is stretched out before me so immediately. And when it comes down to it, I just feel more comfortable knowing that I will have my normal cold medicine in the event I get sick abroad. I feel better knowing that I have plenty of ways to entertain myself on the plane and bus rides because it keeps me distracted from any nagging claustrophobia. I still have about two days before I leave so I will go through and make some cuts to this list, but as of now, all of these things fit between one checked bag (50lbs or under), my purse, and my carry-on, which is a backpack, with even a little extra room to spare, so I not too concerned.

I leave for Spain this Wednesday so keep your eyes peeled for a post about my plane ride!

Afectuosamente,

Alison

  • Again, thanks goes out to the Helen Barr Rudin Grant for making this blog and my adventures abroad possible*

Posted by TrixiStella 08:02 Archived in USA Tagged packing Comments (0)

Deny. Deny. Deny.

Anxiety Level (out of 10) : 4

Hello there,

Time for another lovely, pre-departure update:

It seems that I am now less than two weeks away from my departure date, and oddly, it couldn't feel farther away. I am still situated up at Lawrence, doing on-campus research (studying 17th century theater!), which I think definitely has something to do with it. With all my belongings still comfortably situated in my dorm room (nary a box in sight yet), my travel bag squirreled away under my bed (outta sight, outta mind), and the lovely people I will miss so much surrounding me, it is hard to fully wrap my head around the idea that I will be leaving the country in less than two weeks. It just seems so disconnected from where I am and what I am doing.

But, sometimes as I am laying idly in bed, my imminent departure manages to creep into my head all sneaky-like, despite my best attempts to (in the words of today's blog title) "deny, deny, deny." I still can't tell if I am doing myself a disservice by not thinking about it. Don't get me wrong; I have googled packing lists, travel abroad trip tips (say that ten times fast), international cellphones, bankcards, and all the rest ad nauseam, but for me, making lists, making plans, is completely different from trying to actively picture myself saying goodbye to the boyfriend, the family, and (what feels like) my peace of mind for four months, a practical eternity for the intensely anxiety-prone, control freak inside of me. When I try, my stomach sinks so low that for a second I feel like I may have misplaced it all together, and all the "what-if's" rush eagerly to the surface.

It's as if I am researching some dangerous stunt like solo skydiving, and every now and then I realize that, oh wait, I am actually the one who has to jump out of the plane. For the first time. All my myself. And the instructor will be yelling instructions in another language...Now, I am not saying that studying abroad is particularly dangerous, especially if you are sensible and are traveling to a safe area, but there is an enormous amount of variables to keep track of when one travels. (New languages. Plane departures and arrivals. Hotel bookings. Pick pockets. A new schedule. Unfamiliar people and places. You get the idea) And for someone like me, variables can often feel like the enemy because they increase the "what-if" factor (technical term), which in turn increases anxiety because I don't know what to expect.

With something like travel abroad, the "what-if's" and worst case scenarios become practically infinite. Am I pretty sure that I won't be stolen and sold into sex trafficking thereby forcing friends and family to pull a Liam Neeson and kill everyone in their path until they rescue me? Yes, I am pretty sure that neither of those things will happen (knock on wood). But am I positive that I won't have an awful panic attack on the plane or experience severe anxiety once I get there, rendering the rest of my stay very unpleasant? No, I am not positive that those things won't happen. So for now rather than allowing myself to dwell on all the worst case scenarios, I shall continue my googling and denying until I have to face the music! Wish me luck!

Afectuosamente,

Alison

  • *Again, thanks goes out to the Helen Barr Rudin Grant for making this blog and my adventures abroad possible**

Posted by TrixiStella 06:44 Archived in USA Tagged update Comments (0)

T-minus 19 Days! Get Excited! OR Terrified!**

**Traveler's choice (¿Por qué no ambos?)……….Current Anxiety Rating (out of 10): 3

Welcome to the chaos, friends, family, and curious onlookers!

I suppose with the threat of departure almost upon me, I should bite the bullet and take some time to start this blog while I still have some shreds of sanity left before the pre-travel brain-blitz.

For those of you who don't know, I am currently in the midst of feverishly preparing for my trip to Spain. I will be participating in a four month long study abroad program in Granada (located in the southern part of Spain), which will include a month of intensive-language classes from September to October followed by a semester of classes from October to December. The program also includes six excursions to different Spanish cities during our stay (Locations: Córdoba, Las Alpujarras, Madrid, Ronda, Sevilla, and Toledo). After four years of high school Spanish classes and two years of college classes Spanish, I am excited to get of the US (for the first time! Eeek!) and see Europe but…

Well, let me just back up for a second.

Last year, I applied for, and was lucky enough to receive, the Helen Barr Rudin Grant to study abroad in Spain. When applying for the grant, all applicants were asked to submit a proposal, describing how they would bring back their experience and enrich the Lawrence community if they received the grant. While it isn't all that flashy, my idea was this: A travel blog. But a blog beyond just the normal accounts of places visited and homesickness and packing lists (though I will probably talk about all that, don't you worry). I wanted to write about something else.

Most of you probably know this about me, if not now is a relevant time for me to share that I have anxiety. Anxiety as in heart-racing, nausea-inducing, palm-sweating, the walls-are-closing-in anxiety, and although I don't have as much trouble controlling it as I once did, I still felt alienated by those constant fears when I was looking at all the study abroad websites, blogs, and pamphlets. Although the writers warned of the nervousness before leaving and the homesickness upon arrival, they came nowhere close to describing the feeling of terror, or even dread, I sometimes feel when thinking about boarding the plane and being so far from everything I know.

And thus this blog was born.

I will talk about all the normal things that you would see on your typical study abroad blog, but I will also chronicle all my ups and down, what triggers me abroad, and how I deal with it. My intent is to document my travel experience while at the same time showing that although these experiences can be nerve-wracking, that nervousness is completely okay and surmountable.

….

Alrighty! I suppose that will suffice for an introduction today. And don't worry; the rest of the posts won't be so formal and serious! Just had to get the introductions out of the way. Check back for more updates in the upcoming weeks and thanks for reading!

Afectuosamente,

Alison

Posted by TrixiStella 12:08 Archived in USA Tagged welcome Comments (0)

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