Danya Carithers is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2017, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A marketing major at the University of Pittsburgh, she is studying abroad in Florence this semester.
In her first post, Danya talks about the all important topic of packing to study abroad.
I’m leaving for Italy in four days and could not be more overwhelmed. I will be saying goodbye to my parents, friends, and the comfort of knowing where I am and what to expect. But despite that, it is important to remember that my worries are only temporary and that I am about to possibly experience the most exciting and beneficial experiences of my life! There will be countless opportunities to learn from different outlooks, customs, and experiences. But I begin to worry again… will I be able to successfully take advantage of these opportunities? I find that the best way for me to deal with my anxieties is to establish definite goals regarding how to prepare.
One of the most intimidating challenges I face while preparing for Italy is figuring out how to pack. Granted I am an out-of-state student and am slightly familiar with how to stuff my belongings into a suitcase under a weight limit. If I learned anything from the horror scenes of packing during finals week it was that I brought way too many things. In Pittsburgh, I had the luxury of generous friends with big basements, but in Italy there will not be much room for mistakes.
After doing research online about what to pack for studying abroad, a particular article stood out to me regarding minimalism. I have always been inspired by people who are able to live out of a small suitcase and be liberated from the weight of their own baggage (pun intended). Living minimally has always been something I read about and never practiced because it was simply not realistic. But, studying abroad actually presents the perfect opportunity (if not forces you) to practice minimalism.
Why should I practice minimalism anyways? Do the benefits dig deeper than just being economical? I know that some of you reading this probably think I sound like a wannabe hippie who’s read two lines of a Vice article and rashly decides that all material possessions are bad. But, minimalism is a tool that can assist me in finding freedom and ridding myself of anxieties.
Studying abroad is a time for me to travel and fully engross myself in Europe’s surrounding history and culture. From my research, I have learned that there is nothing inherently wrong with having a lot of possessions, but rather the excess meanings I attach to them. For me, having too many material items will be distracting. By having less belongings to worry about, it will become simpler to make conscious decisions in everyday life and therefore easier for me to fully take advantage of my study abroad experience.
So without further ado, here is what is inside my suitcase and my first attempt at minimalism:
1 rain jacket
1 warm pull-over
6 long sleeve shirts (2 are for exercising)
5 short sleeve shirts (double as pajamas)
3 tank tops
3 going-out tops
3 running tights (I plan to exercise)
2 sweatpants (double as pajamas)
7 pairs of underwear and socks
Toiletries bag: Hairbrush, toothbrush, travel-size toothpaste, face wash, face moisturizer, sunscreen, jewelry
Slippers (stone floors are COLD)
Cross body purse
Shoes: (I recommend packing shoes in your carry-on because, depending on your airline, there are no weight restrictions)
2 pairs of boots (1 heeled and 1 sturdy)
1 pair of running shoes
1 pair of fancy shoes
Laptop backup drive
Phone external battery
A folder with important documents
Although I might be packing way more items than one might find minimal or even average, it reflects what I believe I need (without having to do an obnoxious amount of laundry). Minimalism is a steady process and something I hope to eventually improve on. Now that I am packed, I am incredibly excited and ready for my experience abroad!
P.S. I don’t think I will have room to pack my dog…
Danya's journey continues every Thursday so stay tuned!