I’m sitting on my knees on the floor, staring at two enormous blue suitcases. I’m simply staring, frozen, at the two suitcases that will contain my life. My life in possessions that surely weigh more than me.
How am I supposed to pack up my entire life for a year into two suitcases? Did I mention there is a 50 pound weight limit per case?! One already has too much in it (read: stuffed with clothing), the other is starting to become full of essentials like vitamins, a year’s supply of deodorant and toothpaste, sheets, large (American-sized) towels, and my daily necessity that I heard is hard to come by: a little spice called Cinnamon (I even put this stuff on my eggs).
If you’re wondering, in 5 days, I’m leaving my Southern California beach life for Asia. I’m off to teach kindergarten English for one year in Seoul, South Korea. The opportunity kept coming up through a friend for about a year before I jumped in. Korea appealed to me because not only is it near top vacation spots such as Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Taiwan, Philippines, Indonesia, and more (plus Korea has it’s own vacay spots like Busan!), but also the school’s compensation package allows teachers to save some money (I want to travel and teach in Latin America after this, and it would be nice to not have to worry about finances while doing some good down there…) while being able to travel and live a comfortable lifestyle. Also, having some friends already living in Korea is a big plus!
I’d traveled Europe when I was 19 and LOVED it…a summer study abroad program in England. I’ve never felt so alive. I’ve always had quite the independent spirit, and during that trip, I found out I’m a pretty adventuresome traveler. I always lost the group and found my own adventure during that summer, sometimes bringing some fellow study abroaders with me, and always making newfound friends along the way. The Euro trip culminated with a 3 day solo trip to the island of Ibiza, Spain. Looking back…kind of a bold move for a 19 year old girl, but I had the time of my life.
On January 1 of 2010, I found myself rummaging through our storage unit, and I stumbled on my travel journal from that magical summer. The journal was full of excited, alive writing, and little things like seashells and sugar packets and plane and subway tickets from all over Europe. I was in a pretty good position at my job, with some amazing coworkers surrounding me, but I was trudging through the mud everyday. An adventure was desperately needed. So, I took this as a sign. New year, new life. A week later, I put in my 2 weeks at my job, trusting that this new plan would unfold perfectly. And 2 weeks later I’d secured the job in Korea. Pretty cool.
Now it’s almost time to leave. And this whole packing thing has really jolted me to the core. When did I become so tied to my material possessions? What’s with the anxiety surrounding packing, and leaving my “stuff” behind? Logically, I know a person does not need much stuff. I know to only bring the things I absolutely adore. But going through my clothes (oh, and being an avid thrift store junkie, oh there are a lot of clothes), I’m coming up with outfits that I haven’t even worn here in the U.S., and thinking, “well, I could layer this with that…”, and “that shirt would be good to teach in”. Then my logical side comes in and says Elisa, you haven’t worn this outfit all year…what makes you think you’re going to start now?
This mind-boggling packing dilemma has me asking questions of my friends already in Korea. One says to bring only the essentials, because people tend to accumulate during their stay. Makes sense. So, in theory, this is what one should pack for Korea.
Whew. So much for packing light…better get down to it! Till next time…