The Perils of Packing for Paris

Katie Hale is a student at Luther College and an ISA Featured Blogger. Katie is currently studying abroad with ISA in Paris, France.


The word has been looming over me like a storm cloud, a sheer cliff, or any other doom-infused image you can think of.


I’ve never been good at packing; I’m terribly inefficient and always leave it until the last minute. It took at least 5 people to move me out of my dorm room a week ago, and the process of packing up, moving back home, unpacking everything, and packing for France is seriously stressing me out. It doesn’t help that I have a lot of clothes to begin with, so trying to fit 6 months’ worth into one checked bag is basically asking for a miracle.

I think there are several reasons I’m having difficulties, besides my usual struggles with packing. One is that I’m packing for a place that, for all intents and purposes, I have never been to before. I have no idea what life is going to be like, so how can I possibly know what I’ll want to wear? Yes, I do wear that shirt all the time over here, but will it work over there? Is this outfit stylish enough for Paris? Maybe that makes me shallow. I’m sure spending time worrying over my French vocab would be far more productive in the long run than worrying about clothes, but it’s a true struggle for me.

Another hurdle, and maybe the reason that I’ve put it off for so long, is that packing makes this real. Having the suitcase there and ready to go is a reminder that yes, I am leaving for Paris in 2 days and, yes, I will be away from my family and friends for 6 months. Am I excited? You bet! But am I also nervous, anxious, and scared out of my wits? Absolutely! As excited as I am about this trip, there’s a part of me that is completely terrified.

But putting off packing doesn’t really help; in fact, it makes it worse. So what I should really do is stop blogging about it and start actually doing it. Just take it one piece at a time and ask yourself, “Do I really need that sweater?” Chances are, the answer is no. Now, to practice what I preach. Wish me luck!

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