Time to Take Off!

Authored by:
Alexis P.

Alexis P.

Today is the day before my adventure into the vast world begins! I have exactly 11 hours before I board my plane heading to South Africa. This summer has flown by way too fast. I remember being notified about this opportunity and being a recipient of the Global Scholars Grant in February. My emotions were at an all-time high, I was super excited, anxious, and nervous about taking on such an exploration on my own and in such a quickly approaching time. Fast forwarding a few months and here we are…

Unfortunately, I’m a huge procrastinator when it comes to the important things. I will leave a few tips about what I wish I would’ve done differently, advice on packing, and how I prepared for my study abroad trip. 

So, let’s begin with preparing. Research, research, and more research is the best advice I could give. (I probably should’ve done more of it myself). Of course, you should look up the history of the destination you’re visiting and their cultural normatives, but other topics sparked my interest. I love sightseeing and excursions, but more so things that natives would do rather than tourists. I would look up vlogs and websites of different travelers who’d had amazing times and steal some of their itineraries. As you’ll soon learn, I LOVE food. Another important point of research was the type of food was common in the country and different restaurants I’d plan to try. Google and Instagram were my best friends throughout majority of my research. Weather was also major in my research as it would determine how I packed, which leads me to my next point. 

My number one question throughout my entire planning process for this semester has been, how will I pack for five months in such limited space? I am restricted to two checked bags under 50 lbs, one carry- on, and one personal item. For such a long time, I figured I’d need wayyyy more space than that! I like to consider myself a bit of a fashionista. I love expressing myself via clothing just as much as I like purchasing it. My favorite store in the entire world is Zara and European Zara’s have any American store beat. Once I realized I’d be interested in shopping while abroad, I was faced with two problems: how to pack my life in this luggage and how to leave enough space to bring things back. It’s almost time to leave and I still haven’t completely figured it out. I’ve watched several videos on YouTube and one common piece of advice I gathered from all, were to layer clothing. I packed a lot of basic garments ranging from thin to thick fabric in a plethora of colors to give my wardrobe versatility. I also limited my jeans, as they can become extra baggage contributing to the weight of my suitcase. A useful technique is to mix and match multiple tops, jackets, etc. with different bottoms and shoes to recreate many new outfits. I began to get the hang of packing to save space but, the whole time I have been very cautious about what I’m packing due to the weather. I will be in South Africa, Denmark, and Italy so that’s three different climates to take into consideration. Most of the time I am away, these countries will be cold with temperatures as low as 30 and as high as 70 degrees. Again, dressing in layers will come in handy. So far, everything seems to fit. I used a lot of suggested packing lists online to gather the other documents, toiletries, and necessities needed. Everything was fairly self-explanatory, it’s just difficult to pack for such a long period of time. 

I have to cut this short since I am in the process of packing last minute items and running inconvenient errands. I’m praying for safe and comfortable travels in the morning as I head to Johannesburg with family for a mini vacation before settling into my academic environment of Cape Town next week. Talk to you soon!


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