“Packing is always a nightmare.” – Stefanie Powers

A few weeks ago, I would have disagreed with the above quote from Stefanie Powers (don’t worry, I had to Google her too). Nah, I would’ve thought, packing’s fiiiiine. It’s just a case (no pun intended) of throwing a few things into a bag, isn’t it? Nothing to it. I realise now, however, that I was young and naïve; never before had I confronted the mammoth task of condensing my entire life down into one suitcase plus hand luggage. At least with Oxford, one of the only universities in the country that cruelly forces its students to empty their rooms on a termly basis, I had more space to play with – the boot of my dad’s car, to be precise – and only had to pack enough stuff to last what were a fairly predictable eight weeks.

Six months – it might even be more if I go straight from my placement in France to whatever I do next – is a completely different kettle of fish, and I don’t think I quite appreciated how different until it was time to start making piles of clothes and seeing how many pairs of socks would fit into a single shoe (FYI, it’s four at a push). I am still woefully in the dark about several aspects of my internship, have no concept of how much free time I’ll need to fill, and don’t know whether I’ll go out to a club at all in the next six months – all of which make packing that bit more difficult. My (almost) full suitcase has ended up carrying a bit of everything, from what I hope is sufficiently smart workwear to a bikini to a cryptic crossword book. Lack of space has meant that I’ve reluctantly had to remove my beloved red satchel and one of my favourite but very bulky cardigans, but who cares when you’ve got The Parent Trap on DVD and a cocktail book called Tequila Mockingbird?

Zipping the suitcase shut (which will no doubt involve much contortion and frustration) will probably be one of the last things I do tonight before going to bed in preparation for a painfully early start tomorrow. I am so, so ready to go, have a change of scene, and do something a bit different to studying. Being independent is also an extremely alluring prospect right now. Having said that, waving goodbye to my parents and brother in the morning will be very strange, especially given that I don’t know for certain when I’ll next see them.

Yes, I was young and naïve before. Packing signifies so much more than just putting a few things into a suitcase and considering the job done; it sometimes marks a whole new stage in life, and this particular new stage is one that I plan to welcome with open arms and embrace.

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