Tuesday, December 29, 2009

This is the Day

I woke up and looked at the clock to make sure that I hadn't overslept. It was 6:34 am. Considering we aren't leaving my grandparents' house for O'Hare until at least noon, I sunk back into my pillow and rolled over. But I didn't sleep well after that. I kept dreaming that I had forgotten something, that my stuff wouldn't fit in my bags, or had something in my luggage (e.g., a tin of jewelery) which they wouldn't let through customs, which left me to figure out how not to have it confiscated. Then I dreamed that my aunt married a tall, muscular Eastern European man and we were all late for the wedding (including the bride and groom).

I'm not accustomed to getting nervous about traveling. I get nervous about academics, primarily, and some performances as well. I always get nervous before something, which I think is good, because then by the time that something arrives, I'm able to conquer it nervous-lessly. (Just ask anyone who's spent time with me around the Ethics Bowl competition.)

So I know I'll be fine. It's part of the experience. I have a few more things to fit into my 3 backpacks, and I'll be ready. We were late picking my brother up from our cousins' house where he had spent the night because I spent too much time in the Walmart aisle trying to decide if I should buy a collapsible duffel bag to pack in my luggage now and bring back as a piece of checked luggage in June. I'm not good at making decisions to begin with, and it gets worse when I'm trying to plan for my unknown future and it involves money, which I'm not fond of parting with.

You see, I purchased a wheeled luggage set on a pretty good sale at 4:30 am on Black Friday. But then my dad's coworker lent me a German backpacking backpack (if that's what they're called) which his wife used when they traveled the world for three years. It came with a waterproof cover and a nylon bag which I put it in to send it through as checked luggage so I don't have to worry about buckles breaking. Once I discovered how comfortably I could carry around 35 lbs. of stuff on my back and thought about how much nicer it would be to travel around Europe with a backpack rather than pulling my luggage around behind me down the street, I couldn't bring
myself to keep the wheelie luggage. It's just a bit too conventional for me, even if it was a good deal.

So I bought the duffel bag, and have since managed to fit it in my regular backpack. I figure I'll carry my "purse" (aka small backpack) on my front, my checked luggage (aka backpackers' backpack) on my back, and my carry-on (aka regular backpack) in my hand. And then in June I'll add a duffel bag to the other hand.

Since that's probably a lot more detail than you really care to know, this seems like a good place to stop. I'm bringing my computer along, so I might be able to blog in London tomorrow morning. That is, if it holds out that long. It's been acting up so much lately that I don't expect it to make it through the semester. Perhaps that's one way I'll lighten my load for the trip home.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

And So It Begins

Well, here it is: my first official blog post. Somehow I feel like it should contain something more significant than an introduction, but that's about all I have right now. I must admit, it's kind of strange for me to write this without knowing who will read it. But since that's part of the point anyway, I think I shall have to get over it.

I leave for Egypt in one week. The days in between now and then will be a flurry of family and food, church and Christmas celebrations, packing and farewells. I need to be intentional about actually experiencing it, because it would be very easy to sort of float through and not come to my senses until I get off the plane in Cairo. The brevity of my visit home intensifies the normal concerns of balancing to-do lists and family time, but such is life.

Yesterday I received my housing assignment for SIS (Semester in Spain). (Nicole Baeten, wherever you are, I look forward to rooming with you for a semester.) The instructions explained that upon arrival I am to hail myself a taxi,
introduce myself to my host family, and get myself to orientation two days later. Even though I laughed at the slip of of paper with my address on it which I'm to hand to the taxi driver (Por favor, lleváme a la siguiente dirección) and the explanation of how to read the address itself, I did so only half in jest. I've never actually hailed a cab in America, and now I get to do so for the first time in Spain. Unless I have reason to do so in Egypt first. . .