While I said I wouldn’t update until I got to Croatia, I actually have a lot of things relating to exchange to talk about, and once I get to my host country, there will be so many other things to write that I’ll probably end up forgetting. This post is going to cover how and what I packed and some tips for that, what I’m doing for pins, how I chose gifts for my host family, and just some other little last minute things (I leave on Tuesday, and today is Friday, so four full days left).
I’m going to cover packing first. I really like packing. I have no idea why, but packing has always been fun for me. Yesterday afternoon, I did the majority of my packing because my last clothing items that I bought for exchange came in the mail. Before I talk about actually packing, I’ll talk a bit about clothes. I can really only speak for those going on exchange to Europe, because that’s the only style I’ve researched since it applies to me, but BUY BASICS. If you’re someone who likes to wear a lot of colors and pieces that don’t easily match (like a lot of bright colored jeans and a lot of bright colored shirts), it’s going to be difficult. When packing for/buying clothes for exchange, you need to keep in mind your limited space and weight requirements, the wear-ability of each piece in your country, and how many different outfits you can make with it. This was easy for me since I primarily wear neutrals anyway (that’s an understatement, I only wear neutrals), but I still had to buy a lot of clothing. Keep an eye out for clothes that are good for layering and can be used in many seasons, like basic camis (I recommend Forever 21 for these, they’re like $1.90 each, they have TONS of colors and I’ve had some of mine for over a year now without so much as a string coming loose), basic t-shirts (try Target, they have a lot of basic Ts in a lot of different colors and styles for 7-10 dollars), and cardigans (Target also has some good ones, but mine are from Aeropostale because there was a sale). These things can fold to be quite small and you can make tons of different outfits just by mixing and matching them. I’m also bringing a lot of scarves. Scarves also fold up pretty small and are lightweight, but you can totally change an outfit just by adding a scarf. I picked up the majority of the clothing I’m bringing from Forever 21, H&M, and Belk. Forever 21 and H&M are both great stores for cheap basics, and they often have great staple pieces like black t-shirts in their clearance sections for $4 or less. Belk’s is kind of more exclusive to me. First of all it’s only in certain parts of America, and second of all my dad works there so I get a major discount. I actually bought my Rotary blazer from Belk’s, as well as all the jeans I’m bringing and a few other things. If you do have Belk’s near you, it’s worth checking out because they almost always have 20% off sales going on.
Okay, onto the actual packing. My mom bought me E-bags on Amazon, which are basic packing bags. I got a large size, a medium size, and a small size. In the large one, I fit all of my shirts (short sleeve, sleeveless, and long sleeve) and my cardigans. In the medium one, I put all of my scarves and beanies, as well as a few extra things like a sports bra. In the small one, I put socks, underwear, and bras. I placed the large one flat on the bottom of my suitcase. There was enough room left on the side that I placed the medium one there too, but vertically. Then I tucked all my skirts, shorts, and leggings into the small spaces between the bags and the suitcase (all rolled of course). My jeans, sweaters, jackets, and dresses were rolled and placed on top of the large bag. I then still had enough room for 3 pairs of shoes. Some of the stuff I’m bringing was left out because I need to wear it the next few days, but that will go into my carry-on with my makeup, host family gifts, and odds-and-ends. I know everyone says to pack your makeup, but most of my makeup is not liquid so that’s not a problem, and I do plan to put some on as the plane lands in Zagreb so that I won’t look like a total zombie after 2 days of traveling. My personal bag, a backpack, will hold one emergency outfit, everything electronics-related, camera, snacks, first aid kit, money, and my pins.
Speaking of pins, the president of my sponsoring club was able to get me mine. There’s a bunch of different kinds, but they all either have my town or my Rotary district on them. I really like them and I can’t wait to start giving them out! There were also a lot of pins from other Rotary districts, but it would have been weird to give those to other people, so I put them on my blazer instead. She also gave me a few host family gifts (merchandise for a college right next to my town), which I’ll give to my family along with a few other items I’ve picked up for them myself.
There is probably still more stuff to go over, but this post is already long and so I’ll cut it short! I will post once I get to Croatia!