I know, I know, I’ve been here for quite some time, so why I am writing “what to pack” post now, you’ll ask me? Well, I think only after this time I realised what was useful and what I am missing the most, which things are absolutely necessary and which can be left at home. So if you’re planning to go to EVS (or if you’re just interested to hear what I would pack into my “perfect suitcase”) – this blog post is for you!
So, first thing, about how I actually packed my suitcase for one year. The story is far from perfect – before going to Romania I spent one week in Ireland, so I packed my luggage one week in advance, when I came back home I had less than 5 hours until my flight, so I had to do very quick adjustments and, lets just say, not all of them were smart… So, now I learned from my mistakes and next time if I’ll be packing for an year abroad, I will do it like this:
First of all, I think that all stuff for one year should fit into one large suitcase. You might not agree with me, but that’s my approach – I like to keep it (relatively) minimal and save my back from dragging more than one suitcase and also keeping travel costs lower.
- Shoes. I can’t emphasize it more! I had packed a couple of pairs of shoes, but the last minute I thought “Oh, it’s only for an year, so I can buy a couple of cheap pairs in Romania”. So I took out the shoes and added some Lithuanian food instead. Bad idea. Apparently, in Romania my feet are considered to be giant, because in every shop I heard the same: “Whaat? 41? But they don’t even make this size for women!” So, this is how I ended up wearing shoes from men’s store all winter. So, if you want to avoid these kind of problems, pack smart and give the priority to comfy shoes.
- Clothes. Well, in this area I didn’t do so bad – I packed mostly winter clothes and I think that was a good choice. Second hand shops in Romania are cheap, and buying summer/spring clothes is not a problem. I’d say while packing clothes pay most attention to comfort, it’s easy to find where to buy “fancy” clothes, but there’s a big chance that you won’t be needing a lot of those, so pack your comfiest outfits that you’ll feel great in everyday.
- Laptop. I’m glad that I packed both my tablet and laptop because later one decided to stop working properly… But in general I think packing laptop is enough.
- Earphones. I packed two pairs, managed to break them both in first couple of months. No one wants to annoy their roommates with loud music or weird tv shows (I think Lisa wouldn’t appreciate hearing Doctor Who spoilers!), so invest in some proper headphones set.
- One book in your language. In general I prefer reading e-books while I am away from home, but one good friend told me this – book in your mother tongue while in EVS is a must. When you miss your language and your home reading a couple of pages can be very nice.
- Something for your hobby. Ok, if your hobby is playing the piano I’m not suggesting to drag it with you, but find a way to bring something that you like to do – it will help you to adjust to new surroundings if you’ll know that you have your “comfort activity”. I brought my colouring book and it was very nice to unwind after an active day.
- Photos. I didn’t took any and that was the first thing I asked my mum to send me. I know that not everyone gets to decorate their EVS apartment, we were the lucky ones, so now I have cute photo collage next to my bed.
- Backpack. I made a mistake and took nice looking but not a very comfy bag, better take comfortable backpack because (hopefully) you’ll be traveling a lot.
Leave at home:
- Devices. Mp3 player, tablet, e-reader, smartphone, smartwatch, etc. Ok, this is my personal opinion, but I think laptop is completely enough for working, listening to music, watching tv series, reading e-books, etc. Anyways you’re in EVS to meet new people and have new experiences so don’t let your devices stop you from actually engaging with what’s around you. Ok, I learned it the hard way – my smartphone was stolen, but I noticed that now that I don’t have it and I don’t use it, I spend more quality time without constantly checking for messages, etc. So old style phone is definitely enough, and all other fancy devices can wait for you at home.
- Notebooks, heavy books, etc. I am obsessed with notebooks, everyone who knows me, know that I have to have notebook for movies that I have watched, books that I have read, diary, daily planner, shopping list….and basically notebook for every purpose that you can imagine. But they weight quite a lot, so if possible only bring one and if you’ll need more, you can buy, but don’t put too many in your suitcase.
- Food. I think it’s nice to take some of your local food for international evening, etc. but believe me when I say that you don’t need two huge loafs of bread (we, Lithuanians, love our black bread) or big cheese, or pasta (yes, Italians, I’m looking at you!) So save the space and take only a bit of food, not half of the suitcase.
- Valuable things. If you have your grandmother’s medallion, your fancy Rolex watch or whatever, leave them at home. You’ll be travelling a lot and it’s better to avoid “oh where did I put it” moments, because you’re going to forget or lose some stuff along the way.
So, this list is obviously very subjective but I hope it was interesting or you to read about my mistakes and hopefully learn something from them, if your EVS expecience is due to start soon, have fun, it’s an amazing time!