Monday, March 26, 2012

Suitcases Redux

I lived out of suitcases once.  I'm sure people do it all the time when they go abroad, but since I only have my experience to compare it to, all I can say is that it is helpful to know that the amount of luggage you take with you is generally all you can bring back. Except for cramming in postcards, train passes, a few pounds of chocolate, and such things that are required to bring home when you spend any length of time in Switzerland. Except for that.

I give anyone credit for living abroad who hasn't done it before, no matter where you go. It's definitely a new and revealing experience in so many ways. It's an up close and personal way to get to know either a) the native people of the country you go to, or b) co-workers (classmates if you are studying) in the country you are going to, and/or c) the people you go with to the country (translation on c: you don't go anywhere without your roommates, and if you do, you might get locked IN a school building. True story).

I remember thinking how it was not going to be so hard for me to keep re-wearing the same clothes over and over again while I was over there, because I just naturally don't care that much for shopping or clothes. BUT, I realized while I was there, that I grew really tired of seeing the same clothes. The same few outfits worn slightly different ways. And the Swiss systems for washing clothes (I still love Swiss culture, don't get me wrong:) ). At least, we learned the hard way in our flat. We sublet an apartment from a lady who was originally from Peru and so we didn't know anyone there, and we didn't pay attention to the fact that there was order and apparently a schedule where you could only do laundry every two weeks or something (silly Americans). So, that limited us even more in regards to what we could wear.

We wore out our clothes. By the time we got home I wanted to throw my clothes out they were so worn in, especially due to all the times stuffing them in backpacks and the lovely hostels and trains and everywhere we stayed and slept. But, I think it showed me, or rather, I learned, and often un-learn and have to reapply for myself, that I don't need that much to get by. Being an outsider creates that for you, it creates the ability to see more of life than you could before.

Fast forward from living in Switzerland back in 2005 to moving to North Carolina in 2006, starting out, again, with mainly a few suitcases to my name. At that moment, I have very little, but it serves it's purpose in that time. As I grew into what I was doing here, I accumulated a lot. More stuff than I need included. But, as I think on my time here, like Switzerland, it's not the stuff that's created the life, but it's the people and the places I've been. That's fullness to me.

I write this because it helps me to learn and re-learn this, even daily, as our world and even my life has so much stuff in it. Sometimes I need to remember the suitcases and what causes me to see more.


  1. Hey Girl!
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It reminds me of my time spent in Guatemala last Summer. It certainly did open up my mind to new ways of living or living without! It's amazing to travel and I hope to do more of that! -Blessings, Amy

    1. Thanks for sharing that, Amy! I have heard many people talk about Guatemala. It makes me think about going there sometime. I think so many of those experiences do open your mind further in lots of ways.

  2. What a cool experience... and the impact it has had on your life to this day. It's amazing what we can live without, isn't it??

    1. I love hearing from you, friend! Yes, it's amazing to me how some parts of my life seem to be forever etched in my heart and truly make an impact even over time...

  3. Isn't it funny how we can think of experiences from long ago ( I stayed with a friend in Sweden for two months when I was nineteen), and now we see big things from those little glimpses of time.

    I know when I traveled, I didn't see much except for fun, but through the fun I was growing in ways I couldn't explain.

    I got your email, and yes, it is a long trip. Like the friend it, do it. Keep me posted.