The pain of packing one’s worldly possessions into a suitcase was so much that I’m only just bringing myself to write this post five days after the incident took place…and I’m still suffering post-traumatic stress even thinking about it. Monday 10th January 2011 was one of the most stressful I have ever known, made all the more difficult by the realisation that all my things were just not going to fit.
My first attempt at packing had my suitcase at 28.5kg (my limit was 23kg) and my little ‘shoes’ holdall at 10kg. At that point, all of the clothes in the ‘maybe’ pile had to go, unfortunately along with most of the ‘can’t live without’ pile too. My second attempt was better, with my suitcase weighing in at 22.5kg, however the holdall wouldn’t even do up with less than half my remaining belongings. As a result, my Mum was dispatched to collect a newer, bigger holdall from Argos to fill (and I mean fill) with what was left. My third and final attempt at packing left my suitcase at 22kg, and my new Puma holdall at 18kg, with my hand luggage consisting of a backpack and a laptop satchel.
Backpack – Book, guide book, scarf, gloves, slippers, ear warmer, tissues, flu tablets, throat sweets, bottle of water, deodorant, make up bag, glasses, contact lens case, plasters, purse, passport, immigration documents, padlocks, Vaseline, iPod, diary, pen
Satchel – laptop, laptop charger, money, jewellery, magazines
Suitcase – Coat, salopettes, handbags x 2, hoodie x 2, hooded jacket, jeans x 2, denim skirt, smart trousers x 2, smart tops x 3, dresses x 6, tops x 10, leggings x 6, tights x 2, underwear
Holdall – Snow boots, Trainers x2, heels x2, ballet pumps x 2, work shoes, heeled boots, wash bag, wash bag with hair bits, wash bag with make-up bits, phone charger, camera bits, scarves, hat, ski gloves, good luck/goodbye cards, framed photo
This time in 4 days I’ll be beginning my descent into Vancouver International Airport, which is for some reason abbreviated to YVR. It’s getting pretty close now, and the final countdown has well and truly begun this week with the release of the contact details of other BUNAC participants booked onto the group flight. It just so happens that I’m running low on reading material for the plane, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to matter as there will be 37 other people to talk to!
I was expecting 10-15 others to have booked onto the flight through BUNAC, but it’s great to see that there’ll be even more of us turning up to the airport decked out in ski jackets, bulky hoodies and a million and one layers dragging the world’s biggest suitcases and weeping relatives (just me?). What’s even better is chatting to everyone and realising that I’m not the only one who hasn’t quite finalised my CV, told my bank I’m leaving the country, or chosen how many pairs of shoes to take with me.
Whilst I have noticed that I’m sleeping less and grinding my teeth more (classic anxious Lizzie) I’m also thinking about what to wear to the airport and planning my first few days in the city (classic excited Lizzie). The more I worry the more I realise that there are dozens of things I haven’t done that I could have, or even should have, but the more I also recognise that none of these things are likely to really make a difference in the long run.
Anyone who knows me (and anyone who doesn’t but has been reading this blog) will know that I like to plan. I’m not a total Monica Gellar, but part of me definitely subscribes to the notion of ‘organised fun’. As a result, most of my anxiety stems from the fact that in 4 days time I’m going to be in a brand new situation that I cannot possibly imagine let alone plan for; in essence, there is no plan! It’s not that I’m not prone to moments of spontaneity (I have a list as long as my entire body of items I purchased on a whim but never used, and it includes a violin and CDJ decks) but I do like to know what’s happening next, so jetting off to live in another country with no job is going to be a scary but liberating experience.
I’m jumping head first into a scenario where I won’t know what the coins in my purse are worth, how to turn my mobile phone Canadian or where to get the bus to the mountains, but the thought of living without any trace of a plan is strangely refreshing. And if it all goes wrong, at least I’m in good company…