five days 24 hours until I depart for Indonesia, the race is on to boil, synthesize and pare my life down into two suitcases. This process is surreal and curious as I comb through collections of items from the last 6 years of “where I live”: San Diego, Berkeley, Nashville. Soon, Yogyakarta can claim a spot on that list. Until then, I will share the packing process, a few important things to consider, and maybe a picture or two.
Indonesia is quite particular about handing out their visas. AMINEF, the lead organization in Indonesia partnered with the Fulbright Commission, worked for roughly 5 months to acquire the appropriate paperwork for grantees. Even then, they were forced to delay our departure date by 2 weeks, and consigned to processing all of our visas in Singapore as a group.
The extra two weeks afforded me the opportunity to travel up to the Bay Area to visit old friends from Cal, and to participate in a lovely Summit reunion-ish dinner. It allowed me to venture into downtown San Diego for a SoundLogik event. Even though I’m only leaving for one year, goodbyes are difficult.
Forging a life of adventure and exploration takes its toll. At times I feel guilty about forming relationships with people – about allowing them to invest themselves in me. I know these are relationships that I may not be able to wholly fulfill during my travels, particularly with my presence. Modern technology eases this burden a bit, and I have learned to set clear expectations beforehand.
Preparing for a year-long excursion abroad was an enjoyable, somewhat expensive, and arduous task. The small chores of notifying the bank that you’re leaving the country, getting extra passport photos, and ensuring my student loan repayment plan is in order is time-consuming, and frankly quite boring. The most difficult part for me has been determining exactly which items I needed. What would simply be dead weight in my suitcase that could be purchased in Indo? What items will I talk excitedly about to my Indonesian counterparts who will nod and smile in confusion? Will Amazon still respect my Prime membership?
When packing, I divided my things into three categories: 1. Essentials, 2. Important, 3. Superfluous joy. Category 1 items include: 3 dress shirts, 3 slacks (black, grey, khaki), 6 tshirts, rain gear, teaching supplies, “oleh oleh” gifts for the people I meet. Category 2 items include: sleeping bag, tent, those books on my bedside table. Category 3 items: slackline, and hammock. I’m not entirely sure which category my mosquito net falls into.
Eventually I will write a post on all the items I brought, which ones actually turned out to be useful, and which ones collected dust. I’d be interested to hear about items other people wouldn’t travel without. If you have an item that most people don’t think of, but is life-changing, throw it in the comments. One friend convinced me to bring a cashmere blanket for the plane. Apparently they’re game-changers.
For people that want to keep in touch with me while I am abroad I have Viber, Hangouts, email, and you are also welcome to visit.