Last week I officially announced my move to Kosova. (If you missed it you can catch it HERE.) I will be in the country for ten months teaching fourth grade at Prishtina High School. Though Tom and I travelled extensively, I have never lived abroad. Actually, I never lived away from home. I never had a college dorm experience where I had to pack for the school year. I lived with my parents until I was eighteen. That’s when Tom and I married and moved into a home of our own.
It’s time to pack. I can’t rely on the old vacation motto, “As long as you have your bathing suit you can manage.” I’ll be living in a country where the winters are cold and long. There’s no going home on the weekend to pick up a sweater I forgot.
Nope, I have to be careful with what I take. And wise. I can check two pieces of luggage. Each piece can weigh no more than fifty pounds. Let’s see, two winter coats, boots, shoes, and assortment of clothes will hit that ceiling in no time. I still need to include a couple of towels, sheets, and personal care items.
I’m taking my computer, a few teaching supplies, and a couple of books in my backpack. Of course I need my hot/cold insulated water bottle and my travel pillow. I’m bent on squeezing the clothes I’ll wear in both the fall and spring into my carry-on bag.
I talk with my friend and fellow world traveler, Jill about how to pack. She recommends I find truck storage trunks in the auto department at a local store to use as my checked luggage. “The total measurements, height plus length plus depth can’t exceed sixty-two inches,” she tells me.
Hmmm…every trunk I find is over by an inch until I hit my local Tractor Supply store. My daughter, Allison is a packing whiz so I invite her over to help me squeeze my jeans, slacks, coats, dresses, tops, sweaters, shoes and socks into the small space. Not to mention my undergarments and jammies.
We’ve decided to divide the pile of clothes I’ve assembled on my bed into two seasons: “winter” and “everything else.” We’ll pack a bit of each season in each trunk so that if the airline happens to lose a piece of my luggage, I can still manage. My firstborn works her magic and with the help of vacuum bags (what a great invention) I have two trunks packed in a matter of minutes.
I also pack a reversible dress in my backpack. Just in case. At least until my luggage catches up with me I’ll have clothes to wear. Experience speaking.
And then there’s the food. Not snacks. Food. I laugh at myself as I drop an assortment of hot water friendly staples in the crevices of each trunk, stuffing a few in my carry-on and backpack as well. Nothing crazy. Packets of instant oatmeal, dry chicken soup, and ramen noodles. I laugh because taking the food with me reminds me of my Korean friends who carried bags of rice and beans along with a single burner gas stove with them when they moved to Cincinnati.
“All Koreans bring rice and beans and a stove with them,” On-yong told me. “We worry we won’t be able to find food we can eat in America.” I can still see her smile. I take some of the packets out. People in Kosova eat. There’ll be food.
Two trunks, one carry on, and a backpack. Now if I could just find a little more room for my bathing suit. You never know when I might need it.
Join me as I travel to Kosova (the Albanian pronunciation for Kosovo) in Southeastern Europe. Each week I’ll share my experiences. Leave your comments and questions below. I’ll try to address each as best I can.