I’m leaving for post in the next several days, which means that I am now in my Predeparture Whirlwind. By turns I’m overwhelmed by everything I need to get done and confident that I’ve got pretty much everything under control. We’ll see how it goes when I get to packing out and then flying out…
While I’m no stranger to international moves, I’m finding that because my life circumstances have changed so much since my last Big Move, the experiences are not very similar at all. Nearly four years ago I packed as much as I could into my 2 blue pieces of checked luggage, one overstuffed carryon, and one heavy shoulder bag to fly to Istanbul for what I thought would be one year in Turkey doing my Fulbright research. That luggage held primarily clothing, but also a cooking pot, kitchen knife, some silverware and plastic plates, academic books and peanut butter. I moved into the Bogazici University dorms for my summer program when I arrived, and had to immediately run out and buy bedsheets, a pillow, and an electric fan after I checked in to my room. Later, after I had settled in to Ankara, my parents had to ship me a dress after I bought my Marine Ball ticket.
Now, my two suitcases, one carryon and one shoulder bag (the same luggage and shoulder bag, I should note, have seen me through Turkey, West Africa, Turkey again, DC, and now once more to Turkey. High Sierra and Timbuk2, folks; they are nothing if not durable) will only hold the necessities I’ll need for the first month or so. I’ll have several hundred pounds of belongings arrive after a month or two, and even more of my belongings will meander their way to Turkey by boat, arriving some time later.
My carryon and checked luggage will still have to be packed with military precision: whatever I pack in that will have to get me through meetings en route to Turkey, my traveling itself, a friend’s wedding, vacation and visiting in Istanbul, starting work in Ankara, exercise togs, gifts for people at post, and of course the five flights I have scheduled over the next two weeks. But I don’t need to pack cooking supplies or peanut butter – I’ll receive a Welcome Kit on arrival with basic household necessities for me to use until my first shipment gets to Ankara, and my fridge will be stocked with basics. That certainly makes my decisions on what to bring a little easier, and the packing process a little less stressful (it also makes it easier to arrive at post and immediately get to work, which is generally what we do).
This packing process is also a bit less stressful for me because I already know Turkey pretty well, so I’m fairly familiar with what I can get on-the-ground (and I’m lucky in that I’ll have some time right away to grab some of those things – at the top of the list is an electric kettle and a blender that runs on European power). And if for some reason I absolutely must have something I can’t find locally, I can get things shipped without having to worry quite so much about whether or not I’ll ever see a package delivered.
I wrote the preceding post about a week ago, pre-packout and before my departure from DC. I’m now partway through my journey, leaving the States quite soon. Packing out was stressful, but I think it went well overall. We’ll just see whether my belongings show up in Turkey in the next few months! So far, I’m thinking I overpacked work attire and underpacked dressy casual clothes in my checked luggage.