Girl in Foreign Land: Chapter 3- Pack it!

two bags of 23kgs each

The next task in my journey to the foreign land was to pack 24 years of my life in two bags of 23kgs each. Surprised? Well, I was terrified! First of all, how does one convert the units? No matter what, this needed to be done.

I haven’t stayed outside home before this. Therefore, I am short of experience as to what essentials you might need for a long stay outside home. Without much ado, let’s dive straight into this mission. However, just to notify everyone, the mission comes with its own set of constraints. Let me list them down for you.

Constraints

Air India allows two bags of 23kgs each and a handbag of 7kgs. So as already stated, that is the threshold value.

If possible, I am supposed to carry kitchen essentials such as saucepan and cooking ingredients, to possibly some dry food to help me in the first few days of my stay. Stationery such as pens and notebooks, adapters, WiFi router, toiletries; everything needed to be in the packing list. This is because once I am in Stockholm, everything will be too expensive compared to India (obviously!) and therefore I am supposed to fill up my stocks as much as possible from home.

If I was just relocating to some other city in my own country, there is always a possibility to be back home in a few months or so. This was not the case here. I was looking at a time span of at least one year. So I had to pack keeping in mind this time frame. Also, sending an international parcel would be costly. I have got to save as much as I can. Repercussions of foreign education, it is called.

Finally, I was travelling alone from Kolkata to Stockholm. Having to manage 46kgs of luggage did give me some nightmares.

Planning

Hence, keeping these constraints in mind, I started out on this mammoth task. Advice kept pouring from all over. Families and friends (families mostly, as they are the ones to get bothered with these kinds of things ). Everybody had their own suggestions regarding preparing the perfect packing list. At this point, I will have to mention Abhineet’s blog who was a former student of KTH, from India and he had created a packing list which was a great help to me during my preparation. Hence, combining all the ideas from the different sources and adding to it my own wisdom, my checklist was prepared.

Procurement

The next step was shopping. Therefore over the next few days, my parents and I went to different shops and bought all the stuff, ticking off the items in the checklist one by one. Special attention was given to the weight of the items (reasons already stated above) and the utility of the item was also considered. Some of the notable buys were;

  • 2 trolley bags (large enough to sustain 23 kgs)
  • pressure cooker ( I was very very angry at the thought of having to carry it but had to give in to my father’s persistence)
  • spike buster and travel adapters (very essential since most of my gadgets wouldn’t plug into the Europe power socket)
  • Wifi router (more important than food, since the Internet is the most essential thing nowadays, right?)
  • steam iron (isn’t there a correlation between graduate studies and ironed formal shirts?)
  • shampoo, soap, handwash, toothpaste etc. (in generous amounts, to last me 1 year. I am not going to spend an extra penny on these things there !)
  • stationery items which include notebooks, pens, calculator etc. (C’mon, I am going there to study. I need these things.)
  • washing powder (I have enquired that the laundry room comes along with the accommodation but one needs to get their own detergent)

I am going to Scandinavia. Therefore you might wonder why one of the essential items i.e winter wears is missing from my list. Well, firstly, it makes sense to buy it in Stockholm since I don’t think winter clothes available in Kolkata is suitable enough to sustain the Nordic winter. Secondly, it would make my luggage heavier. However, I did pack whatever winter clothes I had with me at home. I did not buy anything new for Stockholm.

Packaging

Finally, the day arrived. Until now we had been dumping the items which were purchased for my stay abroad in the new trolley bags. But now they needed to be packed in an efficient manner. With a day left to my flight, my father took up the responsibility of the packaging. He ensured that every inch of the space in the trolley was utilized. Also, he divided the weight between the two bags intelligently. But, as is the normal case, everything does not work out perfectly in the first run, does it? Therefore, naturally, after the 1st round of packing, the bags weighed around 26 kgs each.

Round 2 commenced! On a side note let me tell you that lifting the bags on top of the weighing machine and recording the reading on the scale was a task in itself. Moving forward, the next step was elimination. This episode was sad. I had to let go of some of my favourite tops and jeans and above all my treasured diary containing all my writing throughout the years. My father promised me to send them by parcel. We could surely do with the cost of a one time courier.

This amused me the most!

My home turned into a grocery store in the next few hours. Instead of weighing the whole bag, this time each of the items that were being left out was weighed separately. This weight was then subtracted from the total weight. Only one of the two backpacks could fit in. Therefore both were measured and their weights compared. Reordering of the items amongst the two bags were done based on the updated calculation. My brother volunteered to assist father, this time. It was nearing midnight and I had to start for the airport, the next day at 7 a.m. Finally, with a few more rounds of elimination and optimization, the packaging was completed.

Shipping

My brother carried the bags down the staircase of our building into the carriage of the car and onto the trolley in the airport. After this, I take over.

P.S: I sneaked in a pair of my heels into the hand luggage without the knowledge of my father because he was already freaking out at the amount of clothes I was carrying.

P.S 2: After arriving in Stockholm, I came to know from my friends, that Air India allowed a third 23kg bag if I show them my admission letter from the university, stating that I am coming for the 1st time.

Read the previous chapters of my journey here.

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