Category Archives: Before the Trip

Nervous Excitement



It’s hard to believe that so much time has passed since I found these books under the tree on Christmas morning. I hadn’t looked at them much during the following weeks because my summer excursion to Spain felt like a distant dream. Second semester classes took priority from January to April, so the books gathered dust on a shelf for awhile. Once classes started winding down in mid April, it was time to think ahead to May 5th, the start of my month-long Spanish adventure. Excerpts from the National Geographic book introduced me to Madrid’s history and culture, detailing every museum, plaza and festival. Although the excerpts have painted colorful pictures of the city, they  haven’t made this distant dream enough of a reality for me to feel totally confident and prepared for tomorrow’s flight. My suitcase is packed and my checklist is nearly complete, but I still feel nervous that I’m not ready. Even though I’ve read about the city, there’s no way to know exactly what to expect when you go to a foreign country for the first time. Fear of the unknown future is probably a natural anxiety, so I am embracing the emotion as a sign that I am determined to make the most out of my European journey.

After all, there is so much to look forward to: trips to museums and the bullfighting ring, flamenco classes and day-long excursions are some of the activities on the itinerary along with Spanish classes, educational lectures and deadlines for journalistic content. Every day will be a new adventure. I’ll embrace a foreign way of life as I get to know my host family in Salamanca for the first two weeks and my sources for online stories when I arrive in Madrid on may 20th. I am eager and excited to experience life with people of a different cultural background and to come home a more worldly, compassionate journalist.




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Packing is an art form

Packing for a long trip is a lot like the editing process. You start with an empty suitcase, your blank document, which you must fill with only your most essential possessions. At first your clothes are piled high like the data of a lengthy research paper, and you think that you can include everything. You categorize the data into logical sections; t-shirts, shorts and dresses are split into their own piles. After you finish organizing what you want to include, you stuff the piles into your suitcase and thankfully the zipper co-operates with you. The suitcase is full, but this is only the first draft.

As you get closer to your departure date, you revisit your suitcase. You realize you’ve packed 6 dresses and no shorts. You forgot a bathing suit. You also start to worry that your bag will be too heavy when you get to the airport. Like the second draft of a research paper, packing requires a bit of editing. You wouldn’t want to turn in a paper without a third body paragraph just as you wouldn’t want to be on a beach in a foreign country without your bathing suit. Of course, you can buy one while you’re there, but who’s to say that there will be enough room in your suitcase to bring the suit home? You want your suitcase to be stacked with everything you’ll need just as you’d want your research paper to be your best effort.

This is exactly the situation I’m dealing with right now. My large suitcase is packed with clothes and I’m almost positive that it will exceed the 50lb limit when I arrive at the airport on May 5th. A second draft of packing is necessary at this point. Here is what I had for the first draft:


Second draft:


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