I’ve officially hit seven days before departure, which means the thing I’ve been dreading the most since I decided to study abroad: packing. I’ve thought about packing a lot the past few weeks, knowing that it was going to be an inevitable torture. Packing for Australia and Costa Rica when I was younger proved to be a challenge. It would take me a whole day to pack and repack a suitcase and a backpack. But packing for six months? Where do I even begin? How am I going to fit enough clothes for the winter, spring and summer seasons? How many shoes do I bring? How many jackets? Shorts? I was stressed before I even began. However, I am happy to say I have made it through alive and am at the last stages of packing (thanks to help from my mom). I started packing at around 2:00 p.m. and after multiple breaks, I zipped up my suitcase around 9:30 p.m., which I considered a success.

The key to packing for six months: compression bags. It took some time to figure out the magic behind them and enlisting some help from my mom was a huge time saver too. I ordered the largest no vacuum seal bags I could find on Amazon and hoped for the best. After clothes covered every inch of my room and I’d looked through the entirety of my closet at least 20 times, we began putting everything we could fit into those miracle bags: coats, sweaters, swimsuits, jeans, anything and everything. After filling each bag up to the brim and we used every way imaginable to push the air out of the bags. Kneeling or sitting on them after they were rolled proved to be the best tactic to remove the excess air. Seven large compression bags and a significant workout later, we managed to fit all of the clothes on my bedroom floor into one suitcase, with room left over for bathroom supplies and shoes. At the end, the contents of my luggage weighed 49 pounds and the airline limit was 50. Nothing like cutting it close, but I was just happy to be done for the most part.

I still have to pack up my carry on and my backpack with some more clothes, snacks and things to do on the plane. I’m most excited to take my new Nikon DSLR camera with me. I had a chance to work on my photography skills during my communications internship with Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies last semester. I got to work with their amazing equipment and even attended a photography class. I’m looking forward to spending more time learning how to shoot manual and edit pictures while I’m in Denmark. I can’t wait to strengthen my skills and show off how I’ve improved when I get back.

I can happily report that packing for six months abroad was not quite as daunting as I thought, partly because my mom was such a huge help. If you can, I would recommend having someone double check what you decide to pack just in case they catch something you forgot to add, or maybe something you won’t actually need while your there.

Here’s to hoping I get through TSA security without any trouble!