Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Functional Traveller: Turbulence before takeoff

September 18, 2015 by Sera Down, contributing writer

This is the debut of a new column in which Camosun student Sera Down chronicles her adventures as a student in Japan.

There is something to be said of the Type A personality. When it comes to preparing for an extended stint at university in a foreign country, these individuals excel. Their list of necessities is a detailed blueprint to the elaborate Tetris arrangement of every item they could possibly need, plus backups, fail-safes, and proofs of purchases. Employing every space-saving technique adopted from their favourite travel blog, they aim to make travel as fretless as possible.

Then there’s the Type Bs.

The Functional Traveller is an ongoing column in Nexus.

The Functional Traveller is an ongoing column in Nexus (photo by Sera Down/Nexus).

After spontaneously purchasing second-hand (albeit never used) luggage at a consignment shop, and spending a total of 15 minutes doing amusing Google searches such as “how to pack for international travel,” I deemed I had amassed a functional knowledge of packing. Five months in Japan is no short span of time, especially if a necessity is left at home and shipping is upwards of $100 for a small package.

My approach to packing is rather Bohemian: just pack what you need, man. Stand ponderously in the doorway of your bedroom and assess what objects you use on a daily basis. Bring those. Simple as that. For myself, this has essentially boiled down to a hodgepodge of random clothes, an unnecessary selection of Keds sneakers, every USB cord known to man (you never know which one you’ll need), and a barely useable curling iron. Content with my selection, I have deemed my largest suitcase complete (with room to spare) and have wrapped it in an obnoxiously Smarties-patterned luggage cover that resembles a square leotard.

Further intervention from a Type A aunt has revealed that packing proof of ownership of the 95,000 yen in my carry-on may be advisable. And extra socks. And wet wipes. And copies of every prescription I’ve ever received. Just in case.

You get the picture.

While I’ll never be a Type A, immaculately organized and prepared for every possibility, I will deliver reassurance to my fellow Type Bs. Our spontaneity, though often manifesting itself as disorganization, provides us with the ability to adapt and avoid anxiety when something is forgotten. Our “just go with it” attitude opens us up to those unexpected occurrences in which we have to purchase a foreign substitute for a forgotten item, or our sight-seeing plans don’t pan out and we discover an lesser-known corner of a city.

After all, life doesn’t follow an itinerary; why should we?

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