How to Pack for Four Months in China

Four months.

Despite the fact that I board a plane for the other side of the world in two days time, I find myself thinking more about the outcome of The Bachelorette finale. Multiple times a day, I hear “Are you nervous?” and “WOW, two months in a communist country – you must be scared!” Oddly, I’m eerily unaffected by all this–it’ll probably hit me when I step off the plane to a sea of Asian faces or step out of the airport to the smell of rotting fish.

When I do think of the time I’m about to spend in Shanghai, among the things that excite me most is the obscene amount of shopping I’m about to do. This must sound unconscionably shallow for someone about to embark on a journey full of culture and knowledge, but it’s dawned on me in the passing months that I need a change and what better place to re-invent your look than the bustling city of Shanghai! The fifty pound baggage weight limit has been my worst enemy thus far, as I am a notorious over-packer. Realizing that I don’t need two pairs of riding boots and returning a pair to the closet is like ripping off a band-aid.

The following is a fool-proof guide for my over-packers anonymous to result in a 40 pound suitcase:

  • Obtain a suitcase large enough to questionably harbor a standard sized circus animal, preferably red.
  • Empty your most prized possessions and the contents of your closet onto your bed and surrounding areas.
  • Sift through the items for ten minutes.
  • Get tired, make yourself a snack, and spend the next two hours on Netflix.
  • Revisit your earlier project of sifting and sorting.
  • End up cramming every article of clothing into the suitcase, because you just cant afford to leave anything behind.

At this point, your mom should barge in, tear open the suitcase, tell you your teeth need whitening, and proceed to express her disapproval of your choice to pack five cashmere scarves. After days and days of  putting back coats and pairs of wedges, you should be somewhat satisfied with this reduction–who am I kidding, you’ll be pretty pissed.

Then cut that pile in half.

THEN, you’ll be ready. But don’t worry, everything you’ve left behind will be replaced with fabulous finds from your journey. If I learn nothing else from this semester, I’ll surely come back a professional Chinese bargainer.


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