by Sarah Tran
Depending on where you are at the moment, good morning or good evening from me to you. It is currently 7 p.m. in Seoul, Korea as I am writing this. Sitting outside a bright yellow bakery, I watch students go by in white and pink uniforms while children gaze in awe. Although I can’t understand Korean very well, I do in fact understand the language of love. Sounds cheesy, but when you’re in a foreign country, you hold onto the sound of laughter and familiarity. Whether you’re traveling, studying abroad, or embarking on a solo adventure, the thought of facing the world can sound intimidating. Today, I’m here to guide you step by step from beginning to end — from packing for your trip to making it one for the books.
Let’s start off with packing for your however-long trip. Let’s say, you’re carrying the standard baggage: one carry-on and one check-in. When I told people that I would be studying abroad in Korea for the summer, all I heard was, “WOW, it is going to be hot and humid.” So naturally, my top priority was deciding what on earth was I going to wear. However, because material items are in fact the last things you need to worry about, here are your travel essentials in four different styles.
I. Chic & Comfortable
Anyone can give you a list of the basics (passport, cell phone, etc), but what most people fail to mention is to pack the things that remind you of home. Due to being gone for three months, I packed small trinkets that would give me a sense of comfort. Most importantly, fashion has and always will be a form of self-expression for me personally, so make sure to stay true to that. Months before leaving on my excursion, I found myself looking at Korean fashion and hoping to blend in as much as possible. The truth of the matter is, you’re going to stick out in some way or another, so it might as well be for sporting your own personal style.
II. Travel Tech-Guru
To all the Instagram boyfriends and blogger gals, I applaud you. As someone who films and photographs as a hobby, here’s what I think is a great starter pack. However, if you’re trying to decide between a GoPro or a Canon, go with the lighter one. Trust me, you’re going to thank me after your 17 hour flight.
III. Easy as 1-2-3
T-shirts, denim, sneakers, and dressier shoes. Done, done, and done. Do I really need to say more here? Layering will be your best friend. Remember, it’s best to be prepared while also not overpacking. Number one rule though: don’t bring what you can’t buy at your destination (and vise versa).
IV. Studious Student
A backpack is essential for studying abroad, or wait for it — backpacking! This backpack that I found in a street shop in Korea has been extremely helpful due to its many compartments. Get something light and sturdy, so you’re not worrying about whether it’ll make it through your whole trip or not. Also, journaling is a personal favorite of mine when traveling or simply experiencing the big things in life! As Rupi Kaur says and I quote:
“Take your journals and paintings
Across the ocean when you leave
These will remind you who you are
When you get lost amid new cities
They will also remind your children
You had an entire life before them”
With packing out of the way, the next step is to get on that plane and head to your destination. Although it can be intimidating, I’ve learned from experience that you’re going to be out of your comfort zone, and that’s okay. Growth starts where comfort ends. If I hadn’t forced myself to learn the Taiwan metro or explore Seoul solo, I never would have had the chance to take these cool shots. Don’t be afraid of asking for directions or saying hello because even if there is a language barrier, there’s always someone who is willing to help.
When traveling, it may turn out to be not all you expected, but the people that you meet and the culture you immerse yourself in will surprise. The world is a beautiful place, and I’m glad we have the freedom to explore it. With that being said, I’d like to end with another quote in tribute to Anthony Bourdain.
He said and I quote:
“If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel as far and as wide as possible, sleep on floors if you have to! Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them wherever you go.” •
Sarah Tran is a junior Education major with a passion for kids and fashion. She has been modeling for Spark for two years and recently joined as a blogger. In her spare time, you can find her at a cafe getting lost in her thoughts or taking on the next big adventure.