Packing the perfect study abroad suitcase

I recently purchased my flight tickets to study abroad in Spain, and I was incredibly pumped as I imagined spending evenings sipping sangria and blowing up everyone’s Instagram feed with some fabulous pictures of my time in Madrid.

But then I was informed at a pre-departure meeting that I would most likely be allowed one suitcase outside of my carry-on, and I almost choked on the provided watered-down Aramark orange juice.

For starters, “packing lightly” doesn’t really exist in my vocabulary. I know what it means, and on all other trips I’ve mastered the ability to give the attendant a pleading look when my luggage goes over the fifty pound weight limit at check-in, but this will be different.

If I hadn’t been reminded that I will have to carry my luggage up stairs, across cities and maybe even countries, I might have ignored this advice, but that small amount of anticipated exertion was enough to make me consider this whole “packing light” business.

While I can’t imagine not having a suitcase dedicated to shoes alone, I also don’t want to pass out at the top of the stairs of my residence hall when I know I should have made better packing decisions.

Although the pre-departure meeting gave some general do’s and don’t’s for what to wear abroad, I decided to do some fashion research on my own. After skimming a mix of travel and fashion blogs it appears that some of my favorite things are a no-no in order to blend in with the  “madrileà±os.”

First off, apparently graphic T-shirts and anything sporting a large logo isn’t the European way, so apparently fashion bloggers from Europe don’t really count as “locals” to watch for what to wear (Chiara Ferragni, I’m looking at you). This means my potential wardrobe has just been cut in half, and now I will be shopping for solid-colored everything.

I’m also having trouble wrapping my mind around the minimal, comfortable walking shoes advice that everyone seems to be on board with.

Surely Spaniards will appreciate my carefully chosen ankle boots just as much as Americans, if not more so, right?

Apparently everyone else agrees that my feet won’t appreciate this even a little bit. And while it is smothering a piece of my soul to admit this, it looks like I will be leaving these behind in favor of something more functional.

Despite everyone else’s pleas to pack minimally and leave unnecessary items behind, I plan on attempting the rolling method, which basically involves rolling all of your clothes into the smallest form resembling a burrito and then hurriedly stuffing it into your bag.

I’m not quite sure how this is going to work with my shoes, or my hair straightener, but I’m determined to pack as many clothes as I can get away with.

To all others going abroad, I wish you the best with your packing endeavors. Hopefully my packing methods result in a semi-local resemblance because, as much as I love this country and appreciate all of the rights I have as a citizen of the United States, I do not want to be “that tourist.”

So perhaps it won’t be my carefully planned wardrobe that gives me away, but rather the act of taking a selfie at every interesting nook and cranny of Madrid.