Two Times Twenty Three Kilograms

Two times twenty three kilograms. Does it ring a bell?  If your international flight is in an economy class, that would likely be the total weight of your baggage allowance. And if you’re an international student going abroad for at least 2 years, it can be a big challenge to pack all of the things that you think you’re going to need and still meet this baggage requirement.

Of course, how challenging it is will depend on how much money that you have. I have a friend who managed not to carry much from our home country Indonesia, as he already planned to buy things in the Netherlands. Lucky for him. I had to pack as much as I can because I figured that things would be much more expensive in the Netherlands. I guess most of us whose studies is funded by a scholarship also face the same predicament. We can’t afford to shop, so we better bring things from home!

I have another friend, however, who has no intention to shop but was happy with his one baggage, weighing waaaaay under the airline’s baggage allowance per person.  He has all the things that he needs;  jeans, shirts, even a winter jacket… but they all fit nicely into one 25-inch bag! Like you and me, he doesn’t have Hermione’s magic clutch. It was possible because he’s such a minimalist (without calling himself one).

With less stuff, he has less hassle compared to the rest of us. Some of my friends with excess baggage had to quickly unpack their baggage, throw something out, and repack it again in the airport! Imagine how hectic and stressful. While I didn’t have to do it, I still have my own problems as well. I had two luggage, a heavy backpack, and a small bag where I kept all my traveling documents. If it weren’t because of the help of other people, I don’t know how I would be able to carry all of my belongings going up and down the train and trams. I still feel bad when I think about it. It’s like counting on strangers’ help.

So how can we avoid all these troubles? I know it’s easier said than done, but we really need to think minimalist. When we pack, everything may seem to be important that we want to carry them all. That’s because we can only play a guessing game about how our life is going to be in the new place. We feel the need to bring those books in case we need it for the research paper, that scarf from grandma in case we miss home, and so on. But really… we have to prioritize. At least try to keep it under the weight limit.

We also need to stay as a minimalist throughout our study period. It’s hard when you’re one of the people with a strong urge to shop, but you want to avoid accumulating more stuffs. Remember, two years is not a long time (believe me!). Suddenly you’ll have to repack everything and guess what? Again, they all have to be under 46 kilograms! This time the packing will be even more challenging because you’ll have your things you’ve brought from home and the things that you’ve bought in the Netherlands. Not to mention all the books and souvenirs!

It’s true that you can always give away your stuff to new students or to the thrift stores. Or if you want, you can have them shipped to your home country. But it won’t be cheap and both scenarios will require a lot of sorting and packing which is a very time consuming activity. And you won’t have much time! You’ll be busy with last minute traveling and farewell parties.

We have no choice but to think minimalist. It is not a fancy lifestyle, a kind of obsession, nor a religion. It’s a skill that we need to have as an international student, as a global nomad. Remember, all you have is two times twenty three kilograms!

Bon voyage!

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