Oberlin Blogs

Stacks on stacks on stacks, of stuff.

September 5, 2011

Chinwe Okona ’13

Looking back on my life, I think I can attribute my terrible packing skills to going on vacation with my family at a very young age. Because my brothers and I were all pretty close in size and in age at one time, all of our clothes went into one suitcase and we absolutely did not get options. My mom was good, she knew all of my favorite outfits; and, since my brothers are only twenty months apart, sometimes she pulled the twins card with them. This lasted well into my middle school years. Then, we progressed to a point where I would pick out my own outfits, but Mom always did the hard work of fitting it all into one suitcase.

The first time I packed my own suitcase, I was probably about fifteen years old. And by suitcase, I mean duffel bag. I should explain that traveling with my family is a little like traveling with a pack of wolves, so none of our vacations are ever too long (for sanity's sake, clearly). As much as I would like to give myself credit for packing my own duffel bag, packing for a few days in a very small bag really isn't that hard. I hate to admit it, but at fifteen years old I was still without packing skills.

Upon graduating from high school, I had no idea that all those years of my mother packing for me were about to bite me in the behind in a major kind of way. To me, college is all about living out of a suitcase/always being very much on the go. You change living spaces every year, you visit home for limited periods of time, and you travel a lot. This was all pretty new for me. I've lived with both my parents in three states, in four different houses, all south of the Mason-Dixon Line (way south of the Mason-Dixon Line). We definitely moved enough so that life was interesting, but I never felt as a kid that there wasn't a serious sense of stability in my life.

I wouldn't say I'm an excessive person, but the fact that I never had to move around too much has allowed me to acquire an impressive amount of stuff (clothing in particular). My biggest mistake upon matriculating at Oberlin was the amount of clothing I brought with me from Florida. This issue continues to haunt me because, considering I live so far away from Oberlin, everything that I brought here on that initial nineteen-hour drive has remained here over the past two years (at the end of every school year I haul my stuff to a storage unit, which I highly recommend).

In addition to initially having an excessive amount of t-shirts, I have also acquired another entire Ohio wardrobe during my first semester of college. I must say, to be fair, the weather is mostly to blame. Although I brought a full wardrobe with me to school, it consisted mostly of shorts and Rainbow sandals (we don't believe in winter in Florida). Come October, I was frantically calling my parents and asking for an increased stipend so I could get some wool socks and such. Two years later, I have winter clothes...and a wardrobe twice as big.

Having so much clothing creates problems when it comes to traveling. Let's do some basic statistics: the more clothing one person possesses, the probability of them narrowing a suitcase down to the essentials/favorites when packing for a trip is slim to none. This is a known fact. Things get tricky for me when I leave Oberlin, considering I usually leave for substantial amounts of time (three weeks for Winter Term, ten weeks for summer, etc.). I try not to think of myself as an "overpacker," I just think it's important to have options. Fitting all those options into a fifty-pound suitcase just gets really tricky sometimes.

After my freshman year I spent my entire summer in San Francisco. At the end of the semester, I arrived at the Cleveland airport ready to fly across the country with a suitcase twenty-four pounds overweight. What a disaster. This past summer I did a much, much better job of being practical with my packing. I'm very proud to say my suitcase weighed about the same flying home at the beginning of the summer as it did a few weeks ago when I returned to Oberlin. Go me.

Although I'm slowly learning how to navigate this packing thing, I definitely still have too much stuff in Oberlin. But thanks to the class of 2015 and first year move-in day, I'm feeling much better about my personal situation. On first year move-in day, the varsity sports teams helped moved new students into their rooms. Welcome to Oberlin 2015, we're so happy to have you! But man, do you all have a lot of stuff. Suitcases, bikes, storage bins, boxes, I even saw someone move in their own bookcase. Perhaps, a substantial part of freshman year is bringing a ridiculous amount of stuff. I guess that's what free boxes/The Free Store/The Big Swap are for. Therefore, I rest my case.

Finish unpacking, Obies, and get some sleep tonight. Kiss your summer goodbye and get ready for the school year. It's going to be hella good.

Postscript - I tried to delay publishing this entry until I was done unpacking. I've been on campus since August 16th and I'm finally publishing this baby the day before classes start. How long did it take me to unpack? Do the math.

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