How to Pack for College

Sandy Toes
Sandy toes are now a thing of my past…

Here’s the thing: I hate packing. I hate the finality of my possessions being boxed up and put away. I hate the either/or game I am forced to play with each new item. I hate having to break down everything I own into two suitcases that must weigh no more than fifty pounds. But mostly, I hate what these things all signal: my time at home is coming to an end.

To make matters worse, and because I love to put things off until the very last minute, I generally start packing a day or two before I leave. I have clothes strewn across every couch, chair, and stool, my suitcases are empty, and I have music blaring in the background in an effort to drown out my dramatic thoughts.

Mom's Packing Fun
Always remember to pack your mother…

It never works. Usually, it ends with me crying in the middle of the living room until my mother steps in with a giant hug and says, “It’s all right, Katie.”

This time though, there’s something different. I started packing early to avoid the usual chaos. I made a list of things that go back, things that stay, and even things to buy. I promised myself that there was no reason to panic. But mostly, this time, more than any of the others, I don’t mind packing.

Bridging the Gap
“Hey there!”

When I leave home, I have somewhere to go back to. I have people and places that I can’t wait to see. This time, I’m not flying into the unknown.

Welcome Home Saints 2018
I left one home to return to another…

I’m a college sophomore this year, and I don’t pretend to know all of the answers, but I do know some. I know the cafeteria schedule, I know my classes, and I know something else that is very important: I’m not alone.

For one, I know that everyone at Saint Martin’s is supporting me on my adventure. Each student has each other’s back, and as cheesy as it sounds, we really are in this together. Professors and faculty members wish to see students succeed, and so they too become an integral part of our journeys. Families far and wide are also rooting for each and every one of us. This outpouring of love is what keeps me going when I’m away from home. But there’s another type of support that I’m feeding off of more than ever…

Freckles Baby
“Don’t go Mommy!”

You could say that teaching is my natural calling. After all, I was only five when my parents started walking in on me conducting reading lessons with my dolls in the living room. But teaching is about more than just lessons and drills. Being a teacher means caring for your students, body, mind, and soul. It means being a provider of what I believe to be a most basic human right: education. And I’ve never been more motivated to pursue this career path than now.

Katie's Sisters
Snack time was an important part of our school day…

This summer, I worked for Maui County Summer PALS as a Leader. I was charged with an average of 15 children per day, and though I often went home exhausted, I absolutely loved it. Now, I have a list of children who are wishing and hoping they make it into my classroom in the future, and boy, is the pressure on. I also have a band of high school students who are holding up signs of encouragement from my volunteer work at my old high school. They too, were ecstatic when I told them that I wanted to become an educator.

In total, I have an army of people who are behind and in front of me, cheering me on, wishing me well, and standing at the finish line while I run the race of my education. And I do this all so I may turn around at the end of my race and encourage others on their own. To some, this may be daunting, but to me, it is the very thought that is accompanying me back home to Saint Martin’s.

Sunsets Over the Ocean
“Off to another adventure!”

Smile! 2018
Don’t forget to pack a smile…

So yes, when one is packing, one must pack more than just a suitcase… Clothes and keepsakes can only get you so far, and so, you must also pack your mind. Stow away all the well-wishes, the good times, and the laughs, and keep them close. Time at home is precious, so do not forget it, but at the same time, do not lose sight of the future. Each time I come home, I return as a new, better version of myself. I have learned not just to speak for myself, but to speak for others. I have learned determination the likes of which I’ve never known before. I have learned kindness in ways that I cannot convey without becoming emotional. All of these things from Saint Martin’s. All of these things that multiply each time I pack up my things and move back to Lacey for another semester. All of these things that keep me going each time I want to give up and throw in the towel.

For all those at Saint Martin’s University, fellow students running the race with me, faculty and family members cheering us on; for those at home, my own family, my kiddos far and wide, everyone who put an ounce of belief in me; for everyone reading this as I start my sophomore year at Saint Martin’s. I want you all to know that I’m packing away a piece of your spirit and taking it with me wherever I go. You are what keeps me going. You are the reason why, a year after I started, I am committed to seeing this thing called college through. It may be hard, it may be messy, but this time, I am ready.

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