Packing to Study Abroad: Edinburgh 2007


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or How I Met Steph…

Any college junior preparing to go abroad can tell you that the hardest part of going abroad is packing to go abroad. You have to fit four months worth of clothes, shoes, books (the fun kind of course), and little knick-knacks to remind you of home into two 40 lbs. suitcases.*  I opted for the “whimsical I’ll just pack whatever feels right and I’m sure I’ll be okay” option. The most essential and important being a set of green stripped and pink flamingo speckled bed sheets.This as you may have already suspected got quite a raised eyebrow from the parental units as I privileged sheets over wellies. I mean sure it rains in Scotland, but tropical sheets will definitely help in the case of torrential downpour.

Now it’s important to know that while I was packing, my best friend Casey was also getting ready for her Fall Study Abroad in Edinburgh. Before we left, we very maturely made a pact that we would not see each other for a month so that we would be forced to make new friends and not rely on our trusty friendship. That of course, lasted all of two hours into my Scotland arrival before I called Casey to come and get dinner with me. At the time, I blissfully rationalized that we had to see each other because I had very conveniently sprained my ankle days before coming to Scotland, and needed Casey’s help to get around, and not because I was new in a strange city. After the first weekend of co-dependence, Casey and I made a second pact that as soon as we moved into our school year residences, we would spend less time together. So after Casey lugged both my 40 lbs** suitcases up 9 flights of stairs, we bid adieu.

My residence was the stately 245 self-catered flat called Kincaid’s Court.  Stately in the prison-sense since my flat was on the 9th floor of the no-elevator building, aka the ultimate work-out. The flat itself was pretty simple- 12 individual rooms with a shared kitchen and living room. As I settled into my room, I pondered about my future roommates. 12 individual rooms meant that I would get 11 new roommates, and potentially 11 new friends. Hours after I packed and had gone-back-and-forth before calling up Casey, I heard my roommates gathering in the hall outside my room.

There were about five girls standing awkwardly in a semi-circle, introducing ourselves, and establishing that none of our roommates seems to be, well, Scottish. Not only that we realized that we were pretty much all Americans, except the token Norwegian, Slovakian and German.  Go figure.

Desperate for some human contact, I asked whether or not anyone was interested in going to the “Welcome Freshers Pub Crawl” that I had seen posted on the door to our building. One by one each girl declined, citing that they had arrived 4 days before for a American Students orientation and they were knackered. With each no, I began to panic. Just a few hours before, I had promised Casey that we’d meet up in a month. But I couldn’t go a month without normal human beings who wanted to go out.*** Finally we came to the last girl, dressed in bright turquoise, who said “Ya, I’m going.” Now she also mentioned that she was going to meet up with some people from her school— but I pretty much stopped listening after she agreed to go and I established I wouldn’t be in social purgatory for the next few months.  We agreed to meet at my room at 8pm and head down to the courtyard together. So I shuffled back to my room and continued to unpack with a little spring in my set.

At precisely 8, Steph knocked on my open door. She took a quick glance at my room, let out a little “oh my god,” gesturing (gesticulating even) at my bed and prompted me to follow her back to her room. “You have to see this” she exclaimed.

Concerned about the mental status of my new friend, I followed but maybe at a couple paces behind. We walked the four doors down, opened her door, where I saw….


Yes, both Steph and I without knowing each other, had both decided that we had to pack the same tropical sheets despite the two suitcase limit. Both of our mothers gave us the same look of begrudging “you are my daughter so I love you, but you are crazy” look. Both of us were awesome.

Now after that, how can you not be best friends.

The Magical Sheets in all their glory
The Magical Sheets in all their glory


* When I traveled abroad you were still allowed to bring two suitcases without extra baggage fees. In 2013, I feel nostalgic for the days. I mean, how is that even possible.

** Yes, you read that correctly. There is a reason I think that Casey is so awesome.

*** I acknowledge that I have the tendency to be a bit dramatic with first impressions. My roommates were all very lovely people, except Rupert. Rupert hated me with a passion, but still saved me from being run over by a bus, so I guess that’s okay.

Post Script: I wrote this in honor of Steph’s birthday today, November 3. We have recounted this story to many people, and while we have gotten some epic judgement (particularly from two unnamed chilled out friends told us the meta “it wasn’t how they met but why they met” story of how they met and then judged us for our matching sheet story), I think it was a great start to our friendship. Matching sheets, general ridiculous, overdramatic reactions. As you have seen in my countless “so my bff Steph and I” stories, we have had so many adventures together and I can’t wait for the next wander with my partner in crime. 

One response to “Packing to Study Abroad: Edinburgh 2007”

  1. Wander with Steph Jones of Remote Rhode – aheli wanders.

    […] miles from our homes, carrying the same awesome (some people may say ridiculous) green and pink flamingo sheets, conquered creepy hostels, chased old ladies for lapin recipes and have wandered through ten […]

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