The Suitcase

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ImageWritten by Katie Wells, YES Abroad ’13, Bosnia and Herzegovina

And thus it begins the daunting task of packing the suitcase, carry-on, and backpack to head home after spending ten months in one place. Looking at all of my things, I thought before that it would be easy – kind of like adult Tetris.  Let’s be clear: it’s worse!  I’ve probably rearranged my suitcase five times right now, deciding I don’t need that top or maybe this book could squeeze in this corner. Once again my room is a disaster of laying out outfits for my last three days here and slowly things are disappearing off my shelves. My suitcase isn’t even completely full and I know it’s going to be super overweight. My mom even took one of my suitcases back with all my winter stuff! How on earth did I acquire so much stuff over this year?

Packing I usually always save until the very last moment. Before I came here I packed everything the day before I left and I planned on doing the same thing this time round. But once [YES Abroad Bosnia student] Anna convinced me I should start early, I did so, setting on the task of filling my suitcase to the brim.  And oh is it filled. How can such little things take up so much room!? My shoes aren’t even in there yet and I’m running out of space!

Maybe one of the reasons I’m so stressed about my suitcase isn’t just the fact that it’s really difficult to fit all those things in one. It’s the fact that starting the suitcase task means that this year really is over. I have three days left here–three. Tomorrow is the beginning of good byes at school and then dinner at a friend’s house. Saturday is finishing gift shopping and then barbecue at Anna’s house, followed by Swiss night at a friend from church’s house. Sunday is my last day at church and my last full day in Sarajevo.  And that thought is depressing!

I’ve had such an incredible year here and I think the reason I’m hating packing up my suitcase is because it feels like I’m also packing up memories. I don’t care how terribly cliché that sounds or how corny, it’s true. Slowly I am packing away the life I’ve built here and carefully taking it apart and shoving it into a bag. I don’t like looking at my empty drawers in my desk, or the bare shelves with no books or letters, or the vacant wardrobe. It simply reminds me that the life I’ve formed here is coming to a close and soon I’ll be back on a plane back to Oregon and have to readjust to being a normal American teenager who just graduated.

My suitcase now lies mostly full in the corner of my bedroom, waiting to be finished, zipped closed, and hauled on a plane, similar to me and my exchange. And once I hit American soil, I’ll have that bit of Bosnia in me and I’ll get to rip it open and share it, just like my suitcase carrying all my Bosnian trinkets and memories.

Yes, it’s sad I’m going home. I’ve established myself here and I’ll miss it so much I can’t even begin to fully describe.  However, I’m excited to see where life takes me now:




So here we go. Finishing up the best year of my life, my last year of high school spent in Sarajevo. Bilo je odlično i hvala puno svima koji su mi pomogli ove godine.*


*It was excellent and thank you so much to everyone who helped me this year.