By Mari-An Santos

I am in the midst of packing my life.

A few weeks ago, I shared the news with all of you that I was awarded a scholarship grant to take up my Masters abroad, specifically in Europe under the Erasmus Mundus program. After receiving the happy news, I thought that the toughest task I would have to do was to pack my bags. I was wrong. The process of obtaining a student visa isn’t exactly easy—and I even had to fly to another country to get the process going. Don’t ask.

Fortunately, things ironed themselves out and now here I am, on the verge of moving.

I look around at my room now. On one side, bags and suitcases are stacked, huddled together like an army in the trenches; in one corner,  almost-empty bookshelves and cabinets; and strewn all around are CDs, books, notebooks, brochures, and leaflets that have yet to be organized and categorized. But how do you pack up more than half a decade of memories?

The task of giving away some of the books, magazines, CDs, and clothes that would have added more weight to my already burgeoning luggage was close to Herculean. Clothes had to be categorized under the “yes,” “no,” and “maybe” piles.

The books were the hardest to go through. After setting aside the books that I had borrowed, which were to be returned to their rightful owners, I couldn’t bring myself to give away or even sell any of the books I had before me. My mother always says, “If you’ve already read them, why can’t we give them away?” But with a heavy heart, I eventually bid goodbye to a handful.

I also had to decide which brochures, maps, old flight and bus tickets, and calling cards I could throw out. The memories from each and every trip triggered by a scrap of paper or a notation on a map, made me hesitate every time. Calling cards, though years old, may prove useful later on. In the end, I decided to scale down the pile of cards and to have my maps and travel guides adopted by friends.

Looking around my room, I am impressed at how I managed to fit so many items into less than a dozen bags. I am also amazed at how much the human brain can recall. Though I have given away many things, the memories they conjure are vast and unlimited.

Wish me luck!

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