Packing up every material good you will need for an entire semester into one large suitcase and a carry-on is stressful. To approach the problem, I made a color-coordinated spreadsheet that masterminded every outfit combination I could make with my given inputs. Needless to say, there was little room for room decorations. My“Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812” poster featuring Josh Groban had to be left behind in Medford. To fill my empty flat, I brought pictures of pets and friends. As I’ve traveled to different countries, postcards have been added to the collage.
Postcards have always had a special place in my heart. My grandparents took advantage of traveling during their retirement and sent my family hundreds of postcards over the years. We have a shoebox dedicated to our collection. In elementary school, I remember digging through the mail and reading postcard after postcard of places I had only read about and had no plans of visiting.
Just over a year ago, I was asked to name an item on my bucket list. I responded that I wanted to travel to Europe and proceeded to have a bit of an existential crisis because I realized that I would have that opportunity very soon through study abroad (to cure the existential crisis, I resolved that a bigger bucket list item would be going to the moon). Now I find myself in Europe, collecting postcards to paste on my walls and pass out to friends and family upon my return.
I enjoy the little things in life and creating a sense of home falls into that category. Right now, the only materials I have are postcards. I wouldn’t say I’m feeling homesick (the culture shock between Wisconsin and Massachusetts was far greater than the U.S. and U.K.), but I miss my essential oil diffuser, bulb lights and quilt that my grandmother (on the other side of the family) made for me.
I love home goods. I’ve gone absolutely feral when ordinary things are in museums. Jewelry? Glazed pots? Pianos? Gowns? Seeing the objects that the average individual, the average woman, interacted with throughout history scratches an itch I didn’t know needed to be scratched. My Medieval London class held a “handling session” in the Museum of London this Tuesday. We passed around trays of ceramics and leather: the objects of the common people predating Shakespeare. The expensive pieces were kept behind the glass, of course.
Traversing cities across Europe has brought me to many museums. While one does not have to attend museums when visiting cities, I have found much value in learning about the history of the place I am in. From Barcelona’s Picasso Museum to London’s theatre scene, I’ve experienced so much art and culture over the last six weeks. I now have opinions on museum curation and museum labels. I like the art and history of the mundane the most. Even this far away from home, I think that’s the Midwest emo streak peaking through.