"Does the apartment come with sheets?"
As I frantically type these words on my iPhone keyboard and press send, I'm confident my roommates won't know the answer either.
Renting an Airbnb apartment halfway across the world doesn't come with step-by-step directions. And, unsurprisingly, many of the reviews aren't in English.
Sure, we know the location and have some pictures of the beige-colored walls, but the details aren't in the fine print. So the sheet question is a hot topic. I've never been a sheet snob who focuses her energy on thread counts, but nothing compares to a comfy bed.
This isn't a groundbreaking revelation. Almost everyone thinks their bed was handcrafted with the finest feathers from angels above. An exaggeration? Definitely, but when you think about beds, you can start to understand the emotional connection a lot of us have.
Every morning starts the same -- you open up your eyes and begin the day. Where does this ritual begin? Between a set of sheets, whether they be wool and warm or linen and light.
When I was in preschool, "Sorry, I must have woken up on the wrong side of the bed" was my go-to phrase. To this day, I don't know where I first heard the saying, but it made perfect sense to me at the time. The eruption of little giggles made me feel like the class comedian, and it excused some rude behavior.
Refused to share a toy? Sorry, woke up on the wrong side of the bed.
Ate a friend's Oreo from their lunch box? Sorry, woke up on the wrong side of the bed today.
The excuse some of its power over time, but it's stayed with me for years. Before coming to college, I had slept in the same queen-sized bed for 15 years almost every night.
When you've spent that much time with something, you're bound to have an emotional connection.
That bed is where my dad recounted endless "Gilligan's Island" episodes before I fell asleep, the sight of my first sleepovers, my "desk" for late night study sessions and, of course, a giant tissue to catch all my breakup tears.
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That bed and I have been through it all together and I knew that freshman year would provide some long nights if I didn't find a suitable replacement.
So my mom and I headed over to the toiletry Mecca of Bed Bath & Beyond to get all the essentials: a foam pad, soft sheets, a wool blanket and a pillow that would mold to the shape of my head.
To my surprise and satisfaction, the trick worked.
My tiny twin bed actually felt like the one at home, and I automatically felt more at ease after my parents pulled away on move-in day. Now, fast-forward two years later, and I have to do it all over again.
But this time, Bed Bath & Beyond can't help me.
Studying abroad in Barcelona for four months means the packing is going to be selective.
Full sets of sheets, mattress pads and pillows aren't going to fit in the overhead compartment, no matter how hard I try to stuff it all in. So I have to rely on what's already there, which may not seem like a big deal, but it's just another part of the unknown that comes with studying abroad.
I've realized that practically everything about studying abroad includes this unknown, no matter how prepared you are before departure.
Reading extensive travel blogs, packing three weeks in advance and even bringing your own sheets can't ease all your worries. They are a valuable part of the experience.
Leaving home, let alone your native country, is challenging and requires a lot of faith in yourself and the world around you. This faith isn't easy to come by, but taking baby steps toward independence can make it more manageable.
The sheets may not be what I am accustomed to, but I can be sure that each morning will start the same -- in my bed.
It's a small piece of comfort before I move on to the next worry: hangers.