So…. You’ve done it. You traveled somewhere new and unknown, you stretched outside of your comfort zone, you met new people and saw new places. You studied abroad! Sometimes, the hardest part of the journey is the fact that it has to come to an end. For some students, saying goodbye is hard, but the joy of returning home far outweighs their sadness. For others, departing a country that has become another home and saying farewell to the friends who have become your family is nearly unbearable, (I think you can guess which category I would put myself in). Regardless of how you feel at the end of your journey, here are 5 things to do before you come home.
- As your time starts to come to an end, make a list of the things you haven’t seen or done and make a plan to do and see those things! Often, students can get stuck in a “rut” while abroad. We tend to find comfort in familiarity, so we get into a routine and stick to it. Making a list of all the things you still want to do will keep you adventuring until your very last day abroad! Recruit your friends and put some dates down on the calendar. You’ll appreciate having a list as well as spending the extra time with your friends.
- Make a plan for your final night abroad. For me, this meant making a reservation for myself and some friends at our favorite Indian restaurant, taking in the views of London at night, and spending some last minute time together while I finished packing. Think of your favorite thing to do in your city, and do it! You’ll appreciate these memories later on.
- Find a charity or donation center to give some things away. If you’re anything like me, you’ll need to lighten your load a bit to get home under the weight limit! I had accumulated things like sheets, towels, pillows, a duvet, curtains, etc. that I didn’t need to bring home. I found a local donation box and gave all my things away. It felt much better than throwing them in the trash, and I didn’t have to worry about stuffing my suitcase with unnecessary items.
- Say your goodbyes. Whether you see them one at a time, or have a get together at the local pub for one last hoorah, it’s important that you tell your new friends goodbye. Make sure you have a way to contact them once you return home (WhatsApp is great for this). Share some memories and laughs before you head home. Having this time to hang out and laugh with my friends was the perfect way to say goodbye.
- Make peace with your journey. It may sound cliché, but this is perhaps the most important part of coming home. Whether you had the experience you had always dreamed of, or things didn’t quite go the way you thought they would; regardless of whether or not you saw everything you wanted to see or did everything you wanted to do, try to make peace with it. If you leave with no regrets, it won’t matter what you’re feeling as your plane takes off. You’ll be able to leave knowing that the experiences you had and the people you met will have changed your life forever.
Natalie is a senior at the University of Kentucky double majoring in Secondary English Education and English with a minor in Psychology. She studied abroad during her junior year in the beautiful London, England at King’s College.