In this week's post, Elizabeth shares some tips on how to prepare for the end of your semester abroad.
It is crazy to think about how three months ago I was writing a blog about how to adjust to being abroad for the first time. Now my last week has come and I cannot believe how fast time has flown. The last of the weekend trips has come to an end and the realization of the plane departure date is drawing near. The last few weeks of studying abroad can be exciting but also extremely busy. Here are a few tips on how to prepare for the end of your semester abroad.
Sunset from my dorm window
1. Start Packing Early
Yes, this is the number one advice... again. I am writing this while staring at my suitcases knowing that I should have started this process a little sooner. Although the bags may seem symbolic to ‘the end is near,’ it is important to at least think about the packing process a couple weeks out. Start by thinking about what you are going to pack and what you can leave behind. You can save space in your suitcase by leaving items that you bought at your abroad location or items you can buy when you return home. Save the spot where you were going to put your shampoo for a nice piece of art or t-shirt from your local city. Keep your eyes out and talk to your study abroad provider about donation areas for any items or clothing you won’t be bringing with you. If you can’t use it next semester, there is someone who can! The earlier you start to at least think about the packing process, the less daunting the task will actually be. To cheer yourself up while packing, throw on some music, open your door, and have a packing party with your friends!
2. Finish Up Your Assignments
The last few weeks will be when reality comes and all your assignments are due. Yes, it is the same as your home university. All the finals and assignments will start to pile up and become overwhelming. To destress your final few weeks abroad, get a start on your final assignments early so you can enjoy the last days in your new favorite country.
Finishing up those last assignments
3. Check Off Your Bucket List
Between final travel plans, finals, and packing, don’t forget to finish your semester bucket list. Use the last few days to explore and do everything you wanted to do in your study abroad city. Whether it is going to a coffee shop you pass every day, picking up those final gifts for back home, or walking through your favorite park for the last time, make time to finish everything on your semester bucket list. My friends and I spent our last weekend doing a nature walk from Bray to Greystone that had been on our ‘To Do’ list since our first week in Dublin. The walk was beautiful and a relaxing way to finish our last weekend in Dublin. Make a little list a few weeks from your departure date to make sure you don’t leave thinking “Wow, I wish I…!”
Cliffwalk from Bray to Greystones
Before you know it, the last few weeks of your semester will become a blur and you will only have a few days left. Even though you are going to want to do everything at once, do not forget to take a moment to reflect on your entire semester. Think about all the friends and connections you have made while remembering all the memories you have created over the past three months. Take a deep breath a reflect on all the incredible opportunities you have had this semester. It will help with any anxious feeling you might be having.
Reflecting on my semester abroad
5. Say Goodbye
This is easier said than done. How do you have only one more delicious chai latte from Noshingtons (or your favorite coffee shop)? How do you say goodbye to the city you now call your home? How do you say thank you to your friends for all of the amazing memories you made over the last semester? This is the most difficult part of preparing for the end of the semester because you never thought time would fly this fast. The best thing to do is take a minute to slow down and enjoy every minute of your last few days. Treat yourself to your favorite donut shop with your friends and cherish every last moment. Don’t forget to thank the people who helped throughout the entire study abroad process!
Saying 'goodbye' is the hardest part
These last few weeks will fly by before you know it. Soon it will be time for your study abroad chapter to come to an end, but luckily you will always be able to take the book back off the shelf and remember the amazing memories from the past three months. The only way to truly prepare for the semester to come to an end, is to embrace every moment and cherish the connections and memories you have made along the way.
Elizabeth's journey continues every Tuesday so stay tuned.