So, the moment you’ve been dreading has finally arrived. You’re about to wrap up your finals and your flight back to the good ole US of A is only a few days away. Make sure you’re prepared as you wrap up your time abroad with the 8 things to do before heading back home.
1. Wrap up your networking
You’ve met a lot of people during your time abroad– friends, professors, co-workers, bartenders, and more. Get contact information of the people you’d like to keep in touch with, both for friendship and for personal networking. You may find yourself wanting to move back to your study abroad city after graduation and will need a job, or a friend may pass through the city during his travels and need a place to stay, and you’ll want to see if your local friend still has that comfy couch you often woke up on after a foggy night out. Having Facebook contact information or email addresses helps keeping in touch very easy, and you never know when you may need it.
2. Eat your last meals
Hit up your favorite food spots for the last time and indulge in the meals that you’ll miss when you’re back home. Chances are, you won’t be able to find the local specialties in the US that you’ve come to love during your time abroad, so take this opportunity to stuff your face silly.
3. Grab some gifts for Mom and Dad
Your parents probably helped you out with more than just money while you were abroad. Pick up some gifts that they wouldn’t be able to get in the states– it’s the least you can do! Think leather from Florence, chocolate from Belgium, spices from Morocco…
4. Do a wardrobe overhaul
Over the past few months, you’ve acquired new clothes, odd souvenirs, shot glasses from every city you visited, and countless pub crawl T-shirts. Unless you packed light on the way to your abroad city, all of this new stuff won’t fit in your suitcase with the rest of your belongings. Take this opportunity to overhaul your wardrobe — if you haven’t worn it more than twice this semester, it has cranberry vodka stains on it that just won’t come out, or you’ve worn it so many times that you can’t even look at it anymore, donate or toss it.
5. Stock up on your favorite things
If you think that your new highly-cultured self just won’t be able to handle Americanized pesto sauce or any other packaged specialities from your abroad country, bring some of the good stuff back to the states with you. Just be sure to wrap everything up well to avoid broken glass or spilled liquids, and check with your program advisor on what you are legally allowed to bring back to the US.
6. Weigh your packed luggage
This just might be the most important piece of advice on our list– overweight bags can mean hundreds of dollars in fees or even a missed flight if it takes you too long to rearrange weight distribution (yeah– it DOES happen). So be ahead of the game and weigh everything (including your carry-ons) before heading to the airport. If you don’t have a scale, see if you can pick up a luggage scale.
7. Stop and smell the roses
Take a break from the end-of-semester mayhem and head to your favorite spot in the city. Gather your friends and take in the views, people watch, and reminisce about your best and worst experiences over the past few months. Let it all soak in and enjoy your last moments in this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
8. Prepare for reverse culture shock
So you went through culture shock when you arrived to your study abroad destination, but are you ready for reverse culture shock? When you arrive back in the US, you may feel… less than thrilled. You’ll miss your study abroad friends, the foods you loved, the beautiful things you’d see every day while walking down the street to class. Brace for impact and check out our guide on how to deal with reverse culture shock.