Whether you are doing a year-long or a semester program, the halfway point makes things a little bit trickier as you try to balance midterm school work and free time. Unfortunately, study abroad does not last forever, and before you know it, you will be boarding the flight to return home. It seems like each week passes faster and faster, leaving you with less and less to time to do all the things you had planned on doing. Here are some tips as to how you can fully enjoy your last few months abroad.
1.Make a list of the things you want to do.
If you didn’t do so from the start, making a list of the things you still haven’t done, or the goals you would like to achieve before coming home, is a great way to help plan your schedule for the last few months. This will keep you from forgetting anything you were waiting to do and enable you to organize those activities throughout the following weeks. In reality, a semester or even a year is very little time to get to know a certain culture or country.
2. Get to know as much as possible.
During your time abroad, you will not get to see and do everything, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Put an effort into really knowing and understanding your host city and country. Both while you are there, and when you come back, you will appreciate having this knowledge. It can also help you out when it comes to safety. Once you understand how the city works, you will know which areas to stay away from at certain times, and which places are just best to avoid entirely. Don’t let safety confine you to one place. Yes, it is important to be cautious, but there are numerous hole-in-the-wall places to discover and you will not find them if you do not explore.
3. Don’t hesitate on plans.
At this point in your semester, time is definitely valuable. Don’t put things off for later, because there may not be a later. This works for both schoolwork and outside activities. Do everything as soon as possible, otherwise you might leave having regrets about not seeing a certain museum or going on certain excursion. If the thought of doing something alone is holding you back, don’t be scared to go outside of your comfort zone and do activities with other students you may not know. Often times, other exchange students are in the same boat. This is a great way to meet new people and make more friends. Last but definitely not least, keep in mind that final projects and exams will arrive before you know it. The sooner you prepare or finish them, the more time you have to do other things. You don’t want to spend your last couple of nights abroad inside writing that paper you left for the last minute.
4. Make time for goodbyes.
One of the hardest parts about studying abroad is leaving your friends and memories behind. Towards the end of the program, things tend to get hectic, leaving you frantically studying, packing, and trying to still have a social life. If you didn’t already, set some time aside to say goodbye. Whether that be having dinner one last time in your favorite restaurant or hanging out in your favorite part of the city with your friends, goodbyes are something you won’t want to miss. They are essentially your last opportunities to do something you love or see people you care about.
5. Home plans/Contact
I know it may seem a little early to be thinking about returning home, but as it nears, there are steps you can take to make the transition home a little easier. Once home, some students have a hard time adjusting to what has been named “reverse culture shock.” They have a hard time readjusting to their former homes after having been away on such an exciting program. At home, there may not be as much excitement while abroad, but by making plans before coming home, you can keep yourself from getting bored too fast. Your friends and family will all be waiting eagerly to hear about your experience, so making return plans can be a great way of keeping busy and catching up. Your abroad experience may be over once you leave, but it is something that will stay with you forever.