1.Make the most of the time you have left
You may only have a few weeks or days left so make the most of this time. Go to your favourite coffee shop, restaurant, park or bar one more time. Revisit your study abroad bucket list and tick off any thing you haven’t done yet – you never know when or if you’ll be back!
2.Catch up with friends before you go
Spend time with your friends, particularly if they’re from your host country. Make sure to get the contact details of those you want to stay in touch with, as well as any academics (they may come in handy later!).
3.Pack some memories
Mementos from your time abroad will bring back happy memories – but check what you can bring through customs first.
4.Get a copy of your transcript
Your home university will need a copy of your official transcript from your host university. Some will have online systems but you may need to pick up a hard copy, so make sure to check exactly what you need – and don’t forget to get one for yourself.
5.Prepare to leave
Make sure to give back any room keys, close bank accounts and end phone contracts and make sure you don’t leave any valuables behind!
6.Make plans for when you get back home
Fix plans with friends and family for when you get back as this will give you something to look forward to.
7.Take one more trip before you go (or two, or three)
If, like me, you’ve caught the travel bug, you’ll want to make the most of the possibilities to explore nearby countries (or continents) before you leave. So, make the most of the chance to take that trip you always wanted to the Lord of the Rings film set or visit the temples of Myanmar – or if you can’t decide, do both! Don’t forget to make sure you’re covered by insurance (the cover you took out for the year abroad may well have expired or not be valid) and find out if you need any jabs for where you are going.
8.Be prepared for reverse culture shock
It’s a real thing. Having left new friends behind, many students will find themselves going into final year without some of their old friends who have already graduated. Keep in touch with the friends you made from your home country, as they will also be re-adjusting. If the year abroad taught you anything, it’s that making new friends is not that hard – look at that list of contacts you have! If you really are having trouble settling back in, try talking to friends and family or your pastoral tutor.
9.Take stock of what you’ve learned
Your year abroad has made you more rounded, independent and resilient. I found it the most challenging so far, both personally and academically. I also felt I produced my best work and learned to think for myself.
10.Be happy it happened and look forward to the year ahead
As the saying goes, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened”. A year abroad is special precisely because it has an expiry date. It made me more aware of the wider world and what is important in my life. You’ve got one more year to go. Build on what you have learned about yourself, your academic capabilities and employability skills. You survived the year abroad. There’s nothing final year can throw at you that you can’t handle!