How to: Prep for the End of Study Abroad

Tags: Study Abroad,packing,Europe,coming home

Packing, last-minute exploring, saying goodbyes... so much to do in so little time! Here's some tips on getting ready to head home from a semester abroad: 


  • Ditch towels and hygiene products

    Your mom will be so happy you're home and love to make a Target run with you to buy some new $5 towels and the American hair products you were afraid to leave without in the first place. Same goes for over-the-counter meds. I promise you, there’s no shortage of Benadryl or DayQuil in the US right now.

  • Wash and donate your linens

    Talk to your local charity shop and find out what they accept. Seriously, your duvet cover is worthless at home, you’ve got $30 comforters at Target. And that shirt you didn’t wear all semester? Donate that too. If it’s stained, throw it out!

  • Two suitcases?

    Make sure you evenly distribute heavy and light stuff between two bags if you have them (I ended up with one 25kg bag and one 17kg, then had to totally repack them both).

  • Make use of your carry-on

    I know you don’t want to drag that through the airport, but if it’s heavy and not a liquid, put it in your carry-on. Nobody is going to weigh it, and your breakables are probably safer with you than if they’re checked. Just don’t be carelessly swinging it through the airport!

  • Ship rather than have overweight bags

    It’s definitely cheaper than paying $200 for one bag. If you're really overloadded, send over stuff you won’t need right away (like that winter coat) and have it shipped as slowly (and cheaply) as possible. Check with your school’s study abroad office for good companies. UPS was reliable for me when I shipped a box over.

  • Easy on the snacks

    Yes, you probably can’t find stroopwafels in your local supermarket, but if you’re anywhere near a big city, you’ll be able to find a more European-based store such as World Market. Aldi, Lidl, and other european retailers are also starting to pop up around the US. You’ll find your favorite snacks again, and fall in love all over.

  • Plan your souvenirs

    As much as you love your new city, you don’t need a mug, hat, hoodie, and stuffed animal all from one location. Pick one or two things you really want to bring home with you that are uniquely special to your experience.

  • Leave some items behind

    If it's 1) not expensive and 2) easy to get at home, consider getting rid of it to save yourself some space. You probably need to replace those two-year-old sneakers that you ran around Europe in anyway!


  • Close your local bank account (if applicable).
  • Spend those coins! You can’t convert them at home. Or, save them for your next adventure.
  • Make sure you do not pack anything you need into checked luggage. Medications and important documents should be kept in your carry-on
  • Leaving behind unnecessary belongings (e.g. laundry bins, binders, hair dryers with international plugs)? Don't throw those in the trash- check with your advisor or residence supervisor if there are other options such as donating. They've switched out students many times by now, and likely have tons of moving out tips, too.
  • Check what is and isn’t allowed back into the US (e.g. Cadbury eggs- those sweet candies are illegal in the states!)
  • Make sure you have contact info for all your new friends - you may have been texting on local phones and Whatsapp, so don't even have eachother's phone numbers yet!
  • Make sure you're all set with your accommodations. How do you need to turn in your keys? Do you owe the landlord money? Do they owe you money? How clean does your apartment need to be?
  • Ignore McDonalds until you’re stateside again. Fill up on the local foods while you still can!

Good luck and safe travels everyone! Don't cry yet- enjoy those last few days abroad!

Ren, WSA Student Intern


Alex Dornacker, Central College

Happy Backpackers

I had a blast visiting Prague for the first time with WSA. To start, the hostel that WSA booked for the tour was incredible. The entire staff was very helpful, the rooms were nice, and there was a really cool bar downstairs with live music every night. Our tour guide was top notch as well. He was really fun and flexible with whatever our group wanted to do while making sure we saw all of the major sights, good places to eat, as well as the night life! I thought this trip was much easier to book through WSA rather than figure it all out myself and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get the most out of their trip!

Alex Dornacker, Central College ~ Center of Modern Languages, Granada,, Fall 2015

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