How to: Prep for the End of Study Abroad
RE-PACK YOUR BAGS
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!
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!
I went to Rome with a few of my friends. Before we got there, our tour guide, Rhianne, sent us plenty of information regarding how to arrive at the hostel, and what our Itinerary would be like. She also made it a point to meet up with people the night before if their flight got in early so students would have something to do. Having a tour guide that lived in the city was amazing. It made me not have to stress about getting lost, and provided many opportunities to eat at the best restaurants, and, most importantly, the best Gelato places. By the end of the tour, I was good friends with each of the 14 members of the tour group, including our tour guide. I definitely recommend taking a tour through WSA because the guides make you feel like they actually care about each person on the trip. I knew that I could just relax, and enjoy my trip.Kyle Cook, Lebanon Valley College ~ Kingston University, London, Fall 2015
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