If your semester studying abroad was anything like mine, it went WAY too fast! Although my semester came to a close as of last week, here are some tips that I think you’ll find helpful for when you’re preparing to depart from your city.
Take as many pictures as possible! — This may definitely seem like a no-brainer to many students studying abroad. Sure, I bet you have tons of pictures of the famous cultural destinations in your country, however, the things that you are going to miss the most probably are going to be the things that you encounter in your everyday life. How many pictures do you have of those? Document the things you encounter everyday: the bakery where you buy your breakfast, the cafe right next to your dorm, your room in your host-families house, etc. These are also especially helpful in giving your family and friends an idea about what your life was like while abroad.
Start packing well in advance — and this may not necessarily mean putting your stuff in bag. It can be helpful to make a list of the things that you need to pack that are ABSOLUTELY essential and a list of the things that can be left behind (because if you’re anything like me, chances are you’ve bought more than you can take back) prior to even beginning to pack. That way, when you’ve started preparing your luggage, theres no debating as to what things you really need to take back and what things you really don’t.
Make time for the things that are really important — Don’t spend so much time studying for finals that you have to miss out on the last big dinner with your classmates, or spend your last few days holed up in your room instead of seeing those few cultural attractions that you’ve been dying to see for the whole semester. I’m not advocating that you don’t spend time studying, but pace yourself and manage your time! Better to study and do your homework right after class so that you have the evening free rather than pulling an all-nighter the day most of your friends go out for one last hurrah in your city.
Do some of your favorite things in the city that you can’t do back home! Go to your favorite bubble tea spot, get your favorite street food, go one last time to your favorite market. Leave your city with the best memories you can.
Good luck to all semester students finishing up their finals and preparing to return home and to all the year long students, such as myself, 加油！！
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Alexis Cobau is a Junior at the University of Michigan, majoring in Chinese and International Studies with a concentration in International security, cooperation and norms. She is excited to be returning to China for the first time since her original foray into study abroad in Harbin, China on an NSLI-Y State Department scholarship as a rising senior in High School. This will be her sixth year studying Chinese and she can't wait to spend it exploring Beijing. When not practicing her Chinese characters and tones, Alexis enjoys reading, writing, drawing and cooking.</span></p>