Tips For Leaving

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Kees Lynch
June 2, 2024

Your last few weeks abroad are nothing less than hectic. For some reason, IES Abroad quite disappointingly sends you home right around the day of your last exam; I had to turn in an essay on my last full day. So, you are studying for exams, packing up all your belongings, and saying goodbye to the great friends you made and the city you came to call home all within the same week or so. It really would benefit the students if IES Abroad changed this, allowing for another week after exams to say goodbye and allow ample time for packing. Given this unfortunate IES Abroad calendar, here is my advice on how to prepare and mentally handle your last few weeks.

In terms of exams, the number one thing I can recommend is do NOT wait until the last minute to do homework assignments or readings. Since you have so much to do in your last week, there really is not the time or the mental energy available to cram a bunch of assignments. For me as a humanities student at the University of Amsterdam, I had lots and lots of reading that was all qualitatively assessed in just one or two exams (or one or two essays) throughout the whole semester, for most of my classes. The stakes are very high, so phoning it in at the end is just illogical. Make sure you do your homework throughout the semester and begin to prepare ahead of time so that you have the space to do everything else required of you for leaving. 

Packing is also quite stressful, especially if you’re like me and love to shop. I accumulated a lot of extra clothing while I was in Amsterdam, and it was difficult to figure out how to bring it all home. First of all, despite what you might think, pack lightly for the start of your semester, leaving some empty space in your suitcase(s) to accommodate for anything you might acquire while abroad. Secondly, don’t be afraid to get rid of things. I brought several bags worth of clothing and kitchen supplies, as well as my old guitar, to the thrift store in Amsterdam, and it was a huge weight off of my shoulders. Lastly, pack in small stages. Start by packing nonessentials first, such as chunkier shoes, winter clothing, unnecessary clothing for going out, accessories, decorations, etc. This will give you a sense of how much packing will be left for your essentials. Also, start to get rid of nonessential housing items, like extra food or pots and pans. Consider giving stuff to any friends you make who live there permanently––I brought my best friend a bunch of clothing, kitchen supplies, and food, and she was very thankful. Make sure to distribute the weight evenly among your suitcases, as there is a maximum weight limit for bags at airports that is somewhere around 30kg.

Saying goodbye to your friends is probably the hardest part; it was especially hard for me since I was a full-year student and had twice the time to settle down and make connections. It was truly heartbreaking saying goodbye to my friends, and it made both studying and packing that much harder, which is why I think IES Abroad’s schedule is so fundamentally flawed, because it does not prioritize student mental health or wellbeing whatsoever. Make the time to see all the people that mean something to you, even if it’s just for a short amount of time. Go to your favorite places in the city that you discovered over the semester for one last hurrah. Ultimately, transitions like this are part of life, so it was a good lesson learning how to cope and come to terms with the fact that I won’t live in the same city as my new best friends for a very long time, if ever again. Just appreciate your time for what it was, and you’ll have plenty of time to reminisce and look at pictures on the plane.

One last thing––make sure you carve out the time to go to the IES Abroad center and do whatever is necessary for your departure in terms of city registration and residence permits. While it is not a long or arduous process, it’s still one more thing on your already full plate.

I really hope IES Abroad will change their calendar for future programs to accommodate this, because it’s truly unfair to make students do all of these tasks at the same time. There is not a great sense of closure, because the time you would have to reflect and come to terms with leaving your abroad destination is consumed by studying, packing, and other logistical frustrations. This is something to keep in mind when choosing IES Abroad as a program.  

Editors note: We're proud to amplify unfiltered student voices through our Correspondent program, recognizing that every study abroad adventure is unique. We value student feedback on their experiences and collaborate closely with our center staff to offer support and continually enhance our programs.

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Kees Lynch

Despite being a history major and studying history at the UvA this year, I am a passionate musician. I have been playing piano for over a decade, focusing largely on jazz, but I love to play guitar, banjo, and mandolin in my free time!

2023 Fall
Home University:
Skidmore College
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