In the final weeks of your program...
It can be difficult to think about returning home before you have left your program. However, the last few weeks of your program often go by much quicker than you expect. During this time, it’s important to consider different aspects of the departure process to avoid feeling overwhelmed or rushed.
Each student will receive a transcript from their global study program, usually 6-8 weeks after the program concludes. Most programs will send a copy directly to you and a copy to the Center for Global Education. Transcripts will be held if you have any outstanding bills. Please make sure to pay all bills and sign any “transcript release forms” from your program before you return to the US. In addition, make sure you have completed and submitted all academic assignments prior to your departure to expedite the processing of your transcript.
In most cases, students will have purchased a round-trip flight for their semester. If you need to purchase a return ticket or make changes to your flight, be sure to book or change this ticket as far in advance as possible, as flights can fill and increase in price closer to departure dates. Just as when you were departing for your program, be sure to bring electronic and/or hard copies of your flight confirmations with you to the airport, pay attention to baggage/weight restrictions, and be especially mindful of customs restrictions on what you bring back with you in your checked/carry-on luggage.
If you plan to stay in your host country and/or travel after the conclusion of your program, be sure to speak with your program provider about any specific visa requirements and expiry dates.
Don’t wait until the day before your flight departs to say goodbye to the people and places that have meant the most to you during your semester. These kinds of reflections are just as important as packing your bags and checking into your flights.
- Did you stay with a host family or have local friends? Did you become a regular in a coffee shop or volunteer in your community? Intentionally plan some time to visit these friends and mentors before you depart.
- Are there cultural traditions or norms for saying goodbye in your host country? Sometimes it is appropriate to give small gifts to people who had a large impact on your experience. Giving a photograph or writing a letter can also be a nice parting gift.
- Do you have ways to stay in touch with local friends that you’ve made?
- What’s Up with Culture? This online training module has tips, reflection questions, and advice for every stage of the global study process, including preparing to return from your global study program.
Remembering Your Experience
In addition to saying goodbye to the people you’ve met, be sure to say goodbye to the places where you’ve spent the most time.
- Take photographs. Many times, people only photograph the dramatic moments from their semesters. Be sure to also take photographs of the places where you spent the most time: your room, your host family’s home or your residence hall, your favorite study spots, and/or your favorite bakery or market.
- Make playlists/audio recordings. Are there songs you associate with your global study semester? Are there local bands you got to know? What do you hear as you walk through your neighborhood? Making a playlist can be a great way to remember your time in that place.
- Write it down! When you first return home, your memories and experiences seem very vivid. However, continuing to write down your reflections and memories in a journal can act as a time capsule to remember the way you felt in this place at this time. Hobart and William Smith College has a great resource about journaling; what journaling is, what journaling can be, and how you can write your own.