Week 17: Making the most of your final weeks
This can be really stressful and it’s easy to get overwhelmed with panic and heartache as you feel your final days approaching. Of course there is excitement in seeing your friends and family again (and pets!), but it can be scary to know you’re saying goodbye to some of the best times of your life in just a few weeks. Especially if you have exams to worry about it is very important that you focus on managing your stress. Unfortunately with the combination of exams and the weight of “saying goodbye” on my shoulder’s I stressed so much I got myself sick. And believe me that is not a good way to end your semester abroad. I ended up getting tonsillitis and having it for my exams and my best friend’s birthday and even into my flight home. So take it from me, take a deep breath and kick the stress out the door. I really didn’t even need to be that stressed because I attended class and knew I was ready and going to do well. Now that I have probably scared you away…despite all that, I still made the best of that week, some things are just out of our control.
Here are 10 tips on how to make the most of the end:
- Don’t panic.
This is a difficult thing to do because the end is in sight and you probably don’t want it to be. Whatever you do don’t panic. I panicked a little and it did me no good. The end does sneak up on you but there are a few things you can do to keep from panicking:
- Make a to-do list.
There will be lots you feel you didn’t get to do and it will be overwhelming and potentially upsetting if you don’t feel you have enough time to do it all. The best way to feel better about it is to make a list. Write down every place you want to see, every restaurant you wanted to try etc., even if it doesn’t seem possible. This way you can plan it out and schedule your days to get as much done as possible. Of course you can’t do everything so look forward to doing the other trips/sights the next time you visit!
- Manage your time.
Don’t sleep in!!! You have the rest of your life to catch up on sleep, do not waste precious hours sleeping in when you should be out enjoying what is left of your semester abroad. Like I said there will be lots you still want to do so go out and do it! However, don’t forget that you do have to go home at some point so make sure you do not get caught up in travels and miss any flights/buses in the process.
- Don’t neglect your packing.
This is not something you want to rush in the end. You’ve created a life here and it’s not going to be as simple as throwing your clothing into your luggage and walking out the door. It is going to take some time, and if you’re like me and created a giant photo wall on your closet doors it will DEFINITELY take a while! You may also find it difficult to start packing up simply because it’s hard to leave, and when you start to pack going home becomes a reality. You also don’t want to be left doing it all last minute, spending your final days packing rather than with your friends saying farewell to your city wouldn’t be very exciting.
Now is your chance to buy all those little souvenirs and special momentous you didn’t want hanging around your room for all those months. Don’t go crazy of course, remember you have to be able to fit it in your luggage and abide by all of the Canada Customs rules and regulations regarding items you are bringing back with you. Put some thought into it because you want to buy some nice things that will remind you of your trip and that you or your family will use. Also think about bringing home a few of those chocolate bars or “crisps” you came to love that you won’t be able to get back home.
- Think positive.
Leaving a place you’ve come to love is rarely a happy experience but it’s important not to dwell on the sad parts. You will have learned so much, met some extraordinary people and hopefully had some unimaginable experiences. As my Mom has always told me “don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened” (although I cried like a baby).
- Make memories…and capture them.
Like I said, these are your last days and you want to remember them so make sure you get pictures of all the things you haven’t yet photographed before you leave. Your favourite restaurant, favourite pub, favourite quiet park bench, your school etc. These are things you might not expect to have pictures of but will be glad you took when the images someday fade from your memory. I also like to take pictures of my room/apartment etc before I leave.
- Don’t wish your life away.
For those of you who are looking forward to going home (even a little) and seeing your friends/family-don’t wish your last few weeks away to see them. Of course I missed my family and was very excited to see them but if you can’t wait to get home to see them you might look back on that time and wish you hadn’t rushed yourself through it.
- Don’t go crazy on cash.
Although you may feel that you want to get rid of all your cash before you go home (especially if it is a different currency) don’t go crazy spending trying to get rid of it. There is a good chance that when you get home and realize just how much you spent abroad you could use that cash, even if you have to exchange it.
- Say goodbye once.
I don’t know about you but saying goodbye is one of my least favourite things to do, mostly when it is for a long or indefinite amount of time. Believe it or not some people are good at this, I am not one of those people. But the one thing I can say about it is don’t make yourself say it more than you have to. It’s easy to want to say goodbye a million times just to make sure you got to say it and remembering a goodbye with someone can be a nice memory. That being said – if you say it a million times in fear that it might be your only chance – it will only make it harder and less special. However, don’t, not say goodbye either. If you get the opportunity, saying goodbye to someone is imperative.