Author: Katherine Young, mindhamok wellness coach
Are you wondering where the time has gone? Marveling that your semester abroad is actually winding down?
Likely, it’s been exciting and exhilarating, while also at times challenging. These few weeks before you finish the term can, perhaps surprisingly, bring up a lot. Not only is there the pressure of bringing your classes and work to a finish, but you are also saying your goodbyes to the people and place that have been your home these last months.
Whatever this time has been like for you, you have settled into life abroad, developed new relationships, and sensed into your independence in a different way. You have summoned your strength and resilience to adjust and move forward with what life has presented to you in this new experience, and this takes a great deal of courage.
As you negotiate the final weeks of your time overseas, we want to offer some ways to think about this time period – some are bigger picture, bird’s eye views and others offer a more practical, close up take on what is happening. See our tip sheet for other ways to manage this time period.
Change as a part of life & the art of saying goodbye
Whether you feel very much ready to return home, are wondering how you can find a way to stay longer, or some mix of the two, you might find it helpful to hear how poet David Whyte describes how we follow our path.
No way to make sense of a world that wouldn’t let you pass
except to call an end to the way you had come
…but because now, you would find a different way to tread
and because, through it all, part of you would still walk on, no matter how, over the waves.
Indeed, you are about to walk on over the ways, calling an end to the way you have come and finding a different path.
As you think about drawing this chapter to a close, it can be a rich time to consider how you want to say goodbye and “walk on”. Here are a few questions to help you consider.
- What is it important that you do before you go? Who is it important that you spend time with? Is there anyone you want to make sure you acknowledge in some way, for their impact in your time abroad?
- Are there any places you want to visit before leaving? Any last meals or coffees, monuments or other favorite spots that you want to bid farewell to?
- When you imagine yourself at home a month from now, what are 1 or 2 mementos that you would want to have as memories of this time? What can you bring back that will conjure up these precious memories? Would they be particular objects, photos, writing, or something else?
There is an art to saying goodbye. How do you want to do it?
Taking Care Now
Let’s move into the more practical, day in day out things that are important to do in high intensity periods like end-of-term. This for you is even higher intensity as it’s end-of-term plus moving out of your housing, saying goodbye, and returning home.
Pause for a moment and reflect, how are you managing things in these last weeks? How would you rate your stress and anxiety levels?
If the response that comes up is positive, you feel healthy and are managing well, just keep doing what you are doing. If you rate anxiety and stress on the higher end and things feel a bit overwhelming or at times out of control, read on and see if this review of some fundamental care strategies is helpful. We need to double down on these basics in times of intensity.
- Focus time and relax time. Be specific about time for your academic work and down time, particularly now when the workload/studying may be heavier. Be on or off, and be clear about which it is. For many it helps to make a schedule so you can see when you have time to do your work, spend time with friends, have some solo time, exercise, sleep and so on. Again, we need this even more in busy times.
- Movement. How are you moving your body amidst the increased work and demands? Exercising in some way every day is a reset for your body and supports good sleep. Identify low energy points (when you start to yawn or can’t focus) in your day and get yourself moving. It feels good, releases tension, and helps you return more focused to your work. Put on your favorite song and dance, get to the gym, do an online class, run up and down stairs, walk/run/bike – just move!
- Sleeping and eating. Nourishing your body with good rest and good food, as you know, does wonders for your ability to focus during the day, feel more balanced, and improve your overall sense of well-being. This can be challenging when you are trying to finish work and spend time with the friends you have made.
- Seek support: We are relational beings. We all need caring supportive people to listen and help us contemplate significant moments in our lives. Reach out to trusted friends or family members that are able to listen as you talk through how things are going now. And remember that Mindhamok offer a helpline and a counselor as well, as well as many complementary therapists.
Think about what is next
As you head home, consider one or two things you are looking forward to. What are you excited about? How do you want to spend your time over the holiday break? Who can’t you wait to see? It can be helpful to touch in to a couple of things coming up that make you smile.
You may want to read back over this piece on adjusting because as you return home you may experience what’s known as reverse culture shock. This tip sheet provides information as well and while you may have applied it when you came over, it also holds true when returning home.
Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions or need more information. We here at mindhamok are with you on your journey, supporting you as you cultivate your own unique “hamok” of well-being and growth.