Exams will be taking up a lot of your time towards the end of your stay so start planning your return before they begin. Travel is often cheaper if booked a long time ahead. Specialist student travel agency STA Travel and others will be able to help get you cheap deals.
You may have collected a lot of things during your stay in the UK and find it too much to take on the plane with you. Airlines can charge a fortune if you go over the baggage allowance. Find out what the limit is and, if possible, weigh your luggage before you leave for the airport.
After getting rid of the non-essentials, consider sending the bulk of your luggage home by ship or train. They are cheaper than by plane although take longer and you are unlikely to need all of it as soon as you get home. Check with the British Association of Removers for advice and reputable movers.
You may want to sell some of your things like computer and text books. Ask around or put an advert up for other students to see.
Money and tax
Close your bank account and transfer any remaining money back home. Whether you have been working in the UK or had to pay Council Tax, there is a chance you may be entitled to a refund. Contact your local authority about your Council Tax and your local tax office about any income tax you had to pay.
Let your landlord or hall of residence know when you are leaving and negotiate getting as much of your deposit back as you can. If you were in a private house or flat give a month’s notice to cancel your utilities, like gas, electricity, telephone, etc. Pay your bills before you leave or the university may not give you your qualification.
If you have been to see a doctor, dentist or any other type of healthcare professional have them take you off their books and forward your records back to your home doctor.
Maintain relationships with as many people as you can. Networking is very important in business and a lot of people on your course will stay within the industry. An alumni association is a great way to do this as they will send newsletters about what people are doing, organise reunions and put you in contact with others who live or visit your area. The British Council is another good organisation for this.
Also, don’t forget to give your email address to your friends and colleagues, and add them to your social networking accounts so that it’s easy to stay in touch!
Reverse culture shock
What may be most surprising is how much you have adapted to living and studying in another country. If coming to the UK was hard at the start, going home again can be worse since you expect things to be the same. They are not and neither are you. By experiencing both cultures you will have taken some characteristics of both, which may not be compatible. Situations you may find include:
- You may have less independence than you had as a student.
- Some people may think of your time away as not being very important or even as a holiday.
- Others may be envious of you and the opportunities they may not have had.
- Your opinions and attitudes, such as to gender and race relations, may now be different to your friends and family who may not approve.
- Old friends and family will have grown older and changed. They may have moved away, got married, had children or even died.
- Your country may have changed, economically, socially or politically.
- When you start work your new knowledge and skills may not be immediately useful or employers and colleagues may not value them.
How to combat reverse culture shock
- Stay in contact with people from home. Big changes won’t appear so different if you are aware of them happening at the time.
- Keep up to date with events in your home country by watching television and reading newspapers and magazines from there.
- Give yourself time to adjust.
- Stay in contact with friends from university especially anyone who has come home to the same country. You will be able to talk about how you are both coping and provide each other with support.
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