Getting Ready to Leave
Katherine, Fall 2023, Florence
December 19, 2023

You’re reaching the end of your semester with SAI! Leaving your study abroad city can be an emotional experience, regardless of how excited you are to see your friends and family back home. It might be hard to think through packing and planning for your return trip amidst the last few activities, finals, and goodbyes. However, a few quick steps can make your transition easier- so you have more moments to fully enjoy your last few days!

Make sure to check out local events and markets when shopping for souvenirs, I found the best travel-friendly gifts at small Christmas markets like this one!

Donate clothes you don’t want to bring home
I imagine it is a universal experience of looking at your closet and realizing you have fit everything back in a suitcase PLUS all the souvenirs you bought. Luckily, SAI makes it super easy to donate any gently-used items or clothing that no longer fit, do not match your new style, or you’d rather not try to stuff into a carry-on. Just take a few moments to look through your belongings for pieces that might deserve a second life, instead of trashing last minute!

Don’t forget about final exams and projects! If you procrastinate, you may have less time to enjoy the city in your final days before departure.

Start saying goodbye to favorite places in advance!
Your date to leave can creep up on you pretty unexpectedly, so I recommend making some of your final visits to your favorite places a week or so before your departure. That way, if you end up having an unexpectedly full schedule the last few days, you don’t miss out on seeing every place on your bucket list. Even if you do not have any places in mind you want to visit for a final time, just walking through the city can bring up nostalgia for all the amazing memories you made over your study abroad program!

I made sure to visit the Duomo and the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore before leaving, as I think they are striking symbols of Florence to remember!

Talk about your experience with others
If you’re feeling emotional about leaving, just remember that you are most likely surrounded by people going through the same experiences as you- use them as a resource! Even just knowing you are not alone can help alleviate some of the negative feelings that arise with a major change like your return home, so reach out for help if you need it. Further, try to be present for others expressing sadness due to departure- you might end up seeking similar reassurance as your date to leave approaches.

These simple steps, included in your day-to-day as you approach your departure date, will hopefully make your last moments in your study abroad experience the sweetest they can be! Safe travels!

Written by: Katherine, Fall 2023 Florence student from Saint Mary’s College of California

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