My last month in California went by in a flash.
I went straight from my classes at the University of Redlands to my internship as a Research Assistant at Stanford University. But in the midst of my 40 hour weeks at Stanford, I made a goal to visit the places that mean the most to me in California before leaving the country. Seeing these places as well as all of my family and friends really grounded me before I left. As one of the first people to travel in my family, this was very important for me and helped reduce my anxiety and worries about my upcoming trip.
IFSA Butler is one of, if not the best program to use while studying abroad. Everything seemed to be taken care of for me and if I had problems they were resolved within a couple days. Travel itinerary, a place to live, health insurance, and an advisor are some of the many things that were given to me and at my disposal in advance. This not only eased the worries of my family but made me feel like I had a strong support system if anything was to happen and a stable bridge to a new culture.
The last few days before my trip feel like a blur of mostly shopping and packing. Making sure I had all the essentials was a two day task, but IFSA Butler even aided in this by giving us a checklist of items to bring and preparing us for the airline requirements. I was able to contact my extremely sweet and helpful advisor when I had worries about my heavy suitcase.
In retrospect, I wish I could change a few things. I would have splurged for extra baggage if I had known that everything from face wash to clothes was extremely expensive and I wish I had known that international flights have different baggage requirements than the domestic flights in the country you are traveling to. Also, many apps need to be set up in your home country unless you have some sort of international plan.
My final goodbyes were bittersweet but easier than I thought with having gone through this when I left for college and with all the apps now available to contact your family. Some of the best ones are Viber, WhatsApp, Skype, and Vonage. I used these whenever I had wifi on the plane flight. Knowing you can keep in touch with your loved ones is invaluable for ones happiness and reduces the immediate “culture shock”.
I couldn’t have asked for a better month with my family and friends or transition into a new chapter in my life.
Bye for now,