“There’s no place like home” is a popular saying in the U.S.
Studying in the U.S. is a great opportunity, but heading home to visit friends and family is especially exciting. No matter how much you’re enjoying your time in the U.S., it’s normal to feel some homesickness.
Before you go back to your home country, there are a few things to keep in mind before getting on the flight. These are easy to overlook, as you’ll likely have lots of other things on your mind as you prepare for the trip. These four tips will help make your trip a whole lot easier.
Confirm Your Flight
It sounds silly, but check your flight online the night before it departs. Ideally, check your flight before you head to the airport. Delays aren’t unusual, and it’s possible that the entire flight might be changed. In my case, the airline pushed the first leg of an international trip back a day, and they didn’t notify me. Thankfully, I checked the flight status the night before I had to wake up at 5 a.m. for the long drive to the airport.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 16 percent of all flights are delayed. Almost one percent of flights are canceled entirely. Spending a minute or two to confirm your flights and check the departure times could save you hours of hassle.
Don’t Forget Your Bills
If you’re heading home for a lengthy amount of time — perhaps for a winter break or summer break — you’ll want to sort out all of your bills while you’re gone. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a roommate around to take care of rent, utilities, and so on while you’re gone. If not, you’ll have to handle these responsibilities on your own. The easiest way to stay on top of everything is to set up either automatic payments or online payments.
As for your phone service, remember to let your phone service provider know that you’ll be out of the country. Calling them ahead to alert them of my travel plans allowed me to be placed on a “vacation suspend” that reduced my monthly bill from $100 to $10 per month. This means my phone is inactive, but I’m still able to keep my phone number.
The same goes for your tuition bills. Check your university’s website for the payment schedule, so you don’t miss any important deadlines. Neglecting to do so could create some headaches upon your return.
Make Sure You’re Caught Up On School Work
Double check that you have everything submitted to to your professors before you leave. I’ve had friends who carelessly submitted their end-of-the-semester projects and assignments – only to find that the professor never received them and gave them Fs as a result. There’s nothing much you can do once those final grades are in, so please double check that you’ve submitted all your work. It’s also important to figure out if some professors require reading or assignments to be completed before the semester begins.
It’s better to be prepared, than behind on the curriculum. Now that we have incredibly advanced technology in our pockets (portable devices have become the fastest-growing segment of the computing market) it’s easy to be caught up on class requirements no matter where you are in the world.
Pack Your Documents and Double Check Before You Go
Forgetting your passport or ID will surely delay your timely return. It’s an obvious thing, but it’s easy to forget those necessary documents when you’re busy planning and packing for the coming trip. Without those documents, you can’t fly — and you’ll feel especially foolish.
For your return flight to the states, you also need to make sure all your documents are in order or you’ll have a difficult time getting back in the country.
Ask a Friend or Neighbor for Help
If you’re renting an apartment with a 12-month lease, ask a friend or neighbor if they can collect your mail and keep an eye on your place while you’re gone. Letting the mail pile up in your mailbox isn’t a good look, and it lets potential thieves know that nobody is home. Having a neighbor monitor your place will also give you peace of mind while you’re away. The odds of something bad happening are slim to none, but it’s worth recruiting someone for the task. They’ll likely be happy to help.
It’s also possible to suspend your mail while you’re away if you don’t want your mailbox filling up. The maximum amount of time that the U.S. Postal Service is 30 days and the request must be made two weeks or less in advance of your departure date. This can be done online at USPS.com.
If you’ve settled all these things, you’re ready to go back home. Enjoy the trip!