When i finished my undergraduate program, as you would expect there was much partying and carrying on with my friends as we got ready to make the jump to non-student status. it was a sad time in some ways, in others full of promise and excitement for the next step. we said goodbye, cried in some cases, and of course promised to keep in touch and get together in the future for all weddings, babies and other important events. some of these promises have been kept (my ex-roomate flew in for 24 hours to Costa Rica for my wedding this past year) but for the most part people started the drift that we call life and responsibility.
There was one member of our clan that was noticeably absent from all the festivities that last week of revelrey. evidently, she slipped off to the beach for the entire week with her family and skipped the whole goodbye process. for me this was a huuuuuuge mistake, as it robbed us and her of the opportunity for closure, to express how much we appreciated her etc. it left an open loop. the human psyche abhors open loops.
When you are getting prepared for your departure from your program and your time abroad, saying goodbye well is an important part of your experience. Here are a few ideas for closing loops and leaving with satisfaction:
1. make a list of your favorite places in your new country and make a farewell tour. get a chocoalmendras at POPS, one more beer at your favorite watering hole, a Latte at Bagelman’s, one more casado at your favorite dive downtown.
2. consider the most important people you’ve met and make sure to let them know how fond you are of them. take time out to chat, hug, express yourself, draw a picture, whatever moves you. The final days get hectic and if you aren’t intentional about the goodbyes, when you get around to it, perhaps those special folks have already made other plans.
3. do something nice for your family. maybe you order chinese take out, cook your favorite meal, make cookies, take them bowling or to a movie or something of that line. the host families are usually in a position of giving to the students, you’ll find that perhaps one of your favorite memories is when you turn the tables and do something nice for them.
4. Get a group foto. make sure you don’t leave without getting a phot of you and your host family all together. get out the timer, put the camera on a chair and get a shot of everyone in the kitchen, or living room or your favorite space in the house. this photo will become one of your great memories from your time abroad.
The final week will be full, so don’t think that you can leave everything for the last 2 days and get it all done. saying goodbye is something you should think about 1-2 weeks before you are actually going. this can be a challenge in itself, as many students who have had a great time like to live in denial that they are on the verge of leaving. don’t be that person, take the time and say goodbye the right way, you will be happy you did.