Universities in the UK are full of students from all over the world; with over 420,000 full and part time international students recorded as studying here in 2011 they make up a large proportion of our student population. Many of these students will of course go on to find permanent jobs here in the UK but many of them will also be ready to return home. As you would expect; spending anywhere from three to seven years studying in a foreign country can make you extremely home sick. Below are some tips to help you prepare if you do intend to return home after your studies:
Try to get your flights home booked well in advance, not only will this save you money but it will also give you plenty of time to get organised for your journey. This also gives you time to notify all of the relevant people and organise some accommodation in your home country if necessary. You can compare flights on websites like this one to get yourself the best deal. Choosing to book early also means you will have a greater choice of dates so you can travel exactly when is convenient for you.
Getting your things home
I know you’re probably thinking that you don’t have much to take back with you, after all you didn’t bring much. Really think about this. Is that actually the case? How many times have you made the journey home over the years and brought things back with you? How many Christmas/birthday gifts have you accumulated in your time in the UK? If you moved out of student accommodation you’ve probably bought furniture along the way and that is before you even begin to think about all of the clothes you need to take home with you. All of this is not going to fit in the one suitcase you’re allowed to take with you on the plane. Plan in advance and use an online calculator to get a quote and find out what the cost of shipping your things home will be. This way everything can go together and it saves you the hassle, so all you have to worry about is getting yourself home.
Leaving your job
If you’ve been over here for several years chances are you’ve needed to get a job at some stage. If you’re still working there make sure to give your employer plenty of notice so that they can replace you and try and leave on good terms as it is always helpful to have a friendly contact should you ever choose to return to the UK.
People you need to notify
Being in the UK for an extended period of time will mean that there are a few loose ends you will need to tie up before leaving the country. Get in touch with H M Revenue and Customs as if you have been working here you will need to let them know you’re leaving and who knows you may even get a tax refund!
You will also need to notify your bank and let them know that you are intending to move as it may be worth shutting down your account if you won’t be returning. Any outstanding balances or debts are going to need to be paid so this is something that you should do sooner rather than later giving you time to budget if necessary.
Also get in touch with your local Post Office as you will be able to give them your forwarding address and that way you won’t be missing any important mail. You should also inform anybody that you receive regular mail from of your new address, such as your bank or any subscriptions you may have.
There is no doubt that if you have been here for several years you will have built some important relationships. You need to prepare yourself to leave these behind. Obviously if they are important to you, you will keep in contact but it can be a huge shock to the system to go from seeing someone every day to only seeing them over a computer screen. So stay as connected as you can. Get email addresses, phone numbers, Skype details and home addresses so that you can always keep in contact with each other. Once you are settled back at home perhaps they could even come out to visit you.
Since you are moving home you’re probably thinking what is there to adjust to? But remember you have been away for a long time and as much as we would like it to, time does not stand still when we leave. People change and move on and while you will of course be looking forward to seeing your loved ones this can be a daunting prospect. Give yourself some time; don’t just expect everything to be as it was.
There is also the fact that you will be different. Spending so much time immersed in a different culture how could you not be? Think about it, how many times have you gone home and friends and family have commented on how different you are or how your accent is changing? You get used to the social norms of living in the UK and when you get home some things that you have grown accustomed to may not fit in. If you find you are really having trouble adjusting then try joining some local groups/communities just to familiarise yourself with the culture once again.
Your plan for back home
Try to have a rough idea of what you are going to do when you return home. Yes, at first you will be busy catching up and rediscovering things you’d once forgotten but after a while it will be time to settle down and decide what am I going to do with the degree I’ve earned? You’ve spent a big portion of your life working hard to get it so don’t let a change in surroundings make you forget about that. Utilise all of your skills and try to make the most of every opportunity. If you already have job prospects lined up for your return then be prepared. Get references from the people you have worked/studied with in the UK as these will always be useful to have. If you find yourself struggling with career prospects you can use websites like this one and your University’s site to give you ideas and tips for kick starting your career.