Dear LME: how do I use my last month before moving abroad?

Dear LME

July 9, 2023

Today’s post is another in the Dear LME series! I haven’t written posts for this series in a long time, and if you need a refresher as to what this is, Dear LME is my advice column for expats, internationals, and TCKs. A place to write in anonymously to get answers to those questions that you just can’t google! You can read more about the project here and submit your own questions.

Today’s question that I’m tackling is, “how do I use my last month before moving abroad?” For context, this question is about using that last summer before moving abroad for college and all the emotions and to-do lists that come along with that period of time! I vividly remember that time in my life; I remember trying to soak up my “lasts” of everything before I left home and the mix of stress/excitement/nerves that buzzed through me in the weeks before we flew to America to move me in. I feel as though there were definitely some pieces of advice that I wish I had known at that point, so in this post I’m going to share my 7 top tips for using that month! I’m sure that these tips can be used not just for a college move-in but for any period leading up to a big move.

1. Just relax a little

Definitely easier said than done because moves are stressful! But give yourself a second and just calm down. I know that moving, especially when it’s an international move, pretty much consumes your entire life, but make an effort to compartmentalize that and still focus on doing fun things, normal routines, and thinking about other things outside of your move! I feel as though the summer before I moved to DC I was constantly thinking about the move and it was this looming stressor in the bottom of my stomach; I wish I had told myself that those feelings are valid but that they didn’t have to consume my entire life at that point.

2. Socialize

I think that the core of being stressed or nervous for a move is about the element of unknown. Yes, there are stressful components like packing and unpacking and all those things, but I think the biggest cause of those emotions is that we don’t know exactly what we’re walking into! One thing that I think is super helpful in quelling those feelings is to just socialize and talk to people in the place you’re moving to. Whether that’s reaching out to your future classmates, roommates, or coworkers, just having a little more information about what you’re about to get yourself into can be very comforting!

3. Communicate with your future school/workplace

As you get into the “to-do list stage” of moving and the planning stage, make sure you’re in contact with your future workplace or school to understand what you need to do in order to be prepared. Maybe that involves understanding what documents you need to bring with you on your first day, what tasks need to be completed before your first day, or what you need to bring to move into your dorm. Making sure you have those details early on can be a huge help when it comes to those final weeks and you have other things to focus on.

4. Take a moment to reflect on your priorities

This sounds like a big soul searching ask, but… hear me out. When I say reflect on your priorities, I mean just think about the things in your current home/routine that you really enjoy. What are those things that make you feel like you’re at home? What are those things that make a day in that place great? Maybe it’s a physical item in your house, maybe it’s being able to walk to your favorite workout class, maybe it’s your regular coffee shop. Whatever it is, just reflecting on those small things that make a big difference to you can be super helpful when it comes to moving because you can plan ahead to find those things in the future. For example, in your first week in your new home, finding a new regular coffee shop to go to every weekend can feel a lot more comforting than drowning in the sea of “what should I do this weekend” and “I don’t know anywhere around here.”

5. Make lots of lists

Never underestimate the power of a good list. I feel like I have a million lists for everything going on in my life, and sometimes I do feel like I’m drowning in them… but they’re super helpful! There are so many little things to remember and keep track of with moving and keeping lots of lists can help clear your mind so that you can focus on other things at the same time. In the months before I moved to DC I had a long list of everything I was planning to pack, a list of what I needed to buy when I got there, and a list of tasks I had to complete before my first day of classes.

6. Don’t put pressure on yourself

This is something that I’m still actively working on. When you’re moving away, it’s so easy to put pressure on yourself and say that this is the last time that you’ll do this or the last time that you’ll hang out with this person for a while, and that just makes you miserable! It’s something I struggle with everytime I go home, but the one piece of advice I’d give you to combat this is to just soak up the moment and try not to label it as the “last” time.

7. Get excited!

With all the moving parts that come with an international move it’s easy to get bogged down in the details, but take a step back and allow yourself a moment to get excited! You did this, you got into this school, you got this job, you’re moving to a new place, you’re going to have new adventures! When all the little details seem like too much just remember to zoom out and think about the bigger picture.

And with that, I hope this answered the question of how to make the most of your month before moving! As a reminder, you can always submit your own question here or by sending a DM to @little.miss.expat on Instagram.

See you next week,

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