An International Student's Guide to Moving Back Home

August 18, 2023

NOTE: I originally drafted this post in May/June 2023, as I was in the process of moving back home. Perhaps as expected, the process of moving was so much that I completely forgot to post the post! On the bright side, it does allow me to write retrospectively, so I hope this remains useful to someone!
An International Student's Guide to Moving Back Home
So, as my time in Orlando comes to an end, I am once again looking down the barrel of an international relocation. This is the second time I've had to do it, although it's on a larger scale this time.
My reason for writing this guide is twofold – first, to hold myself accountable. I know I can procrastinate at times, so by posting this on the internet for the world to see, I'm making myself live by my words. Secondly, I'm hoping that my personal experiences, advice, and even personal failings will prove useful to other international students in the future. Being an international student is hard, and the logistics of moving is one aspect of that.
Tip #1 – Start Early
For the last ~6 months of my degree, I started keeping a list of things I would have to do on my phone. Every time I would remember something (e.g., "sell furniture" or "turn service to Australian phone number back on") I would write it down, so that by the time it came to actually beginning to move, I had a comprehensive list, ready-to-go. 
Additionally, I started the actual ‘moving’ process about two months ahead of time – I started slowly culling down my clothes (and stopped buying new ones!) and books, for example. 
[Retrospective: This list has been a LIFESAVER, even after I was back in Australia!]

Tip #2 – Start Small
I'm a big fan of the snowball method – start with the smallest tasks first, so you feel accomplished (and so that they don't build up on you).
For example, I started culling what I wouldn’t need early, starting with small things. One of the first things I started with was my sock drawer, which honestly shocked me how they had accumulated. Like, who even needs that many socks?! 
An image of a pile of socks on my bed. Seriously, how does someone acquire that many?!
[Retrospective: Starting small is definitely a good way to get started, but don’t do what I do what I did and leave some of the ‘big’ things for last 😬]

Tip #3 – Work Backwards
So, for this move, I decided to do the opposite of what I did on my exchange – I started by packing a suitcase of things I absolutely wanted to keep, and worked back from there. Like, I literally just started by placing items I definitely wanted to keep in a suitcase and worked from there.
An image of a suitcase with various personal items in it. Yes, I did later repack this in a more space saving way!
Obviously, how much you can bring back home with you is a matter of logistics and cost, and therefore highly variable. If at all possible, try to ship a suitcase or two ahead of time with things you won’t need until you get home. It’s a lifesaver, and helps you be more organized as well – for example, I knew it would be winter back home, so I shipped ahead all of my cold-weather clothes so it would be one less thing to worry about.
[Retrospective: Packing in reverse worked great for me. However, if you’re someone like me (who struggles to get rid of stuff) you may need assistance culling things down if you’ve accrued too much while away. I initially told myself I would only take 3 suitcases back, but also ended up shipping a fourth ahead. Your mileage may vary.]

Tip #4 – Enlist Friends
I was so fortunate to have friends who helped with this process, both in the US and back home in Australia. My friends provided both logistical and emotional support during this move, and were absolute lifesavers. Moving is hard, make sure to ask for help where you can.
[Retrospective: The only reason this move went so smoothly is because of my friends in both the US and Australia. The only reason I include this tip is really just to include a shout-out. A huge thank you to Hayley, Sammy, Melanie, Cee, Caroline, Steph, Muna, and Nico, and everyone who offered emotional support ❤️]


Tip #5 – ROLL!
When packing, make sure to roll your clothes, not fold them. Pack smarter, not harder.

[Retrospective: I have so many little packing tips. If anyone wants them, drop me a message.]


Tip #6 – Accept that it’s going to suck
Look. Moving is never fun, and I don’t think it’s ever easy. While I always try to bring a positive attitude in to literally everything I do, I also accepted from the get-go that it was going to be rough in some ways too. 
[Retrospective: it did suck, and there were tears more than once. Just try to focus on the positives wherever you can.]


In Summary

Moving is hard, and I hope this was helpful. At the basest level, just try to be organized where you can - the more you can organize and plan ahead of time, the smoother the move can be.

I'm always happy to help out where I can, if you have any questions, please feel free to drop me a message through this website or any of my socials!


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