Talking to Your Family About Study Abroad
So, you’re thinking about studying abroad. There are so many choices! There are so many things to consider! Where do you start?
As with any important undertaking, you should start with planning and discussion. Assuming you’ve had the chat with your home school advisor or dean about what courses you need to take in order to meet your academic requirements while off-campus, and have spoken with your study abroad office about what programs would be appropriate for you, now it’s time to talk to your family about your plans. (If you haven’t had the chat with your school officials, we encourage you to do so as soon as possible.)
Your approach should be as unique as your family. Some families travel a lot and understand “the travel bug,” others prefer to stay more local and prefer not to venture too far out of their immediate community, some families have a combination of these viewpoints in equal or differing measures. Arcadia Abroad publishes a Parents Guide that you can review separately or together. Other steps you can take to prepare include:
- Educate Yourself. Research where you’re going... and why. Spend some time on websites learning about the countries and communities you’re considering, and the specific programs you’re applying to. Understand the logistics and services on offer with each program.
- Know Your Financials. Research fees and expenses. Make a budget to discuss. Don’t leave anything out so there are no surprises. Consider sources of funding and financial aid. Familiarize yourself with accommodation and meal options for your particular program (food is one of the most predominant yet variable costs). Use your program-supplied cost estimates. And don’t forget to check the program calendar so you can budget for the number of days/weeks on your program to keep your numbers accurate. Arcadia Abroad offers additional resources on budgeting on our website.
- Choose your country to check out additional budget information and a useful worksheet:
- Discuss the “Soft” Benefits. Study abroad provides you a well-deserved edge to future employers and graduate school admission committees. The ability to navigate complex systems and differing protocols are valuable lifelong skills. Immersion in another culture encourages qualities of resourcefulness, empathy, and flexibility.
- Acknowledge the Absence. Sometimes families admit that they’re really going to miss you while you’re away. Remind them that you’re only a text or chat away and that the world is an incredibly interconnected place. Commit to a communication plan with your family during your program. Old fashioned letters are always lovely and serve as a future keepsake.
- Choose a Quality Program. To your family, your safety is paramount. Choose a study abroad program that features health, safety and security as one of its top priorities. This way, if unexpected circumstances arise, your family can be assured that you will be looked after and advised properly in order to help you make the best choices and gain the most from your experience
Study abroad can and should be a decision made not just by the student but by those who care for and about them. By ensuring that you have all possible information available when you begin the conversation, the confidence and support you inspire by your preparation can sustain you throughout your program and beyond.