Parents Just Don’t Understand! Help Your Parents Understand the Importance of Studying Abroad


You want to go abroad, but you think your parents won’t understand why you should go.  During this Christmas holiday (and after) share the following 3 benefits of study abroad with your parents:

Reason 1: Studying abroad will enhance your resume and can make you more employable

By studying abroad, you will gain skills that employers value such as cross-cultural communication and competency as well as the ability to adapt to unfamiliar situations.  Remind your parents that when you graduate you will be competing for jobs and for spots in graduate school with students not only your own institution but from around the world. Studying abroad can be the thing that gives you an edge over your competition locally and internationally.

Reason 2: Studying abroad is academically beneficial

Whether it’s studying a foreign language, taking courses not offered at your home university or learning a different style of teaching, study abroad offers countless academic benefits. Talking to your parents about the academic aspect of study abroad will show them that going abroad will enhance your academic experience and be beneficial for you now and in the future.

Reason 3: Studying abroad will increase independence and your self-confidence

You’ve probably heard the saying that if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. We disagree.  If you can make it in Beijing, Istanbul, London, or Rio de Janeiro you can make it anywhere! Whether it’s navigating through a city where you don’t speak the language or simply dealing with and resolving conflict in another culture, let your parents know that studying abroad will help you build independence, increase self-confidence and be better prepared to face future challenges.

In addition to these three benefits be ready to answer these questions your parents may have about study abroad:

Why do you want to go abroad?

Will it be safe?

How much will it cost?

Will it delay your graduation?

Where do you want to go? Why?

How will we stay in contact?

Ultimately you know your parents the best. Think about what questions they ask about study abroad an be ready to answer them.

Learn more about study abroad benefits:

For your parents, make sure they learn more about study abroad for parents here:

Get Over It! Managing Culture Shock Abroad

The spring will soon arrive and many of you are preparing to go abroad.  What you need to remember is that when you go abroad, you will experience new cultures, people, food, music, and probably a new language. All of the “newness” plus the lack of familiar surroundings and people might cause you to have some anxiety, which is called culture shock. Culture shock can be put into four stages. Once you become familiar with these stages, you will be better able to cope with it.

1.   Honeymoon Stage Think of the first stage of culture shock as the honeymoon stage. This occurs in the first few days of arriving in your host country. Symptoms of the honeymoon stage 

  • Excitement and euphoria
  • Anticipation of everything that you are about to experience
  • Fascination with everything and everyone you encounter
  • Eagerness to learn the language spoken in your host country
  • During the honeymoon stage, you will be eager to take on the challenges of living abroad.

2.   Frustration Stage After the honeymoon stage, your initial excitement may wane. You may also start to feel irritated, signaling the onset of the frustration stage. Frustration can occur for various reasons. Symptoms of the frustration stage

  • Some of your initial excitement dissipates
  • Feelings of anxiety, anger and homesickness creep in
  • You might reject your new environment and begin to have a lack of interest in your new surroundings
  • You become frustrated with trying to speak a foreign language

How to handle the frustration stage

  • Don’t blame the host country or its people for your feelings. Anxiety and frustration happens to millions of people who study, work, or travel abroad.
  • Remember, you are in a new environment and getting accustomed takes time. How you handle this frustration determines how you grow from your experience abroad.
  • Don’t be negative; you will only prolong the feelings of frustration.
  • Stay positive. Think about the experience you’re having while living abroad and learning about a new culture, people, and food.
  • Try keeping a journal chronicling your experiences.

3.   Understanding Stage The understanding stage arrives when you develop a more balanced view of your experience abroad. Characteristics of the understanding stage

  • You become more familiar with the culture, people, food and language of your host country
  • You have made friends
  • You feel less homesick
  • You become more comfortable with speaking and listening to the language spoken in your host country
  • You feel more relaxed in your new environment
  • You better handle the situations you previously found frustrating

4.   Acclimation Stage During the acclimation stage you will begin to feel like you really belong in your new environment. Characteristics of the acclimation stage

  • You are able to compare the good and bad of your host country with the ups and downs of your home country
  • You feel less like a foreigner and more like the host country is your second home
  • You laugh about things that frustrated you at the earlier stages of culture shock

Once you reach the acclimation stage, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you can live successfully in two cultures; this is a huge milestone.

What! People Like You Can’t Study Abroad.

Sure You can! Whether you are an athlete, STEM student, first generation college student, or financially strapped, YOU can study abroad. Study Abroad takes timing to succeed. The sooner you start preparing to study abroad, the better your experince will probably be. If you’re planning to study abroad Summer 2011, start the process by following these steps:

1,   Meet with your Study Abroad or Academic Advisor: Each school has different policies for stud abroad. Your school may even have different policies for different majors. Meet with your study abroad or academic advisor to discuss your interest in going abroad. Your advisor can help you understand how study abroad fits in with your academic plan

2.   Research Study Abroad Program: There are hundreds of study abroad, intern abroad, teach abroad, volunteer abroad and language abroad programs. Choose a program that fits your academic and personal goals for going abroad. See Choosing the Right Program

3.   Apply for Study Abroad Programs: Study Abroad Programs fill up quickly. Apply for two or three programs as soon as possible, or at least a few months prior to the application deadline. Review the application carefully. If your school is the program’s sponsor, see your study abroad advisor for specific application information. For all other programs, contact the program administrator directly for application questions and deadline.

4.   Get Study Abroad Courses Approved: Once you have applied, see your academic or study abroad advisor as soon as possible. Discuss with them what classes you will take abroad. You must have your classes approved before going abroad. That will ensure that you get credit for the classes you’ll take abroad.

5.   Apply for Financial Aid: Apply early for scholarships, grants, federal or personal student loans to study abroad. Ask your study abroad advisor about grants your school may provide. If you are not going to a school-sponsored program, contact your program and ask about financial aid. See Study Abroad Financial Aid

6.   Prepare for the Adventure: You’ve chosen your program, and you have your classes approved. Now it’s time to plan your trip. Follow these steps:

You’re The First In Your Family To Study Abroad? You Better Be Prepared!

Being a first generation student to study abroad can be an overwhelming experience, however, you do not have to go it alone.  In preparing for study abroad, here are a few tips to help you successfully navigate the process:

  1. Talk to Your Advisors and Fellow Students:  When preparing to study abroad, seek advice from people at your current university or college.  Generally, most study abroad advisors are open to discussing studying abroad with students.  In addition, talk to students who have already studied abroad.  They can give you firsthand advice about the process of living abroad. Some universities have organizations specifically focused on advising and preparing students to study abroad.
  1. Personal Research:  Do personal research by reading books about study abroad. There are many books available that can guide you through many of the issues you will face during your studies in your host country.  Of course, books may not answer all your questions, but they are a good place to start.
  1. Find Support:  Once abroad, it is important to have a support unit in place.  Form a cohort with other students in your program.  Having a group to work with will provide you with the support needed to successfully navigate your program.
  1. Take Advantage of Opportunities: Do not return from your program abroad without taking advantage of international opportunities. While abroad, your uniqueness will be a great icebreaker to help you make friends with locals.

Having support and information before and after studying abroad can go a long way in helping you prepare for your time abroad.  Use the study abroad search function to find a program that works for you.