Studying abroad is an amazing opportunity for both high school and college students, but, unfortunately for us high schoolers, getting across the globe (and sometimes even the keys to the family car) can be a real uphill battle. The most notorious opponents? Parents. But, here’s an insider’s secret: you can do this. So, from the kids who have been across the world and back, I give you their top tips on convincing your parents studying abroad is not only a great opportunity, but the right opportunity.
Have a game plan.
First things first: know what you want and what’s possible. Gather a few options, and figure out the answers to the big questions your parents may be asking. Where? How much? How long? With what program? Do you get credit, service hours, or anything else from the program? Is it language intensive? Where will you be staying—school or host family? Showing your parents the merits and safety of studying abroad is key. Jane*, a senior in high school, studied abroad in Japan in the summer of her junior year. She handled it by presenting her parents information about the program and explained why they wanted to attend. “I was prepared to answer any questions that they may have had for me and eventually they too thought it was a good idea,” she said.
Know your interests.
Students who got the most out of their time abroad all said the same thing: they had a passion for the country, the language, or the program. Learning what you’d like to get out of a program first can really help your parents understand why such an experience is important to you. Jon, a senior in high school who studied abroad in, said that studying abroad taught him, “how to be independent and admire other cultural approaches to daily life.” Likewise, Laurence, a senior in high school who also studied abroad in China, wanted to study abroad to improve his language skills after taking the subject in school. “Studying abroad was great because I learnt new ways of studying by being in a completely new educational environment. My language skills were really pushed, as I was surrounded by the Chinese language constantly,” he said.
Take your time in considering your options. Are there more cost-effective programs out there? Are you ready to be home away for so long? How are your language skills? Not only is your readiness an important factor of studying abroad, but your parents also need to feel comfortable letting you go. Communication along with patience is key. As Sophia, a junior in high school who studied abroad in Guatemala for a summer, says, “give your parents time and space. It’s a big step letting their child leave their sight, let alone the country!”
Give them some examples.
Show your parents other students who have studied abroad, whether it be through blogs, vlogs, or your friends. There are countless students across the globe who have recorded their thoughts and experiences on studying abroad, and it’s in your best interest to use it to your advantage! Jane*, a high school student, says, “My perception on everyday occurrences, like how people stand in an elevator, changed after I studied abroad. It became clear to me just how big the world really was, and how things as small as how women hold their purses is different everywhere.”
All right, this is actually more for all of you out there looking to study abroad. If you really want to study abroad, you can make it happen. Keep working hard!
- Jane*: I would tell prospective study abroad students to prepare to have their expectations shattered. No amount of online research can really prepare you for what it’s like living in a different country, so the most important thing is to just keep an open mind and get ready to have a great adventure.
- Laurence: My advice to future study abroad students? Stay open-minded, because you’re going to be trying a lot of new things abroad. Find ways to deal with homesickness, as it’ll be most prevalent in your days away (don’t let it ruin your entire experience)! Finally, spend as much time with new people as possible, because that’s one of the reasons you’re there, right?
*Name changed to preserve anonymity