By Lee Reyes-Fournier
The idea of you studying abroad may be scary for your parents, but the benefits are huge. According to the University of California at Merced, 97 percent of students that study abroad find employment within 12 months of graduation, and 25 percent of those make around $7,000 more annually than those that only study domestically.
Instead of being discouraged from learning abroad, create ways to keep your parents sane and connected with you.
Keep a Rigid Schedule
The best way to keep your parents from freaking out is to communicate on a regular basis. Know the time difference between countries, and set a good time to talk before you leave.
Of course, this can become difficult if you don’t have telephone or Internet service. However, most large, industrialized cities have available Wi-Fi in Internet cafes, restaurants or stores.
Furthermore, instead of trying to rely on cell phone towers, use Internet platforms like Skype and Google Voice. In rural areas, you may need to be your own hotspot, so try hotspot apps like Cellular Abroad’s MiFi, which has service in 33 countries. Most of the packages are under $100 per month.
Share Your Trip
Your parents want to know that this educational trip is worth the time, money and worry. Sharing your trip pics is a good way to keep them in the loop without needing to call and explain every moment of your travels. Use Dropbox or a similar cloud storage service so that your parents can access photos whenever they want. This allows them to easily see that you are safe as well as all of the cultural, historical, educational and fun things you are experiencing.
Since the day you were born, your parents always want to know where you are, what you are doing, who you are with and that you are safe. This parental instinct does not change just because you are 21 and no longer live at home.
To help combat your parents’ fears, try a geolocation tracking app like Life360, which can tell you where your family member is within 32 feet. This application works with the GPS and texting systems of the cellphone, allowing you to see where everyone in your network is located. It also has emergency functions, which allow you to send an alert to everyone in the family grid with a push of a button.
Get Names And Numbers
There is nothing more reassuring than a person that will pick up the telephone. No news is not good news for parents, so the University of Northern Iowa’s Study Abroad Center recommends getting contact names, phone numbers and emails for your school, home, embassy and any other important people abroad. Furthermore, it may help your parents relax if they can talk to any of these people before you leave.
Also, register with the U.S. Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Plan to stay informed with any potentially dangerous situations.
Lee Reyes-Fournier is a psychotherapist with 25 years of experience. She is the award-winning co-author of CoupleDumb.com, which is ranked within the top 1% of all relationship sites. She also co-wrote the book “Dysaffirmations” and is co-host of “Relationship Rehab,” a relationship web series – Science!!
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