How to have the talk again

           I studied abroad in Exeter, England during the fall quarter of 2007.  I then studied abroad with the DU French Department’s summer program in 2008.  During my last year at DU I won a PINS grant to do research abroad for my two senior projects.  In all of these cases I had to have the “talk” with my parents, explaining why I wanted to go abroad.

            Each time my parents were very supportive of my choices for programs.  They liked that they were through DU so that way I would get credit and if there was a problem the school could take care of it. Also, they understood that DU was a school that valued study abroad and would make sure each student was capable of having a successful experience in a foreign country.

            There are plenty of other people like me who wanted to study abroad again.  This is normal.  I fully support anyone who sees an opportunity to go abroad again and decides to look into it and hopefully follow through with another program.  You’ve had a taste of what it’s like abroad and you should be able to continue exploring other places. However, you still need to include your family in your decision at least so they can understand why you want to leave again.

            Introduce your family to the idea of you studying abroad again.  I did it by telling my parents I had a really great time and there was more I wanted to see. I told them that I would look into other programs and find out as much information as I could.  My parents respected this because I was taking the initiative to find another program and I would inform them of what I found.  I kept them involved through each step.  This is very important to do because they feel like they’re going through the steps with you and they’ll be more supportive of your choice the more they know about it.

            Another important aspect is do follow through with your research.  Don’t just say you’re going to study abroad again and then just randomly find a program that might interest you. Find out what the program is, who runs it, how much it costs, how long it is, where you’ll be living, do you need a visa, are there other people you can contact who did it etc.  The DU Study Abroad office has plenty of links for programs that you may want to look into after you come home from abroad. There are also other opportunities to study abroad through DU like what I did with the summer program with the French Department. Look into those and contact someone for information.  The more information you have the better prepared you can be for finding the right program for you and for explaining to your family what the program is.  Some parents might need a lot of convincing so the more information you have will help them to support you.

            My last bit of advice is this: be patient. Each family is different and some parents might need more time to come around to the idea. This is normal as well.  Things changed while you were abroad and to them you have come back as a different person. That isn’t a bad thing, but it might be emotionally difficult for your family to understand why you want to leave again. Just give them time and when they ask you questions about the program give them honest answers and don’t get defensive.  It’s best to be calm and respectful. In the end it will work out.

 Amy Levy, DU Study Abroad Alum

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