Power and Language in Ecuador – Abroad101’s Cool Program of the Week

Gain a unique perspective on intercultural relationships with SIT in Ecuador. Take a deep look at the relationship between power and discourse as the country’s multilingual and multiethnic populations strive for social change and sustainability.

On this program, you will study power and politics in Ecuador and consider how these discussions are shaped through different discourses. Because power and ideology are reproduced and challenged through language, you will also explore how different stakeholders in Ecuador have used both Spanish and indigenous languages to instill, reinforce, subvert, and reinvent power relationships, both historically and today. The program thus combines a political and economic focus with an emphasis on discourse and language. You will leave with a highly sophisticated understanding of how this small, bio-diverse, and multi-ethnic country is thinking about development.

To learn more or apply to this program please visit:

https://www.studyabroad101.com/programs/sit-study-abroad-euador-development-politics-and-languages

Montana’s glacier-carved mountains and valleys are the Abroad101 Cool Program of the Week!

Study Abroad in Montana! Landscape and Livelihood is a 16 credit field program that immerses students in the working landscapes of Western Montana where you’ll likely see more wildlife and natural beauty than in any foreign land. If the outdoors is your thing, make Montana your classroom and make some real cool connections and discoveries!

Montana’s glacier-carved mountains and valleys are home to a diverse suite of wildlife, the headwaters of North America, expansive forests and farm lands, and dispersed rural communities. Students come to study the complexities of natural resource management through experience. Classes include topics such as forests and communities, agriculture and sustainability, biogeography, watershed dynamics, and also a community conservation project.

Landscape and Likelihood develops practical and analytical conservation skills that you can take anywhere.

To learn more or apply to this program please visit:

https://www.studyabroad101.com/programs/swan-valley-connections-cordon-landscape-and-livelihood

Abroad101 February 2017 Students of the Week

Abroad101 donates to study abroad fundraisers that are set up by hopeful students who want to study abroad. Working together with GoEnnounce we choose a student mission to be highlighted and then award a donation to start off the fundraising efforts. February 2017 students winners tell us about their coming study abroad trips to Spain, Costa Rica, Brazil and Northern Ireland.

Dylan Huegerich, our 111th Abroad101 Student of the Week winner is currently a junior at the University of Wisconsin. He is a double major in Business and Spanish/Latin American Studies and also minors in International Business! Dylan’s future plan is International Marketing. To reach this goal, he would like to work with companies on marketing and business plans all over the world to create positive changes, such as body positive campaigns for instance.

Dylan is required to go on a Study Abroad program in order to graduate. He chose to go to Spain to do a part-time, month-long program at la Universidad de Deusto in Bilbao. He has wanted to travel for a very long time and he is very grateful to have this amazing opportunity because not only will he be able to graduate, but he’ll also be able to continuing his Business education and improving his Spanish language skills while learning more about the culture and the value that this country has to offer.

We wish Dylan all the best in Spain and hope that he will have a life changing experience there!

Learn more about Dylan’s mission here.


Congratulations goes to our 112th Abroad101 Student of the Week winner, Rachel Cummings! Rachel, a junior at the University of Louisville in Kentucky is majoring in Public Health, a subject that she is fascinated about. In addition to her major Rachel is also minoring in Global Public Health. She is a dedicated student and believes that you should always take the opportunities that are given to you.

Rachel will Study Abroad in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, at the Veritas University.  This Study Abroad program will be a five week trip and include a homestay. As a Public Health major, Rachel believes that it is very important to know a foreign language because a lot of public health work is done overseas. She thinks that to get an education in both Spanish and Global Health will be incredibly useful, and will give her a comparative advantage for her future career!

Rachel started her fundraising Mission and will use the funds to pay for the tuition abroad and the travel costs.

To check out Rachel’s Mission and donate to her cause, click here!


Grace W, is our 113th Abroad101 Student of the Week winner! Currently pursuing her master degree in Public Health at Georgia State University, in Atlanta, she is a people person and really enjoys helping others. Even though Grace has always wanted to, she never had the chance to study abroad during her undergraduate studies, and she always regretted it. However, now there is the unique chance to go Study Abroad in Brazil with her Master’s program.

Grace understands that as a Public Health major she needs to be informed and exposed to current public health issues from a global perspective and this trip to the city of Salvador will provide her with the unique chance of gaining academic and professional knowledge . Health issues are a global phenomena, therefore, health issues that affect others indirectly affect everybody else too. By getting a global exposure, she believes that she will be able to better serve her community in the long term.

We wish Grace all the best in Brazil and hope that she will have a life changing experience there!

To check out Grace’s Mission and donate to her cause, click here!


And our last, but not least, February 114th Abroad101 Student of the Week winner is Tiffany Rogers who graduated in May 2016 from UGA with a Bachelor Degree in social work. She is currently pursuing her Master Degree in Social Work with a concentration in Community Empowerment and Program Development at the University of Georgia.

Tiffany has received many honors including the Dean’s List and the President’s List during her 4th year. She also succeeded in accomplishing volunteer work, extracurricular activities, a number of several clubs and societies and still managed to keep an impressive 3.9 GPA. Tiffany is driven by the purpose of making a positive difference in this world. She wants to help people, inspire them, she wants to have an impact and leave a legacy. With this in mind she has chosen to Study Abroad in Northern Ireland for a unique program learning about the historical roots of the three-decade long conflict called the Troubles.

Tiffany likes to plan ahead of time and therefore, she will most likely be working as a master’s practicing social worker when she comes back from her trip. Her long term goal is to be working with community agencies that work to help strengthen communities.

To check out Tiffany’s Mission and donate to her cause, click here!

 

The Abroad 101 Student of the Week initiative awards a student who created a Mission for a study abroad program on GoEnnounce with a donation to their fundraiser. Learn more about this partnership from Abroad101 CEO Mark Shay and GoEnnounce founder Melissa Davis here.

Stay tuned for our next Abroad101 Students of the Week!

Abroad101 January 2017 Students of the Week

 

Abroad101 donates to study abroad fundraisers that are set up by hopeful students who want to study abroad. Working together with GoEnnounce we choose a student mission to be highlighted and then award a donation to start off the fundraising efforts. January 2017 students winners tell us about their coming study abroad trips to Spain and London.
Diamond Madison, is our 108th Abroad101 Student of the Week winner! She is currently a sociology major at Elizabeth City State University.  In addition to her involvement in school activities, extracurriculars and community service, Diamond contributes her time to many clubs and societies, including the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) and Uniting Black Colleges and Universities (UBCU). She has also received a scholarship from the Creative Corrections Education Foundation.

Diamond will be studying abroad in Barcelona with EF College Study Tours from the 10th to the 16th of March 2017. She studied Spanish for three years in high school and is very much looking forward to immersing herself further into the Spanish culture. During her trip, she will be visiting Las Ramblas, La Padrera, Barrio Gotico and many more exciting locations.

Traveling abroad can be expensive, so Diamond has created a GoEnnounce Mission for her trip. Donations will be used to pay for meals, passport and traveling expenses. We wish Diamond all the best in Barcelona and hope that she will have a life changing experience there!

To check out Diamond’s Mission and donate to her cause, click here!

 

Congratulations to Ashley Terry, our 109th Abroad101 Student of the Week winner! Currently a college freshman at Western Kentucky University, majoring in advertising and minoring in business with a concentration in non-profit work, Ashley hopes to eventually work for a non-profit organization.

This study abroad program will take place in London through The Cooperative Center for Study Abroad (CCSA).  During her trip, she will stay in the Southwark area of London and study with faculty and students from other CCSA-member schools at the University of London King’s College Waterloo Campus.

Weekend excursions will include visits to Stonehenge, Edinburg, Salisbury and Alnwick Castle . Ashley will have the opportunity to appreciate European architecture, food and the many different art forms.

Ashley cannot wait to study abroad in London! She has created a Mission on GoEnnounce.com for her trip. She will use the donations to pay for her meals, books, course materials and traveling expenses.

We wish Ashley all the best in London and hope that she will have a life changing experience there!

To check out Ashley’s Mission and donate to her cause, click here!

 

The 110th Abroad101 Student of the Week winner is Douglas Sloan! Douglas, a senior at Augusta University in Georgia, aspires to become a physician. Once he graduates, his plan is to enter a medical school, with a goal to someday practice in the rural regions of the United States. As he is minoring in Spanish, he hopes to be able to use his foreign language skills to help people.

To reach his goal, Douglas decided to go study abroad in Spain.  He believes that it is a unique and amazing opportunity to be able to go study abroad, not only because he’ll be able to fully experience a different culture and environment, but also because it is going to help him understand better the fundamentals of the Spanish language.

We wish Douglas all the best in Spain and hope that he will have a life changing experience there!

To check out Douglas’ Mission and donate to his cause, click here!

 

The Abroad 101 Student of the Week initiative awards a student who created a Mission for a study abroad program on GoEnnounce with a donation to their fundraiser. Learn more about this partnership from Abroad101 CEO Mark Shay and GoEnnounce founder Melissa Davis here.

Stay tuned for our next Abroad101 Students of the Week!

5 Online Jobs You Can Do from Anywhere

job-search

If you’re thinking about studying abroad, you may be worried about saving enough cash to make it to the end of the semester. Let’s face it, no one wants to spend their evenings inside their apartment eating noodles from a cup when they should be enjoying the local cuisine.

While some countries may allow you to work part-time legally, it can be hard to find a job that fits in with your study and provides a regular source of income. The last thing you want is to commit to regular hours and miss out on spontaneous student events, or not have enough time to study for exams. So if you want to find work that fits in with your schedule (not the other way around), check out these 5 online jobs you can do from anywhere:

  1. Designer

web-design

Pretty much everyone has a blog these days and if you don’t have the money to create your own webpage just yet, you can start off with a simple WordPress blog or Facebook page. With the continued rise in internet subscriptions and smartphone users, the need for websites and apps has never been higher.

Which means that a good designer will never be without work. You can decide to specialize in websites, mobile apps, or graphic design and work the hours with the clients that suit you.

How much you’ll make as a freelance designer depends on how much work you’re willing to put in. You may need to make an investment in time to start off with, while you improve your skills and study the market.

The Catch?

You have to know about design. At least the basics, which means brushing up on some courses before you go. Try learning about basic design and how to make simple WordPress sites for free on YouTube, or pay for an inexpensive course on a site like teachable or udemy.com.

 

  1. Translator

chalkboardBeing in a foreign country doesn’t make you fluent in the language. And being fluent in the language doesn’t make you a translator. But if you have language proficiency and time on your hands, you don’t always need a fancy qualification to translate for certain projects.

The more experience you have, the more you can charge and you’re qualified, you can apply to sites like Day Translations and forums, such as Translators Café. What’s the best thing about working as a freelance translator? You get to practice your language skills every day, while studying in the country of your choice.

The Catch?

You need to be fluent in two languages minimum and have a natural ability to translate. Not everyone has this gift – translating can be hard – but if you want to give it a try, there are plenty of companies crying out for this necessary service.

 

  1. Writer

computerIf you have a romantic image of writers, sitting down scribbling away in a book, then erase that from your brain if you want to make money. Writing tends to be undervalued and underpaid. It can be very hard to get clients when you’re first starting out and don’t have any published work to show.

But if you’re serious about writing, sit down and come up with a few articles that you think will be of interest for the sites that you like reading. Perhaps you can relate them to your area of study, or working and learning abroad. A lot of sites will take well-written posts and publish them. Not many will pay you, but you’ll get the benefit of your name in print and be able to show examples to future clients.

The Catch?

Not very well paid to start out with and you’ll need to write well, but also learn to write quickly. If you’re getting paid $15 an article and it takes you 5 hours, you’re not going to make much extra.

 

  1. Programmer

desk

Hand in hand with designers, programmers are always in demand these days. Especially good ones, so the more time you can dedicate to improving your skills and extending your portfolio of programming languages, the better.

While you don’t necessarily have to have a degree in computer science to be a freelance programmer, if you want to work with larger companies, you’ll be competing with people who do. But to kick-start your efforts at making part time money, try taking a course online and signing up to GitHub for peer support and advice.

The Catch?

You need a certain type of personality to be a programmer and not everyone has the patience. It can be quite stressful when people rely on you to make sure that their site functions correctly.

  1. English Teacher

englishTeaching English will always be in high-demand, even if you’re in an English-speaking country, thanks to the rise in immigration. As the rest of the world tries to keep up with digitalization and globalization, everyone wants to learn English.

You don’t even have to do this face-to-face anymore or stand in classroom in front of a group of students. There are a bunch of companies offering English teaching online and you can teach per hour from the comfort of your apartment.

The Catch?

You’re not going to be a millionaire teaching English online, but it’s a relatively easy way of making sure you have enough money not to miss out on anything fun. Some companies require a university degree or TEFL course, so you may not be able to apply to all positions.

 

The Takeaway

Studying abroad can be the best experience of your life and enrich your future in so many ways. But running out of money and having to pass up on festival, concert, or outing can be frustrating.

With minimal effort, you can hone your skills, whether you like to write, speak languages, or are more tech savvy. Then you can use this knowledge to make money online from anywhere in the world. No visas, no commitment, just you and your computer managing your schedule.

 

Author Bio:

sean-hopwoodSean Hopwood, MBA is founder and President of Day Translations, Inc., an online certified translation services provider, dedicated to the improvement of global communications. By helping both corporations and the individual, Day Translations provides a necessary service at the same time as developing opportunities for greater sympathy and understanding worldwide.

 

Studying Abroad Online vs Classroom Education

 

Plenty of wise men throughout the years have stated that true education is a never-ending process. Whether you aim to maximize your income prospects or if you simply want to know more about the world we live in, there can be no doubt that furthering your education is one of the best roads you can take in life.  Combining travel and studies has been show to provide a powerful combination of experiences and give students not only a memorable experience, it is often referred to as life changing. Not too many college alumni will say a campus-based Chemistry class was life-changing, but if that course was taken while the student was overseas, then wow!

Whereas once upon a time the only way to earn college credit was by physically attending a place of learning, nowadays the online revolution has swept up the educational system as well. In fact, in this day and age you can even study abroad online, as many top schools throughout the world allow students of all nationalities to earn prestigious degrees without ever setting foot in a classroom.  If you have the discipline to balance both study and travel, then you might want to create your own personal hybrid program and take online courses while you trek.

 

Cost

In most parts of the world, getting a good education isn’t cheap. With skyrocketing tuition costs and relatively meager employment prospects for recent grads, it’s fair to wonder if higher education is actually worth the investment. Additionally, going the traditional route will also lead to incurring substantial fees for room and board, plus all the extra costs related to moving to another country. Opting for an online education tends to be comparatively cheaper overall, especially when it comes to schools that focus solely on long distance learning and have lower overhead costs as a result.

Accessibility

A significant part of the traditional college experience is related to the idea of going away to another part of the country or the world, where new people and experiences await. While this kind of thing can undoubtedly seem exciting when you’re young, for people who already have to balance familial obligations and maybe even a full-time job with their educational goals, it often is a bridge too far. Online education comes with the possibility of handling coursework right from the comforts of your home, which doesn’t require any commute time at all. But some online education providers also offer the possibility of traveling to their respective learning facilities on short-term internships, thus giving prospective students the chance to broaden their cultural horizons as well.

Experience

The feeling of being in a classroom surrounded by your peers is something that’s treasured by many, and it’s a big part of why traditional education is still the norm all over the world. But online education has also come a long way from its humble beginnings, with schools now boasting cutting edge online platforms replete with videoconferencing options and personalized mentors. Of course, not actually being in a classroom means you can self-regulate study pace, thus allowing you to complete a course on your own schedule, with dedicated teachers just a click away to provide support whenever you need it.

Course accreditation

By receiving accreditation conferred to it by a respected external body, an institute of learning receives an official seal of approval that certifies its tional programs. In most countries, this kind of quality assurance is provided by a government organization, and can be of great importance when looking for employment later on. In this regard online schools have traditionally lagged behind their competition, but nowadays a simple online search is all you need to find out if the program you’re thinking about applying for is accredited or not.

Directional City Signs

Overall effectiveness

Probably the most important thing about earning a diploma is its inherent value in finding a great job. To that end, it can be useful to check the track record of all your prospective schools and see what their post-graduate employment levels look like. If you’re looking for immediate employment, you’ll often find that online institutions tend to focus more on teaching you job-ready skills in growing industries such as Accounting or Workplace Health and Safety than traditional learning facilities. Additionally, reputable institutions will also have a dedicated network of alumni, whom you can contact to learn more about how they benefited from attending their respective schools.

 

It’s clear to see that studying abroad online offers all the benefits typically associated with traditional classroom education, while also being considerably cheaper and more accessible. It may not be for everyone, as some people will likely miss the feeling of being in a real classroom, but for those who enjoy its myriad perks, online education can be a real game-changer.

 

Confirm the Quality

Before you make your final choice it is important to confirm you plans with an advisor to make sure your plans are in synch with your educational goals.  For those earned academic credits to help you in your career, you do want to make sure they are credible, recognized and applicable.

5 Reasons to Intern Abroad in Cuba

Capitolio building Havana, Cuba with vintage old american cars

Capitolio building in Havana, Cuba with vintage American cars

With the historic visit of President Barack Obama, along with numerous other celebrities who have flocked to the “Pearl of the Carribbean”, -including The Rolling Stones, Beyoncé, Jay-Z and the Kardashians, to name a few,- Cuba is a trendy place to be. Here’s why you, too, should consider not only a visit, but an internship abroad on the beautiful island.

  1. Take advantage of the historic moment

After over 50 years, commercial flights from the U.S. to Cuba have started again just this year, as The New York Times reports here. There’s no Starbucks on every corner (yet) and no McDonald’s either (also yet).

For some fields, such as journalism, this is a particularly exciting time to report on Cuba. By completing a journalism internship abroad in Cuba, you can get a head-start on your future career, and return home with a portfolio of published work about a country that is continually in the news.

  1. Boost your CV with a great adventure

    TRINIDAD CUBA - SEPTEMBER 12 2015: Cienfuegos is a charming waterfront city situated on the bay of the same name.

    On the way to Trinidad, Cuba, a UNESCO World Heritage city

An internship abroad will boost your CV and increase your chances of getting hired, as a recent IES study reports. Combine that with a great adventure, traveling to a country that has

been off limits to the general U.S. population for such a long time. Those who have visited Cuba will be able to tell you it is like traveling back in time; cowboys, horses, carriages and more still abound in colonial cities like Trinidad.

  1. Gain international experience and improve your Spanish

Interning abroad in Cuba is not the same an interning back in the U.S. An article in Entrepreneur.com reported that “the average internship at home doesn’t even begin to compare to living in a foreign city, learning new things and enjoying cultural differences while gaining invaluable career experience.”

International experience can give you a head-start when it comes to future job applications. In upcoming interviews, you can cite examples of the cross-cultural communication skills you acquired when collaborating with the locals, which is particularly useful in career fields such as non-profits, international agencies, and can even come in handy at bilingual law firms, which brings us to the next point.

  1. Improve your Spanish skills
    Portrait of cuban woman in Havana, Cuba

    Portrait of a Cuban woman in Havana, Cuba

    Spanish is more and more widespread in the U.S., and in some jobs, a requirement. We particularly recommend staying at “casas particulares”, meaning family-owned homes, throughout Cuba. Here, you will have a Cuban family at your disposal at all times, allowing you to gain insight into their local culture, and helping your practice your language skills. Many of them are keen to learn English, so you could even do an “intercambio,” meaning that you speak to them in English for 30 minutes, for example, and then they speak to you in Spanish for another 30 minutes. Be curious and ask lots of questions!

  1. Experience the local Cuban lifestyle and landscapes
Camaguey Cuba old town listed on UNESCO World Heritage

Camagüey, Cuba, another UNESCO World Heritage Site

Beautiful white cabriolet vintage car before the beach in Varadero Cuba

Beautiful white cabriolet vintage car at the beach in Cuba

Cuban people are some of the friendliest in the world, as many tourists will tell you. Here’s just a few ideas for what else you could be doing in your free time in Cuba. Some internship programs, such as those we run at RGNN Academy, include many of these directly in the program:

  • Visit UNESCO World Heritage sites such as Cienfuegos, Camagüey and Trinidad
  • Trace the footsteps of Hemingway in the capital Havana
  • Lay on the crystal clear beaches
  • Travel through the Viñales Valley to explore sugar and tobacco plantations
  • Try your hand at Cuban salsa and listen to Cuban music
  • Come watch a Cuban baseball game
  • Check out the classic cars in Havana and all across the island

Don’t miss this unique momento to intern abroad in Cuba! You won’t regret it!

 

About the author

Andoni Bengoechea Puigvert is the International Programs Coordinator at ROOSTERGNN Global News Network and ROOSTERGNN Academy, where he supervises the Travel Journalism & Photography Internship Seminars in Madrid, Spain and Cuba (http://rgnn.org/academy/). Connect with him on RGNN’s social media profiles: Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram, or sign up for the RGNN Newsletter.

This Week’s Abroad101 Cool Program is AIFS in Cannes, France

france-cannes-aifs2

Known worldwide for a film festival, Cannes is a vibrant seaside city in the South of France.  More than just a Mediterranean beach resort, this week’s Cool Program is AIFS in Cannes where as a student you can see much of what tourists miss.  Spend a semester, academic year, Maymester or summer studying at the Collège International de Cannes where courses are taught in English or French. No previous French language study is required, but if you want to really boost your French, you can choose an optional homestay.

france-cannes-aifsLive on campus in the residence hall overlooking the Mediterranean Sea or immerse yourself in the culture living in a French homestay.
You’ll enjoy cultural and social activities such as day trips to St. Tropez, Monaco, Antibes, Grasse and Ile Sainte Marguerite. A 4-day trip to Paris and 2-day trip to Provence are also included. Optional excursions include a 3-day trip to Florence, Italy and a 2-night London stopover before the start of the program. Summer students choose a 4, 6, 8, 10 or 12 week program, with four different sessions available. AIFS offers a Maymester Program to coincide with the Cannes Film Festival, and spring semester students have the opportunity to intern or volunteer during this world-renowned festival.

To learn more or apply to this program please visit:

https://www.studyabroad101.com/programs/aifs-cannes-college-international-de-cannes

Need a Great College Essay Topic? Learn about our Cool Program of the Week on Abroad101

experiment-in-int-living2

This week’s cool program is for those thinking about college, consider The Experiment in International Living next summer.  Small groups of students pursue a common theme by learning and visiting notable sites, then immerse in the local culture with a home stay.  Life-Changing is a common comment, plus you can tell your parents it will give you a GREAT TOPIC for your COLLEGE ESSAY!

It’s for High School Students –

The Experiment provides 3-, 4-, and 5-week summer programs for high school students who want to connect deeply and engage meaningfully with the richness and complexities of another country.

Programs equip students not only with essential cultural and, in many cases, language skills, but also with a deeper awareness of and sensitivity to global issues shaping the diverse communities and regions we visit. Students explore the host country through hands-on experiences in local communities and through the lens of a specific theme.

The Experiment groups are small, typically comprising 10–15 students who represent a range of backgrounds. Experimenters should expect to learn about the diverse cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds that exist within the US and around the world.

To learn more or apply to this program please visit:

https://www.studyabroad101.com/programs/the-experiment-in-international-living-extraordinary-high-school-summer-abroad-programs

Leave your Kids (Abroad) Alone

two gifts quote

The year: 1986. The place: My childhood home in NY. The scene: The kitchen where a tan, old school phone with an unruly curly cord hangs on the wall. The language: Portuguese.

On one end of the phone was Sergio, my exchange student “brother” from São Paulo, Brasil. On the other end, what felt like a million miles away, were his parents.   Receiving a call from them was a BIG deal back then. With that phone call Sergio morphed from my English speaking, high school attending “brother” into a young boy from São Paulo who spoke a foreign language. To me, it felt like a completely different person was standing in the kitchen speaking loudly into the phone. The connections weren’t great back then and the call surely was expensive. Magically, with the click of the receiver, American Sergio returned to our family’s view.

Today, Sergio’s son, Gabriel, is living in my home as a year long high school exchange student. As I write this, he is at varsity (American) football practice. He is as adventurous as his brave dad was back in 1986, playing a sport he had only watched tirelessly on TV and the internet.

As a result, I have a bird’s eye view of what it means to be a parent and to miss your child when s/he is abroad. I see Gabi adapting to his new home city, processing and speaking in English 24/7, eager to engage in the world around him. And through Facebook chat and video, I hear his parents’ bellowing in pain from missing their beloved son. As a parent myself to a 20 month old, I can only begin to appreciate what another 14 years of time with my child will translate to when he eventually heads abroad for an extended period one day.

Yet, I cannot help but reflect back on that very vivid scene of Sergio talking with his parents on the phone. So what does any good interculturalist do upon reflection? She asks questions! I logged into Facebook and called Sergio in Brasil to ask him about how he is coping with his son’s absence AND to discuss his family’s plans to come to the US to spend time with us over the holidays. Yes, despite the title of this piece, Sergio and his family WILL come visit us this winter.

Sergio and family

My “brother” Sergio and son, Gabriel approximately 13 years ago. His wife (left) and I (right) hold their twin daughters. Photo taken in Brasil on New Year’s Eve (2002)?

I reflected with Sergio about the scenario above. He thought about it briefly and stated that it is much easier to talk to his son than it was for his parents, yet he has to restrain himself from doing so every day. He wants to talk about the latest Jason Bourne movie that he saw after he heard that Gabi and my husband, Tony, went to the premiere together last week – something they would have done together if Gabi were home in Brasil. He wanted to hear all about his first day of American football practice. He wants to know what he thinks of our city, our home, and what it is like to have a 20 month old brother after having sisters. It is natural to want to stay connected to your child, but Sergio knows how important it is that he allow him space during this tender period of being a new exchange student.   He remembers well how he immersed so seamlessly into our family and community in New York…and how he wants that joy for his own son. He and his wife have told me many times – no matter how much they miss him, they are more happy for him than anything.

I called another friend whose two daughters are both abroad – one is in Europe for 3 weeks while the other is on a study abroad program for a semester. I asked her about how she is adapting to the absence of her girls. Her response was that she misses them but has been very careful not to over communicate in that fragile first week or two, as that is when the bonding needs to happen. They don’t schedule times to talk and she has only “facetimed” once with her daughter in Europe.   She finds it strange that they have had the occasion to text their daughter in South America for random things (e.g. what is the Netflix password!) but otherwise they’re intentionally keeping some distance. When I asked if they planned to visit their elder daughter at the end of her study abroad program they said they’re thinking about it. When I pushed further, she indicated that they felt it would be okay to visit at the end of her semester program as it would give her a chance to show confidence in the language and experience without interrupting her studies. They would not visit if the program were shorter than a semester and wouldn’t do so in the middle of the program – and they may not even do so.

Sergio said the same – if Gabi were coming to the US for a few months only, he’d not plan to visit. But he is adamant that a visiting over the holidays for two weeks when his son will be here for an entire 12 months is acceptable because they won’t interrupt his studies, sports, or friends’ gatherings.

Why should a loving parent not visit a son or daughter on study abroad? After all, you miss each other, so what is the harm in doing so?

There are my two reasons NOT to visit your child on study abroad:

  • You may interrupt their flow: Study abroad requires immersion, space to make mistakes, learn a new language, gain confidence, engage in a new way of being in this world. When you visit your child while on a shorter term study abroad program, you unintentionally are stepping into his/her ability to find and maintain flow in their new surroundings. It is analogous to having to hit pause in your daily life to trot your parents to see everything that you’re experiencing in record time, doing none of it justice. It also doesn’t allow for your child to reflect deeply on the experiences, places and people that are just beginning to capture their attention. If you “leave them be” they will simply have more time to participate in their new culture and to let the new connections in their brains form solid pathways without having to revert back to what they know, their default way of being. So, don’t interrupt their flow, no matter how much they tell you that you HAVE to come to try the gelato in their favorite shop in Venice.
  • Your child will become more independent and learn more life skills: If you stay away from that airport you will likely observe, upon his/her return, that you gifted your child with a better chance of kicking independence into high gear. I see it with Gabi – he is speaking in English only, asking questions of others to gain information that helps him navigate his surroundings, engaging in new friendships even though it is scary to approach people you don’t know, washing his own laundry, unloading the dishwasher, making his own lunch, talking with his football coaches directly, and so much more. If you want an independent kid, don’t get on a plane and ask your child to hit pause on growth in their new home country in exchange for the ability to educate you and reinforce their learning for you. They will tell you ALL about it when they’re home while showing you their confidence and how empowered they have become. Additionally, if you’re willing to wait that long, you may find that you are truly the only person on the planet willing to sit through all 7,000 photos and hear all of the stories – an opportunity to bond with each other in a reflective learning space – and they’ll certainly appreciate that.

As difficult as it is to not get on the plane, staying home also offers YOU an opportunity for growth. What can you do with your time instead of checking in on your child? Here are 3 ideas:

  • Engage in new activities: Sergio started going to the gym each day, as he has found a lot more free time since his son is away for the year. Perhaps you can surprise your child by studying the language class of his/her study abroad country at home. With less face to face time with your beloved child, you have a chance to find your inner child! Sign up for an art class, join a book club, or pull out that list of places locally you have been meaning to visit. Take your child’s adventurous spirit and apply it at home.
  • Reconsider your adult relationship: Your child will eventually return home with a heightened maturity. Think about how you can relate to your “baby” as an adult – someone who has not only ventured away for college, but to an entirely new country and language. Make a list of items to discuss with him/her upon return such as “What has changed for you and how can we incorporate that into our home?” and “What do I need to be aware of to be supportive during your transition home?”
  • Talk to YOUR parents: Reflect on your own transitions in life and how your own relationship with your parents ebbed and flowed over the years. What stands out for you? When did you most need them to let you cut the apron strings? How did they deal with you taking the leap and trusting the net would appear? Journal some of these memories to rely on when your own child needs space and freedom from the family unit.

With that said, Sergio and I are planning for his family’s visit over the winter holidays. We decided that a year IS a really long time not to see your child and that we want to support a wonderful gathering, not only for his own family but for Sergio to visit his New York “hometown” for a reunion of host parents, friends, teachers, and families. I look forward to such a reflective experience, not only with him, but with his son too.

What are your thoughts about letting a son or daughter navigate the education abroad experience without a visit from a parent? I invite you to comment below!

 

missy gluckman

 

Missy Gluckmann is a traveler, educator, interculturalist, trainer, speaker and career coach specializing in international education and careers across cultures. Originally from New York, she has lived abroad three times, most recently in Cuenca, Ecuador, and is currently enjoying the gorgeous mountains of Asheville, North Carolina. She founded Melibee Global and Better Abroad as a way to inject creative tools into international education, with an emphasis on study abroad. You can connect with on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.