How-To: Talk To Your Parents About Study Abroad

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Deciding to study abroad is a big, but exciting, step. The opportunities are endless for a student wanting to experience the challenge of studying in a different country, but one challenge to face before you begin is getting your parents approval and/or financial assistance. Follow these tips to prepare yourself and your case before bringing the idea of studying abroad to your parents.

Do Your Research

Before you bring it up to your parents, do your research. Make sure that you know what you want to do, and anticipate questions that your parents will have. Some parents frequently asked questions can be found here.

  1. Course Credit

Won’t this make you fall behind in your studies?

All semester programs offer courses that transfer into EIU credit. The number of semester hours offered depends on the program so do your research, and know what classes your program provides. On summer programs, you are earning course credit where you would not have been if you stayed home. Our summer programs offer a wide range of courses, so again, do your research and know what you want to take, and how it will count, before speaking to your parents. Go to our Couse Finder to see which courses you can take that transfer into EIU credit.

  1. Financial Aid

How are we going to pay for this? We don’t have the money for that.

The Study Abroad Office has many options for financial aid and scholarships. With both of these, you can lower your out-of-pocket cost significantly. Make sure to ask to an advisor in our office about scholarships that you are eligible for and due dates. Also check out the Financial Aid section of our webpage.

  1. Safety Precautions

How will I know you are going to be safe in a foreign country?

Everyone involved with the Study Abroad program is intent on your safety. It can be scary to think about something happening so far away, but measures are in place to make sure that you are being taken care of while you are studying abroad. Check out our page on Health and Safety.

  1. Staying in Touch

But I’ll miss you too much if you’re so far away!

Sending you to college was already a big step for your parents; the thought for you in another country is scary for them. There are many ways that you and your parents can stay in touch while you are abroad, whether that be for the summer or for a whole year. Check out our page on keeping in touch.

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Timing

Timing is key when approaching your parents about studying abroad. Make sure that you bring it up in a moment of happiness and relaxation. If your parents just got off work, had to deal with traffic, and now has to deal with your whining sibling, that’s probably not the best time to bring up something like studying abroad. Make sure that you time the discussion so that you have time to have a discussion.

Be Assertive but Respectful

Make sure when you are speaking to your parents that your tone of voice never reaches anything that can be called disrespectful, but at the same time do not back down. Answer your parents’ concerns with facts, and make sure they know you are serious and that studying abroad is not just a passing whim. If you present yourself as a mature adult making an informed decision, they will be more likely to treat you like one. Sometimes your parents just want to feel like they are part of your decision. It might be a good idea to have multiple options so that your parents can help you narrow it down. If there are still issues, do not be afraid to compromise. Studying abroad may not be possible this year/semester. Have a plan B program and make sure to bring up studying abroad next year/semester.

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For information from previous Study Abroad students, come to our panel discussion on April 21st in the Casey Room in the Union!

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Demystifying Hostels: 4 Reasons to Ignore the Horror Stories

Forget the stories you’ve heard about horrifying hostel experiences. Hostels are not at all terrifying places that should be avoided. Many can actually be rather enjoyable, and can even save you loads of cash.

Save money
Those are great words to hear, especially when it comes to travel. You have already been paying airfare, fees, and countless other expenses to see the world, so saving a little money here and there can be a big help. Some hostels can be as little as $5 per night. Hostels are a great alternative to staying in a pricey hotel or apartment, and they can have a whole lot of other benefits as well!

Meet lifelong friends from around the world
One of the best parts of staying in a hostel is the people you will meet. Living in close quarters with a bunch of people that you do not know can make you feel uncomfortable, but you will quickly become close friends with many of them and will have the opportunity to hear many unique and interesting stories about other people’s travels. You may even meet people that have great travel tips for you that can be a big help during your trip. Stepping out of your comfort zone to meet other people from around the world will result in an experience that you will not regret.

The Hostel in Edinburgh, Scotland

The Hostel in Edinburgh, Scotland

Weekend trips on a budget
Hostels are a perfect choice for weekend excursions while studying abroad. Taking weekend trips to neighboring countries or cities is common while abroad, and a great opportunity for seeing the world on a budget. You can find affordable hostels to stay in for the weekend that can save you heaps of money on your weekend adventure.

Livingstone Backpackers in Livingstone, Zambia

Livingstone Backpackers in Livingstone, Zambia

Spur of the Moment Experience
Staying in a hostel you are likely to meet other people and find that they are doing something more exciting than what you had planned or something new you had not heard about before. This gives you the option to be spontaneous and tag along with your new friends on an adventure and get the most out of your travels.

Have a hostel experience to share? Tell us in the comments!

Traveling Europe while Abroad

Studying abroad in Florence, Italy was a remarkable travel experience in itself. However, due to ample amount of time overseas and yearning to explore, I decided with conscious pre-planning and budgeting to set sail from my home away from home in Florence and discover new cultures in the European countries of Greece, Spain, and France.

My first adventure began with an overnight cruise to the island of Corfu, Greece. My friends and I booked the trip with the #1 European Travel Company Bus2alps, and had a memorable time on their planned excursion. During my time in Greece I jumped the waves in the Ionian Sea, devoured one too many gyros, and even attempted to learn a traditional Greek celebratory dance, key word- attempted.

Next on my travel list was a sporadic trip to Barcelona, Spain.  Two friends and I decided to book a flight with Ryan Air to what later became my favorite visited country outside of Italy.  My first stop in Barcelona was the warm beach on the Mediterranean Sea, followed by a night of shopping down the city’s most famous streets, “Las Ramblas.” While making my way through the city I viewed the enchanting Sagrada Família Cathedral, and thankfully discovered the Spanish delicacy, Paella, which quickly became my new favorite dish!

Before my time abroad came to an end, friends and I booked one last excursion to the French Riviera. Our primary bus stop was to the popular city of Nice, where I admired oceanic views as well as inspiring French couture. In between our destinations, my friends and I took a train ride to Monte Carlo, Monaco to gamble at the world famous Monte Carlo Casino, which consequently was a loss in euros, but a gain in wonderful memories! My journey ended in the city of Cannes, where movie stars around the world gather for the annual film festival.

These three trips fulfilled my experience abroad, and allowed myself to come home a more adventurous, knowledgeable, and cultured individual. Traveling while studying abroad is a factor I am most grateful to have experienced, and has inspired me to voyage to other new and intriguing destinations in my future.