Studying abroad: How to convince your parents
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Studying abroad: How to convince your parents

Studying abroad: How to convince your parents

There is not an ounce of doubt when we say that studying abroad will change your life. Not only does it offer you the chance to experience other cultures, learn new languages and of course, ‘see the world’, but thinking globally also provides access to diverse approaches to tuition that may be inaccessible in other countries. To top it all off, international study will place you in a better position to compete within today’s increasingly global economy. That said, those considering taking the plunge and applying to study overseas may find that it can be hard to break the news to their family. Even if you’ve lived away from home before- perhaps you’ve even lived overseas- studying abroad could still be a touchy issue for your parents and loved ones to grasp.

So, what’s the key to overcoming their concerns? Empathy. Place yourself in their shoes and try to understand their reservations. Let’s take a look at the reasons why they might be less than enthused about the possibility of you leaving, before giving you the tools you’ll need to be able to convince them otherwise.

Reasons why they don’t want you to go:

1) They’re afraid of missing out on a huge part of your life

The timescales involved in studying abroad are massively varied. Perhaps you’d like to go abroad for a two-week language course, or maybe for a whole semester. You might even be thinking about doing an entire undergraduate degree or going abroad to work towards a doctorate.Either way, for some parents, the thought of not being able to witness first-hand the everyday happenings of your life, even with the really boring bits, is difficult to handle.

2) They worry that you won’t be safe

This is the absolute biggest fear any parent can have. If you’re moving to the big bad city, like perhaps New York or Shanghai, your parents might be worried about the crime rates in your area- and once an idea is in their head, they’re bound to imagine the worse. Then there’s the disaster scenario: what can your parents do in the case of an emergency if you are now living on an entirely different continent? If they don’t have the spare cash for inordinately expensive flights, or correct entry permissions to your new country of residence, their options are going to be extremely limited. If you suffer any form of medical condition that requires regular attention, this fear is likely to be amplified tenfold.

3) You’re entering the Great Unknown

It’s a well-known fact that humans possess an innate fear of the unknown. If your parents aren’t well acquainted with international travel or if they have never lived abroad, it’s a concept that’s going to feel strange and completely alien to them. If you come from a family where higher education, let alone studying in another country, is a completely foreign concept, this could be the biggest potential stumbling block.

How you can convince them that it’s all going to be okay:

1) Be sure to tell them just how great it’s going to be!

Your parents need to know that you’re really excited about this opportunity, and that you genuinely feel that it’s the right choice for you. If you are not convinced, you can almost guarantee that they won’t be, either.

2) Show them the money

As grown adults, your parents will be sensible to the idea that money matters, even if cost is not their number one concern when it comes to your education. It may even be that studying abroad is comparatively cheaper than in your own country. For instance, many American doctoral programmes include a Masters degree, are tuition-free and pay students a stipend for their study. British undergraduate fees are, in contrast, sometimes less expensive than their American counterparts. Even if the course you want to apply for is not immediately cheaper than some others closer to home, show them that your rate of potential earnings after graduation is likely to be higher than if you completed a course of study within your home country.

3) Show them how they can keep in touch

We all know that applications like Skype, Viber, WhatsApp and Snapchat are great tools for keeping in touch – but do your parents? Showing them how they can easily send pictures, messages and videos will make them feel like they have a window into your life. They can see what you’ve been up to on a day-to-day basis, and can also easily check that you’re safe. Best of all, by using these apps in particular, you can select exactly what your parents get to see, meaning they never have to encounter a single tagged photo of you drunk in a bar, passed out on a doorstep or performing public nudity. And believe it or not, your parents are actually great people to share snaps with. Who wants to see your failed bakes or what you made for dinner? In reality, probably not that many people- but your Mum and Dad are your biggest fans and they will definitely love it!

4) Let them help you

If and when you have persuaded them that you should enrol on a course abroad, you then have to handle the whole process of applying and moving. Even if you’re usually, wilfully, stubbornly and fiercely independent, you have to allow them to feel like they are participating in this big change in your life. Let’s face it: no one likes to play the helpless bystander.

Accept help, even if you normally wouldn’t. The help can take many varied forms; asking for assistance in proof-reading an application statement is a good way to show them exactly what you’re going to study and why you want to do it. It will also make them burst with pride when they read all the amazing things you’ve already done on top of what you’re about to achieve. Plus, it will feel as if you’re all working as a team to help you reach your goal.

Accepting financial help can be a little harder, but as long as your parents are not attempting to give beyond their means, and it won’t upset other family members if you accept their offer, this can be a truly significant gesture. Very often, parents and family members won’t know of any other way that they can help you out, so if they want to buy you a new suitcase or get you a bit of foreign currency, be aware that turning down this offer can be deeply hurtful. No parent wants their child to leave for another country and feel as if they’re now extraneous to their child’s life.

Ultimately, if you’re considering the possibility of studying abroad, there’s no doubt that it’s an opportunity worth pursuing for a thousand different reasons. The decision to move abroad, however, is not just a change that affects your life, but one that affects your whole family.

And, if there’s just one thing that you definitely need to remember, it’s this: parents are people too – so be nice.

Image via Shutterstock.

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