Besides the free trial of adulthood without consequences, college life offers one of the most valuable perks of young adulthood: study abroad. Not only do we get to go to school, study and meet great people, but we also have the opportunity to travel and learn in a whole new country for far less money than it would cost postgrad. The tricky part though? Knowing how to convince your parents.
These tips and tricks from real world student travelers tell you how to convince your parents to let you study abroad.
1. Have a good reason to go
The possibility of breaking your Instagram likes record and your desire to go where you’ve already passed the legal drinking age won’t convince your parents. Most study abroad programs (and parents) want students who have a legitimate reason to go. Most applications and interviews ask how you expect to benefit from this trip. But of course, you will have a fun time as well. “I want to study abroad because I want to learn more about Mexican culture in an incredibly immersive, fun, new environment. I also want to improve my Spanish skills,” sophomore at UC Berkeley Natalie Musick said. Legit, right? Make sure your parents know you’ll be doing more than just drinking Modelos on a Mexican beach.
2. Fund it yourself
Work, Work, Work (like Rihanna). Get a job and get paid. When you pay your own way, your parents have no financial reason to say no. “I paid for it myself using money I had saved from working, and I didn’t need to convince my parents at all, they were very encouraging for me to go see a new part of the world,” senior at UCSB Michelle Wagner said.
3. Apply for a scholarship to fund your way there
Lucky for you, most study abroad programs offer scholarships and financial aid packages for those who really want to go but may need extra help. “I was lucky that I received a scholarship that funded most of my trip. I had to save a lot the semester prior to going abroad as well. With the scholarship and other financial aid sources that payed most of my program cost, I was able to use my savings and some money from my parents to pay for side trips and other adventures,” senior at UC Berkeley Alejandra Leynez said. Mo’ scholarships, mo’ money for souvenirs.
4. Find a program that works for you
Sometimes your parents don’t want you going to your first choice destination, but might live with your second. Do your research. Universities offer different programs and in some cases you can apply to a study abroad program through a different university if your school doesn’t have the program you want. Make sure to choose a track related to your major or career aspirations. “I want to go to Mexico,” said Musick. Inspired by her Latin neighborhood/community, she would love to experience the country for herself. “I’m a STEM and pre-med student and I know that a lot of my patient load will speak Spanish.”
5. Get some insight
Educate yourself on the different options, the benefits and the drawbacks of studying abroad. Make sure to plan ahead for your trip. You can’t just pack up a bag and fly across the world. You need to stay informed and educated. Have a talk over coffee with people who have done study abroad. Talk to experts who can give you detail on the process. Make sure that you have all the classes and units you need in order to stay on track to graduate.
“Aside from my love for travel and exploring new places, many people I knew that graduate from Berkeley highly recommended study abroad. Most of the people I knew studies abroad for a whole semester and said it was the best part of their time in college. Hearing them remember studying abroad with such lively spirits really pushed me to seek that opportunity,” senior at UC Berkeley Alejandra Leynez said. You might even contract your bestie as a guest speaker in your presentation to your parents on why you should study abroad.
6. Know the benefits
Once you have done your research and have presented it to your parents, they will see how much work you have put into this and maybe (hopefully) they will let you go. Start your presentation with the benefits. Benefits include (but are not limited to): “complete cultural immersion, exciting new scenery, [hopefully meeting] incredibly nice and wonderful people and improving language skills,” Musick said.
7. Know the drawbacks
Your parents already have these drawbacks on their minds. Let them know you’ve carefully considered these downsides too, and have solutions ready. Cons include: “harder to schedule academic year, cost, never really know what you’re getting into until you’re there,” Musick said. Not being fluent in the language can be difficult. If you can hardly navigate your campus, following directions in a new country and language might have you walking in circles. Be prepared to address these obvious concerns when talking to your parents about going abroad.
“It was easy to want to do everything while abroad, but there is not enough time or money sometimes,” Leynez said. Unfortunately, money will always be a concern but hopefully it won’t take too much away from your trip. You can find heap housing, food and souvenirs with some work. Bring something back for your parents as a thank-you gift.
8. Make sure you have all the essentials
If you show your parents that you have thought of every possible item you might need to bring with you on this trip, they will trust you a bit more because of your preparation. You are more than the typical tourist, so be sure to pack notebooks, pencils, pens, guide books, dictionaries and cameras. Have someone to contact if something goes wrong too. Let your fam and friends know that you are having a great time while also learning some great new things, but keep that number handy in case you mess up.
9. Empty their nest
Get out of your parents hair for a while. You can’t live at home forever, and your time abroad means no weekends home to bombard the laundry room and raid the fridge. Parents might perk up at this perk. “I thought it would be a good opportunity to travel and live in a new place,” said USCB senior Michelle Wagner. Take the opportunity now while you are young and free (sort of).
10. Remind them of all those times they made you try new things
Mom and dad made you try broccoli, Little League and multiplication tables when you didn’t want to. Now, you want to jump into the unknown all on your own. How can they deny trying new things now?When you finally take the leap or step off the plane and find yourself in a new environment, your whole world changes. “Getting to live and learn about a whole new city, the customs, the food, and all the fun traditions of a new culture is a huge benefit. Mostly, you are not just learning from a textbook, you are going out to the city and surrounding areas to actually partake of the experiences such as joining festivals and eating new foods. Studying abroad is just so much learning outside of the traditional classroom,” Leynez said.