The decision to send your child to study in a different country is not an easy one to make. First of all, there’s the cost involved, which can be prohibitively high for many parents. Studying abroad also means being away from a child that’s been living in your home for nearly two decades. The separation anxiety is a little too much for some parents – and even their children – to handle. Another consideration is the quality of education. Not all universities offer the same quality of education even though they might be featured in a Top 10 list somewhere. The reality of studying abroad is often very different from what the brochure says.
Despite these challenges, parents always want the best possible education for their children so they’re prepared to enter life with the skills they need to succeed. That’s why studying abroad is such a popular concept. This article highlights several reasons why studying abroad can often be better than putting your kid in a college close to home or even in the same country.
Studying Abroad Fosters Independence
Going away to college helps a child gain independence quickly. The most important of these is self-reliance, as well as the ability to think for themselves. Living away from home is one of the things that turns a dependant child into an adult capable of navigating a world full of uncertainties.
But, in some cases, the child needs to be mentally prepared to take the leap to study abroad, especially if the parents have brought them up in a closeted manner. If you, as a parent, have been guilty of that, it’s time to make amends.
Before sending them off on their new journey, get them to read up on their university, the country they’re going to, its culture, its people, and so on. The more theoretical exposure they have to a new place, the more comfortable (or less uncomfortable) they’ll be when they finally get there.
If your finances allow, it’s also a good idea to take a holiday to the same destination a few months before they actually move there for the duration of their course. If they can enjoy the familiarity of their parents and siblings in a new environment, it will put them in a better frame of mind to handle it alone when the time comes.
You can also buy them something special that will help them stay connected to you from across the miles. Remember, having a child study abroad is very similar to being in a long-distance relationship, so you might want to brush up on how to deal with such a situation.
You can even consider buying them a meaningful graduation gift to help them transition to their new life.
It Helps Them Appreciate Different Points of View
Studying abroad also gives your child the opportunity to appreciate a new culture, learn a different language, acquire a taste for unfamiliar foods, and so on. Importantly, it allows them to experience a viewpoint that’s often completely different from the one they were brought up with. From my own experience of having studied, lived, and worked in or traveled to more than a dozen countries, I know that every experience was an eye-opener. Those are memories that I’ll never forget as long as I live, and it has shaped the way I see the world. I’m a lot more tolerant of the differences between people now, and I’m sure that studying abroad will have the same effect on your child, in some measure.
As much as there’s racism, misogyny, and bigotry in this world, there’s also acceptance, inclusion, and tolerance. Give your child the opportunity to learn that for themselves, to see it first-hand in a new land. Allow them to see the good and the bad side of humanity, because it will strengthen them and build the resilience that they can rarely acquire at home.
Above all, trust that the values you’ve taught them will be carried like a torch and do you proud. It’s time you let them come into their own.
It Equips Them for International Travel
Even many adults today are completely unaware of what it takes to travel internationally. How to apply for a visa, where to go when you need help in a new country, what are the customs you need to follow and respect, how do you integrate yourself into a new culture, even something as mundane as going through immigration at the airport and knowing the rules you need to abide by – all these doubts can be cleared up when you child travels overseas.
Travel, especially to a different country, is an essential part of growing up. I’ve had the privilege of traveling to several countries starting at the tender age of about 5 or 6 years old. Not everyone is that lucky. Fortunately, you, as a parent, can help your child enjoy that privilege. Everything you work for is ultimately for your children, anyway, so why not give them a head start and let them experience the thrill of international travel?
It Opens Up New Opportunities
Studying abroad also opens up new avenues for your child to start their career. They may choose to continue living in the same country after their studies are done, they may choose to move to yet another country for a different career opportunity, or they might even decide that home is where the heart is.
The ultimate decision is irrelevant. What’s relevant is that studying overseas opens new doors they didn’t even know existed – that, perhaps, even you didn’t know existed. There are some job opportunities in a new country that aren’t available in your own country. That’s a new door to be tried out if it interests your son or daughter. They might end up falling in love with someone of a different nationality, further enriching their life experiences and, most likely, even yours.
The point is, studying abroad offers a sort of doorway to opportunities that they might never come across at home. And that’s worth the effort of sending them abroad.
It Gives Them Rich Experiences
As with opportunities, doing a college degree overseas will give your child new and life-changing experiences. Immersing themselves in a different culture can shift the very paradigms that they were brought up with. And who’s to say that a basic shift in beliefs is not a good thing? The new experiences that they will have at their college abroad will give them the tools to handle other new experiences as they go through life. Too many of us are so stuck in our ways of thinking that we tend to reject anything that’s alien to us. That’s not healthy.
Look at what’s happening in the United States at the moment. Polarization seems to be the name of the game, and it is being perpetrated by none other than the man responsible for not allowing things like that to happen on his watch. America is failing miserably at being what it used to be and is supposed to be good at – inclusion, acceptance, and opportunity for all.
In that context, sending your child to study abroad is probably the best thing you can do for them as a parent. Let them go out and see the world for what it really is: a rich amalgamation of diversity that only works when you can see and appreciate a point of view that’s different from your own.