Let them know earlyI’m going to assume you fall into one of two categories: you’ve wanted to go abroad forever, and you’re finally taking the plunge; or you got the opportunity to go and thought ‘well, why not?!’. Honestly, I was in the first category – when I was looking at universities, I spent most of my time running around going ‘I CAN STUDY ABROAD IF I GO HERE! I COULD LIVE ABROAD!’, so I think it’s safe to assume that my parents knew that I was going to go abroad at some point.
When I found out through my course that I could study in Spain, I told my parents straight away (I think it was a rushed ‘MUM! THERE’S A MEETING ABOUT STUDYING ABROAD AND I’M GOING TO GO TO IT!’) and, in hindsight, I don’t think I asked if I could go, I just kind of told them? Potentially not the greatest example of convincing your parents you’re going away for a year, but even so…
Point out the positivesBy spending a year abroad with Erasmus, you don’t have to pay tuition fees. Reassuring your parents that, when you return, you’ll have £3,000 (ish) less debt once you graduate can only be a good thing. There’s also the ‘I can learn a new language’ (I’m going to Spain and don’t speak any Spanish) which opens opportunities for better jobs, in fact, the entire ‘going abroad’ thing opens opportunities for better jobs. You can use this example if you’re struggling:
You: ‘Mum, Dad, I want to spend a year abroad.’
Parents: ‘WHY? DON’T YOU LOVE US?! HOW CAN YOU LEAVE US FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR?!’ (This is maybe taking it too far…)
You: ‘When I leave uni, everyone else will have similar degrees to me, at a similar level, if I put that I spent a year abroad on my CV, I’ll have a better chance of getting the job.’
Parents: ‘Oh! How excellent! Go, run free!’
To sum up this section, say the job opportunities will be better once you graduate. Or that you’ll be much better at cooking once you return (which means you get to sample the local foods – then get your new friends to teach you how to make it). Or that they can visit – everyone loves a holiday.
Get them involvedThere’s nothing worse than a worried parent. Well, I mean there is, but you know the moment when you check your phone and you have 3 missed calls from your parents? The moment when your heart sinks to your stomach and you think ‘Oh God, what have I done? Have I broken something? I haven’t done anything! What’s happened?’ and it turns out they were just ringing to see what you were up to because they hadn’t heard from you in a while? Yes, that. Well imagine if you were going abroad and you left them to their own devices trying to work out Skype.
I’m the only person going to Spain from my university, so you can imagine my parents’ unspoken worry, which is why I’ve enlisted their help in researching the area, etc. I don’t have anywhere to live yet either, and as it’s just me, my dad’s flying out with me to find me a place to live. He’s also been emailing me links and has found some language programmes so I can learn some Spanish before I go out there. I know what you’re thinking ‘You are so uncool Becca, who starts their year abroad with their dad?’, but consider the situation…
I’m going to a country that I’ve never stepped foot in before, without speaking a word of the language, and I’m the sort of person that if something can wrong, it will undoubtedly go wrong. I, however, have the excitement of ‘Oh my gosh, it’s going to be such an adventure, it’s going to be great!’. My parents aren’t going abroad; they’re sending their child to a different country (I’m not going to blindly assume that they’ll miss me, they could be counting down the days for all I know), but it’s best to keep everyone involved, so we all know what’s going on. Especially if something goes wrong, by keeping everyone up to date, there’ll be a way of escape, and you won’t need to waste time explaining what’s happened.
Don’t be an idiotI’m not saying you are (please don’t hate me!) but photocopy your passport, EHIC, and any other documentation you need to take with you, and leave a copy with your parents. They’ll know you won’t get stuck abroad, and you’ll know that your details are in a safe place, and not under your bed/in a bag somewhere/in your car.
Get excited!This might sound stupid, but imagine if your friend was having second thoughts about going abroad – you’d intervene, or convince them to reconsider if it wasn’t the right decision. If you’re not bothered about going abroad, your parents might think you’re not looking forward to it and WORRY EVEN MORE (I know!!!) and we definitely don’t want that.
But really, this is the most exciting thing ever and by keeping on top of all the forms you have to fill in and making sure you’ve got everything you need, it shouldn’t be that hard to get your parents on board.