What were your main concerns?
That she might be isolated/lonely because she was in a relatively remote area, and her personal safety (especially being blonde in an area where most people are dark haired). But because she had already spent the previous summer in Spain as an au pair, we were less worried than we might have been as we knew she could visit her ‘Spanish family’.
What did you do to try and cope with her year abroad? What advice would you give to parents in a similar situation?
The best way to cope is to have Skype and a webcam! When you can see your daughter/son, as well as talk to them, they seem much nearer and it can also be helpful for them if they are homesick at all! Also make sure you have contact numbers other than just a mobile number e.g. a work number or number of the landlady/housemate etc. It's easy to worry if you can’t get hold of someone and often it’s only a flat battery or an absence of phone credit.
In hindsight, do you think you were right to worry as much as you did?
I don’t think we did worry too much because Ellie had worked/lived in France for six months during her gap year as a chalet girl and then worked as an au pair, and we knew she had been fine then; although she had been living with a family, and was treated like one of their own.
Is there anything you feel you could have done differently?
No, there isn’t anything we would have done differently.
Would you recommend a year abroad for students?
Yes I would definitely recommend a year abroad for students.
How do you think your daughter benefitted from a year abroad?
By having to be independent in her decision making; going outside her comfort zone by going to a country where she would need to use the language she was less confident in; making new friends from another culture; working in a new environment and taking on new tasks (teaching); traveling alone and organizing her own travel arrangements: all of these things have increased her self-confidence/self-assurance and organizational skills.
How do you think you benefited from her year abroad?
It has benefited us by introducing us to an area of the world that we didn’t know, but mostly by being more confident that our daughter has the potential for a successful career and happy life ahead of her!
Would you like Ellie to do it again?
Yes, we’d be happy for her to it again if she wanted to, in fact she's planning on returning to Spain, to work in the summer!