Talking to my very strict parents about studying abroad wasn’t an easy task. I can recall feeling extremely nervous as I walked up to my parents with the prior understanding that they would likely tell me their usual answer, “No!” Which is why this blog isn’t so much a how to ASK your parents whether you can study abroad. Rather, this blog is how to prep yourself to be best informed and prepared on how to convince your parents that their son / daughter is in good hands and will be making the best decision of their undergrad career.
In my case, I knew my parents wouldn’t financially support something that they saw as ridiculous and as an unnecessary expense. It’s because of this that I did everything in my power to ensure that my parents wouldn’t have to pay anything. I applied to every possible scholarship.
If you’re in the same boat I was in, here’s a quick list of scholarships. I’m sure you savvy people can find many more!
• Gilman Scholarship
• International Education Fee Scholarship
• Fund for Education Abroad
• Program Specific Scholarships
• First Abroad Scholarship
• Texas Exes- Betty George Cotten Memorial Scholarship
There are a TON more you can apply for, but from personal experience, these are the ones I personally applied to, and I know they are quite generous! (To find more funding opportunities, visit the Get Funding page.)
From here, I would recommend doing your research on your location and providing your parents with the safety statistics of the location. Although it is not so great to hear, you are oftentimes safer in another country than what you are in the United States. In my case, Australia, where I studied abroad, has a complete ban on assault rifles which made me statistically way safer leaving the country than staying in Texas! I know that for my parents, finances and where I would be staying mattered. So, I made sure to apply for housing as soon as the application was sent to me from my university. I researched on Google maps where each dorm was and got a good idea of what was around me, like a cool grocery store and other student dorms. Once I narrowed down my housing options based on cost and location, I showed all of this information to my parents who got to see exactly where I would be living and how I would be walking to class from the student dorms. I showed them cool things that there was to do in the city, as well as how it was statistically safer than even Austin!
Being completely honest though, I realize that oftentimes all of these things may still make a parent feel uneasy, since you’ll still be in a whole different country. No matter what you may say, they still won’t want you to go abroad. And to this, I would say that you simply need to secure your finances as best as you can, give your parents as many details about your surroundings as you can, and keep reminding them that you are investing in yourself as a student, individual and future marketable potential employee.
From there, YOU need to ultimately take that leap of faith. It will be scary, BELIEVE ME! But, that’s no reason to not do it. You are surrounded by TONS of financial resources and people who were in the same boat as you are in now. Look for those people and opportunities, and don’t sell yourself short of an opportunity that will open tons of doors for you!
Being completely transparent, I had to no longer ask for permission towards the end and just have everything secured financially and with my applications to simply tell my parents (not ask!) that I was going abroad. I realize that this may sound a bit extreme, but coming from the daughter of Latino parents, this was truly the only way I was able to go abroad. My parents were VERY upset with me but they did forgive me, and I know that they were only upset out of fear that something would happen to me. We still have a great relationship, and I promise that at first it will be scary because you may feel like you are making a mistake or like you are betraying your parents, but you aren’t. You are pushing yourself to amazing limits, and you should be proud of how independent you have to be to do all of this work to support yourself. There is no shame in asking for forgiveness before you ask for permission, if that is what is necessary to go abroad! Best of luck, and come talk to a peer advisor in the International Office should you guys want further help!
This post was contributed by Alondra Ortiz, a Study Abroad Peer Advisor. Alondra studied abroad in Canberra, Australia, at Australian National University.
Don’t get left behind. Read more about the scholarships Alondra applied for>>