I remember like it were yesterday the envy I felt for a friend in high school: she left for a study vacation, turned into a school year abroad not only in America but in Los Angeles, one of my dream cities back then. At the time, we are talking about the 90’s, having such an experience was definitely out of the ordinary.
Upon her return, she spent months telling stories about her adventures and how that year abroad had profoundly changed her.
I think my travel obsession came from her experience. I tried to convince my parents to send me abroad, not even for one year, but at least for a study holiday in the nearest England, they still refused. From that disappointment to moving to England as an au pair, and later on, traveling all over the world – I definitely had my “revenge” ☺
Why send your child on a study holiday abroad?
Fortunately, today things have changed a lot, there is more freedom, but also more secure opportunities, not only for young children but also for children to be able to have a study experience abroad. Something that, in my opinion, all young people should try at least once in their life.
The journey, in addition to being a highly educational experience from a cultural point of view, inevitably also becomes a means for personal growth. For this reason, getting children and young people used to travel from an early age can prove to be the best school of life ever!
And there is no better way to make him spread his wings than to organize a study holiday in Europe, England or why not, even in the USA!
Does that seem too far away as a parent? A dear cousin of mine thought the same way, then luckily she armed herself with courage and under the insistence of her son, she gave in and now she is not only happy to have let him go, but she speaks with pride of how her son managed to get by on their own very well.
My nephew, a smart and smart boy who is now 18, first started with a summer study vacation in Edinburgh, and then crossed over into Miami in 2019!
As a travel-loving aunt, I couldn’t help but applaud his mother who, despite her worries (my nephew is also diabetic), gave him one of the best experiences of his life, making him a responsible and attentive boy that everyone is proud of.
Many parents have different qualms about it, fears and fears that are more than understandable, yet once the first tooth is “removed”, the road is all downhill.
Are you one of those parents? Here are the reasons why you should change your mind and give your children the best gift ever: A study holiday abroad!
What I’m going to write here is the result not only of common sense but above all of my many years of travel experience around the world.
I did not have the opportunity to experience a study trip abroad when I was a little girl but after 8 uninterrupted years around the world, I know that even a few months away from home can make a lot of difference, especially in formative years.
They will learn to adapt to (almost) everything:
Do you remember that time when you found yourself turning up your nose at the idea of tasting that particular dish typical of the country you were visiting? Or does the idea of sleeping in a hotel of a lower category than 3 stars still frighten you or don’t you get too excited?
Here, your child in the future may not have all these qualms about the “new” and “adaptation”. That’s right, traveling as a child allows you to train future adults who in life will have no problem living a different routine from their own or being afraid of what they don’t know. Indeed, they will find stimulating and fun any reality they will face!
The spirit of adaptation is an essential quality to cultivate from an early age, which will greatly help them as adults not only in everyday life, but above all in the world of work. They will be adults capable of facing any difficulty and, if necessary, will know how to reinvent themselves in times of crisis.
They will have a confrontation with different cultures that will make them grow:
One of the fundamental moments for the growth of a child or a young boy is the confrontation with everything that is different. During a trip you go from the facial features to the lifestyle, to the language, and to the way of communicating at times completely different from one’s own.
Children and young people who come into contact with the world from an early age will become open-minded adults with full acceptance and understanding of what differs from their own reality.
The journey in contact with the different makes young people understand very quickly that the world does not revolve all around them and the culture in which they were born, it will help them understand that they are lucky and privileged.
They will also realize that diversity is a source of enrichment, not of fear, mistrust, or even hatred and bullying. They will become more aware and mature adults, able to relate better to everyone and understand the point of view of others.
They will carry indelible memories inside
How many toys did we receive from our childhood, or how many pairs of shoes do we remember? Probably very few! But try asking about trips and experiences with parents or friends? Those can hardly vanish from our minds. Traveling with children and adolescents, or allowing them to travel independently of our presence, means giving memories that will remain forever in their memory.
A motto that not only applies to young people but that I still have today: Giving experiences, not things, is the best choice, at any age. But as a child, it is even more valuable.
They will understand the value of such experiences, and how much more important they are than material goods. I cannot say that this awareness will come immediately but they will undoubtedly have it as they mature.
They will cope better with their fears (and you with yours as a parent)
Another reason why you should take your child to travel is to overcome your fears. That’s right, although these are more than normal and understandable anxieties and fears, the time has come to set them aside for the greater good.
If the idea of sending your child on a study vacation or having him spend a semester or year abroad makes you panic, facing your qualms will make you a better parent.
Obviously, I can’t tell you the best way to raise your child. What I know instead, as a traveler and as a daughter who was not allowed to have such experiences as a child, that there are very safe ways for children to experience the world.
And that putting aside your fears will not only help you to live better the detachment that sooner or later must exist, but you will be able to do it in a more serene way, knowing that your child has shown that he knows how to get by already as a child.
Not to mention that you will be seen by everyone, children and teenagers, as a modern parent, in step with the times, and your child will always be grateful to you (secretly or not!) By increasing your complicity and strengthening your relationship.
How much I would have liked my parents to have put their fears aside… luckily, years later I still managed to realize my dream but it would have been very different if I had started even as a child.
Study holidays: one of the first travel experiences “alone”
The study holiday is that experience for which your child will never stop thanking you. These are group trips abroad during which children (from the age of 8) stay in a college, study the local language, and participate in various types of activities and excursions.
Of course, these are groups that provide for the permanent presence of an adult companion. This solution can be a great way to start letting your kids go and give them all the travel benefits.
The study holiday experience will prove to be even more formative than traveling with parents because children/teenagers find themselves having to spend 2 weeks (or more) without their parents, in contact only with their peers and with the companion. who is often her own school teacher. I assure you that on his return you will already be faced with a small adult.
School year abroad: A dream that becomes reality!
If the study holiday can be considered the “first step”, the next step, and perhaps even the most beautiful, is to leave your child for a school year abroad. We are talking about the school year but in reality you can decide to spend even a quarter or a semester.
This for parents is perhaps the most complicated step because in most cases it means entrusting their child to another family, which not only speaks a different language but also has a completely different lifestyle.
Yet, this is the experience that all the kids of today and yesterday (we are talking about kids aged 15 to 19) would like to have. Accomplices all movies and TV series they are crazy about, which of them would not want to go to the classic American prom or have a locker at school of their own?
How to safely organize a vacation or a year of study abroad
If the thought of sending your child on a study holiday or abroad for a school year appeals to you, despite normal fears, the advice is to contact a specialized agency.
Here are the steps I suggest you follow, also based on how my cousin organized herself to send her son to America:
1) Select the operator: you can search online, or get some suggestions from someone who has already had this experience, but the important thing is to check the seriousness of the operator. Operators such as MLA, for example, specialize in this type of package and are widely certified.
2) Choose your program: if you want to send your child on a study holiday, check if there is already a group of students leaving among your child’s friends (for example classmates), you can join them directly, otherwise, the operator will join your child to a group departing for the chosen destination. Of course, if your child will spend a quarter / semester / year abroad, the situation is different since he will leave alone.
3) Register: it is usually possible to register online. Coordinate with other parents if necessary, also to get to know them better and contact them if necessary.
4) Share the good news with your child, who may not even believe it! ☺
5) Take a deep breath and wish him a good trip!
6) Try to be calm: with the means of communication available today, staying in touch is really easy. But don’t overdo it, give your child the freedom to have his experiences without having to report everything immediately. Wait for his return, he/she will be looking forward to telling you everything!
To conclude, I will tell you a personal anecdote: no matter how old a child is, many parents in their hearts will always see them as “their little ones to protect”.
Let’s take me for example: At 19 I left “the nest” to study at the University (thousands of km from home), then I moved to England as an au pair for a year when I was 28 and after learning the language and found a good job I have lived in London for 6 years.
Despite all this (and my thirty-five years at the time), when I said I was giving up everything to backpack alone, in their eyes I went back to being a naive child, and I had to promise to call them often wherever I was.
So why not start getting used to seeing your children spread their wings early on for at least a while? It’s good for them and good training for parents too ☺
What do you think about it? Have I convinced you at least a little? I really hope so! If you have doubts, questions, or your experience to tell, write it in the comments!
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