HELP: I Want to Study Abroad But My Parent’s Won’t Let Me!

As I’ve mentioned in the past I get a lot of emails from readers. Some are nice, some are mean, lots of them ask for advice that I’m usually not qualified to give.

This week I got an email from an 18-year old female reader with a question about travel during college. I’m hoping to crowdsource some suggestions for her:

Help! I want to study abroad but my parents won’t let me!

Later in college, I want to study abroad (Vienna, Austria, in fact!). However, my parents are completely against the idea, for safety concerns of course. But, also because they believe I won’t be ready – even a year and a half later. They’re afraid I’ll be taken advantage of, and from their vague forewarnings, probably will get caught up with boys and possibly drugs. Other than telling them this is no way near my plans, how can I ease their concerns?

But, I’m sure a major reason behind their worry is that I’ve never been away from them for more than a school day (I live at home). What are some good ideas to “build up” to studying abroad? Any ideas I present to them – weekend volunteer trips or conference visits hosted by my college – they shut down. Even when I travel with them, they don’t let me out of their sight for more than a few minutes, other than the hotel. Any ideas here?

My advice:

The first thing I would say is that technically at 18 you are an adult, and you don’t need your parent’s permission to study abroad or travel. That get’s a little trickier though if they are paying for your education or your room and board.
It’s hard to dispute the benefits of studying abroad. It’s a great way not just to get a taste for travel but to experience independence and learn about the world.
I Want to Study Abroad But My Parents Won't Let Me
Studying in England in 2006
At the same time, it’s probably hard for them to see you growing up and they may not realize that you’re not a child anymore. I would start by talking to your parents at a non-emotionally charged time. Find out what their specific concerns are and ask what you could do to earn their trust. Point out to them that you will soon be an independent adult and that you need to learn self-sufficiency and responsibility now.
If you still aren’t making any headway, it might be time to think about how you can become more independent on your own. And remember that in 4 years you’ll be out of college and then you can really do whatever you want with your life.

 

Help: How did you talk to your parents about studying abroad? What as persuasive to them?

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Help! I Want to Study Abroad But My Parents Won't Let Me

 

Steph

Stephanie Yoder is a girl who can't sit still! She is the co-founder and editor of Why Wait To See the World. Learn more about her here.

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10 thoughts on “HELP: I Want to Study Abroad But My Parent’s Won’t Let Me!”

  1. Yikes. I know this is a travel question, but I feel like it brings up more important, general life issues as well.

    I have no idea where she’s from, so the following advice assumes she’s from the US, Canada, or another country with a similar work culture… if she doesn’t have one already, the first thing your reader needs to do is to get a part-time job. It will help build her resume, show her parents that she is on the brink of adulthood and can handle responsibility, and will allow her to start putting money away, either for travel or for moving out on her own. Unless her parents will be providing her with a job upon graduation, they’re doing her a huge disservice by continuing to shelter her to this extent.

    Secondly, if she hasn’t been away from her parents for more than 24 hours, I’d advise her to start small – starting with day trips and working up to weekend trips away with friends or relatives her parents trust. She can promise to have her phone on her at all times if they are worried – she can check in with them via text and calls. Sending them happy, smiling pics of whatever she’s doing might help them relax a bit as well.

    1. To be able to procure a part time job in order to reap the benefits you have mentioned in your comment would be a dream! But unfortunately for me I live in a country where it isn’t all that common for students to be engaged in any kind of work other than study. However that won’t stop me from trying! I desperately need to communicate to my parents that I can handle matters of my own, on my own!

  2. I second the above comments, and add to that this suggestion: make a professional-looking presentation detailing the pro’s of studying abroad that explains to her parents exactly why she wants to and what she will gain from studying abroad. Use whatever platform she’s comfortable with (Power Point, posters, etc.), but treat it as if it’s a business proposal. I did this with my fairly restrictive parents while I was in high school in order to get permission to go away on a short vacation with some girlfriends and it (surprisingly) worked. They were so impressed with the time and energy I put into the presentation that they realized I wasn’t treating the trip lightly, and that I understood and respected the responsibility I was asking to take on by traveling unaccompanied. A few years later, I had their full blessing to study abroad for an entire semester.

  3. My parents knew from before I went to uni that I would be studying abroad for a year – part and parcel of my degree! As a result of that I ended up moving from the UK to Vienna post degree and I’m studying here now (though maybe don’t mention that). Vienna is an incredibly safe and there are a lot of international students here – as one myself I can say that everyone has been very welcoming.

    I’d personally pick out the courses you would do, do your research, bookmark flat hunting sites (that will probably be th hardest thing for you to do), and show them what you have done and that you know what you will need to do to accomplish this safely 🙂

  4. I was lucky in that my mom, while not only having lived abroad and traveled extensively, is also a director of study abroad at a university in the States. So needless to say she was mighty supportive. But research research research. If you can go to your parents with the proof that you’ve looked deeply into the school you want to study at, the courses you’re going to take, and the country itself, they’ll know you’re serious about it and that you’re responsible enough to go.

  5. My parents are huge worriers. Years after I’ve graduated from college, they still are. But they did let me study abroad in college because they saw how important it was to me and how seriously I took it. I handled all of the paperwork and application process. I think this showed them that I was taking the opportunity seriously and maturely. I even scheduled a roadtrip by myself to Chicago to pick up my visa as a little “test trip”. I think all of these things helped put my parents at ease before I left.
    When I was abroad, I bought a prepaid cell phone that my parents could call and text if they needed to get a hold of me. I also scheduled a weekly Skype date with them on the weekend so they could see how happy I was and learn more about what I was experiencing and learning.
    Don’t give up hope! Studying abroad changed my life and it’ll change yours too!

  6. HELP
    I want to go to study abroad program in florence but my mom is not keen on it and she has decided to come along with me for the whole duration of my program . She won’t leave me alone and i don’t know what to do .. is it a good thing or a bad thing , honestly can’t decide.

  7. JoriThestudyabroadgirl

    I want to study abroad in highschool for senior year but my mom doesn’t trust anybody and thinks im immature, PLEASE HELP D:

  8. ITONG THOMPSON

    I NEED ADVICE ON HOW TO APPROACH MY DAD ON SCHOOLING ABROAD AM. NOT FREE WITH HIM
    PLEASE HELP ITS URGENT

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