Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Encourage Your Children to See The World!

This past weekend my college age son brought a friend home to visit.  I always look forward to seeing any of my children, and meeting their friends.  This young man was no exception.  He was fun and polite and fit right into the goings on in our home.  We were chatting over one of our meals and I asked him if he planned to study abroad while in college.  He gave the standard answer that he didn't want to miss any time on campus and he didn't think he could afford the added cost.  I have heard similar answers before when I ask this question to college kids.

My children have had many opportunities to travel.  Our family moved to London in 2006 for a year and during that time we saved our money by cutting out non essentials like a second car or multiple cell phones in order to afford to travel.  We rented out our house back in the U.S. to give us added income in order to travel.  We planned our family travel with a budget in mind, driving when we could, flying discount airlines when we had to and staying in rental flats that were on average cheaper than any decent hotel stay for a family of six.

Since our living abroad experience, my college age children have opted to study abroad.  One studied for a semester in Venice, and the other a summer in Paris.  My son is now trying to decide how he can fit it into his busy campus schedule.  But he knows that we want him to take advantage of study abroad opportunities while he is on campus.  It is an experience that is too valuable to miss.  Anyone I have ever talked to about studying abroad says that it was the best decision and they will never forget the amazing experiences.

One of our daughter's is currently teaching English Literature and Science in a boarding school in Taiwan.  Although I miss her being so far away, I am so proud of her willingness to seize this opportunity and live her life according to her vision.  I am sure that she has experienced things in Taiwan that she will take with her through out her teaching career.  I am sure that she will be profoundly changed by this experience.  And I am sure that the seed was planted when our family seized the opportunity to move overseas.  We all grew so much that year and were inspired by the beauty and history we were able to absorb.

My mother-in-law recently celebrated a milestone birthday by planning a trip for her and her seven children to return to Ireland (the home of her parents).  This travel experience was a wonderful gift to all of them as they got to spend time together and see the towns where their relatives came from (and visit with others who still live in the area).  I am sure that each of them felt enriched by this experience.

Travel is not cheap.  It is expensive and time consuming to plan.  But anything is possible with planning.  Don't let life pass you by without planning travel with your family.  Start when your children are young.  Share the joy of seeing new places and experiencing new things with them.  And when they grow up and head off to college, encourage them to take advantage of study abroad opportunities.  Don't let them miss out on these wonderfully enriching opportunities.  Colleges and Universities do an amazing job of offering a variety of locations and programs to take advantage of, and usually the cost is not much more that a normal semester on campus.  The other benefit is that your college student will know of other students who are studying abroad during the same semester and your student will be able to plan travel to other destinations and just bunk in with friends.  The ease of this will never happen again in their lives.  So urge them to take advantage of the offerings and broaden their horizons.  They will never regret it!

"Travel is the only thing that you buy that makes you richer!" -Anonymous

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