How to Let a Child Go Abroad for Study: We Dispel Parents’ Fears
It so happens that in the overwhelming majority of cases, graduates make the choice of their future professions together with parents. Such approach, perhaps, is correct. Wise advice of adults based on their life experience never goes amiss. However, unfortunately, it also happens that parents do not allow their children to realize a professional dream. This happens for various reasons. For example, due to the established family traditions (a dynasty of doctors, and not otherwise!) or if parents are convinced that the choice of a son or a daughter will not bring career achievements and high incomes. Sometimes it also happens so that parents, even in spite of obvious advantages of the chosen path, are simply afraid of letting their children float freely to another city, and even more so, abroad.
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Fears of parents are easy to understand. The modern world holds many dangers in itself for a young person who has just set foot on the path of independent life. However, let us not jump to a conclusion, and slice and dice all fears of parents reasonably. Are they so objective?
Common fears of moms and dads regarding their children studying abroad are commented by Ksenia Balashova, a representative of the 2TM Company, who accompanies applicants during their admission to educational institutions in Slovenia, Natalia Doronina, mother of the Maribor University’s student, Polina, as well as students Daria Kisenko and Jaroslav Korchak.
Fear #1: “My child will study in another country, far away from his/her native home!”
Ksenia Balashova: “Slovenia is close enough to us, unlike, for example, Great Britain or Canada. Many parents come to visit their children by car. There are examples of parents who follow their children, leave for Slovenia and open a business there.“
It should be mentioned that a direct flight from Moscow to Ljubljana lasts 3 hours and has an affordable price. By the way, it is only twice as long as a flight from Moscow to St. Petersburg.
Fear #2: “It’s dangerous abroad. My child will feel unprotected.”
According to the Global Peace Index, Slovenia is recognized as one of the most peaceful and secure countries. It ranks 7th in this list. Besides, according to the Institute of Economics and Peace, Slovenia ranks 7th out of 163 positions in the ranking of the most secure countries. In 2018, Slovenia has improved this indicator by three positions as compared to 2017. In addition, Slovenia took the 4th place out of 152 countries in the world ranking on the observance of women’s rights published by the American edition of Forbes. The ranking is based on the global safety index calculated by the Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace & Security (USA) and the Peace Research Institute in Oslo (Norway). Finally, Slovenia is among the leaders of the European child well-being ranking compiled by the Institute of Social Protection in cooperation with UNICEF and the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Policy. In this ranking, Slovenia occupies the 6th place (together with Sweden).
Ksenia Balashova: “Slovenia is one of the safest countries in Europe. You always feel like home here. It is a very cosy and homelike country. There is no feeling that you walk around some unfamiliar places. I have never personally met any unfriendly people here. The Slovenes are very sympathetic and inviting. This is an answer to the question on their attitude to foreigners. You should never be afraid of approaching a stranger here. The majority of people will understand you, even if you address them in a foreign language.“
Fear #3: “It will be difficult for my child to stay in a foreign language environment without his/her usual friends.”
Yaroslav Korchak: “Slovenian language was easy to learn. It is very similar to Russian. I studied it for a month, and I learned the technical language when practicing. Now I can already use Slovenian as a native language. I even think in Slovenian. When I communicate with my parents, I switch to Russian. As for communication with fellow students, they accepted me as their sibling. This was even a bit strange for me. The same relates to the studies. I myself am from Kharkov, Ukraine. In my native country, truth be told, when you make a presentation or have a public speech, someone in the audience may laugh at you or do not listen to you at all. In Slovenia, when you take the floor during classes, your fellow students will applaud and listen to you very attentively. The first time I was amazed. It is very pleasant to experience such attitude.“
Fear #4. “In a foreign country, my child will be alone and have no one to address to in case of necessity.”
Ksenia Balashova: “Our students apply to the 2TM office quite often regarding different issues. We always provide assistance and we will never leave our students in the lurch. We usually support informal relations. For example, some students come to the Slovenian office just to talk. Many people contact us in social networks, share their impressions, and talk about themselves. We treat each student as “our” student. We are always interested in how they live, how they learn. As for parents, they can always ask us questions about their children. A similar situation is in the student environment as well. There is strong mutual assistance. Our students told us that they could always turn to teachers and fellow students, if necessary, and will always be helped and supported.“
Fear #5: “My child is still too inexperienced in what concerns budget. What if my child lives in misery without parental support?”
Daria Kisenko: “I do not spend a lot of money for living here. I am not a lavish spender, and the prices here are quite affordable. I have subscribed to alerts about discounts from large retail chains. This helps to save money significantly. A big advantage of a single Eurozone is that you can easily order goods from other countries, in which they are cheaper. The biggest part of my budget goes for food products and rental of housing. However, these costs are comparable to those I had at home, so I am not shocked too much. Since the quality of products here is significantly higher, the profit becomes even more considerable. I buy a student’s travel card every month. This is a very essential benefit for students. Besides, I use bons (student subsidies for food) constantly. It really helps a lot to cut down monthly spending. I often go to Restavracija 123 located opposite the house. There is a wonderful snack bar here. I have been dining only there for almost a year now. By the way, every fifth dinner I receive free of charge.“
Fear #6: “Without my parental supervision, my child can eat unhealthy food and get bad habits.”
Daria Kisenko: “Slovenia has a huge variety of delicious fruit and vegetables, dairy products, vegetable oils (during the first week, my classmates insisted that I tried the Slovenian pumpkin seed oil, because it is considered to be the best in the world). I really like how the Slovenians use seasonal products: asparagus, pumpkin, mushrooms. The dishes seem to be simple, but very tasty and nutritious. I like that there are very few pizzerias or fast food in the city. The majority of public eating facilities are taverns or restaurants of local cuisine. In my opinion, this fact characterizes the country in a positive sense, and the Slovenes definitely have much to be proud of.“
Yaroslav Korchak: “We regularly gather with friends to go hiking in the mountains, we go to neighbouring countries, every week we discover new places with beautiful nature. I do sports actively, and it is not difficult to combine sport with study. The healthy lifestyle in Slovenia is fully supported. I will add that sport helps to relax after studying and to be charged by energy for the whole period of studies. No strength or desire are left for bad habits.“
Fear #7: “My child is still so dependent. What about adaptation to a new adult life?”
Yaroslav Korchak: “After my move to Slovenia, much has changed in my life. I became more confident in myself. Now, I have a desire to conquer new heights. This concerns any aspect of life I am dealing with. I began to lead a more active lifestyle. I talk a lot with interesting people, especially with those who have created their own business. I learn new information, remember it and gain experience. I have learned how to be self-organized, began to value time and plan my activities in advance.“
Fear #8: “I’m used to the fact that my child is always with me. How can I let him/her go away?”
Natalia Doronina: “Before my daughter went to Slovenia, we had been living together. We have no relatives. However, it seems to me that in certain periods of life, you need to listen to what your child wants, and not to focus on your own interests. After all, this is not my daughter’s whim, but a serious adult decision. Yes, I miss her. But Polina’s interests in obtaining a quality higher education, her future are in priority for me.“
Summarizing all of the above, we want to emphasize that this article does not aim to put rose-tinted glasses on parents. Yes, the modern world is objectively unsafe (as it was in all times, actually). Dangers exist everywhere, but parents cannot and should not isolate children from the outside world in order to protect them. Growing up, each person faces difficulties, commits mistakes, gets bumps and bruises, and derives his or her own useful experience from all these. Once, parents themselves travelled this path, and now they should not prevent their children from passing it as well.
Ksenia Balashova: “All parents worry about their children and are not always morally ready to let their children go abroad without hesitation. However, we have numerous examples of those moms and dads who eventually decided and did it. All their children have successfully entered educational institutions, study, are alive and healthy. The majority of them even work. Their achievements are the best evidence of that there is no need to worry. The successful future of your children is worth it!“