Hailey’s Guide to Seeing Your Parents Again (Or Friends and Other Family)

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Hailey Neumann
May 16, 2024

After studying abroad for any amount of time, I think every student will say that they feel like they’ve come back somewhat different. And with personal change comes changes to the relationships in your life, which can be scary knowing that you’ll have to jump right back in. 


It’s a week after my program ended but I’m currently traveling with half of my family. That means I haven’t really seen my friends back home yet, but it’s definitely going to be an adventure learning how to navigate that situation again. For a little bit of context, I’m only traveling with my mom, stepdad, and half-sister so when we get back to Minnesota I have my dad’s family to go catch up with - which I’m also very excited for!


When my family arrived in Vienna, we met at the Airbnb we had booked and I honestly have no words for how awesome it was to see them again. I was able to show them the city I called home, share my favorite sights and my school (the IES Abroad Vienna Center can’t be beat - it’s a literal palace)! But a few things definitely changed about how we interacted. For the one of the first times in my life, I was given the reins of what to do and where to go on a family vacation. I know that as an adult I can technically do what I want and go where I want, but that’s not really the point of a family vacation for me. And being able to kind of take charge of all our activities and the “to-do” list (while also considering what each of my family members would want to do at the same time) was fun for a change, though I wouldn’t want to do it all the time. 


Another thing that’s really changed how my parents and I interact is actually based on the fact that I can legally consume alcohol here in Europe. Yes, as a college student I had had a drink before, and have also done so with my family, but with my mom and stepdad it’s been very limited. But one thing to understand about living in Europe, is that it’s very normal to have a glass of wine (or if you prefer, a cocktail or beer) with dinner, and I’ve incorporated that into my life. So, now when we have gone out to dinner, I’ve started drinking more with my family. Luckily, we all have the same taste in wine so more often than not we order a bottle to share or ,75L (a typical measurement of the house wine). It’s honestly been something that has brought us closer, which I know sounds weird. But we get to bond over what we like and don’t like and it’s honestly really fun!


Another thing that has definitely changed is that now I am the most experienced traveler. Which means that with things like trains, navigation, occasionally places to eat, and fairly often communication will fall on me. And I don’t mind at all but it’s just an interesting change. When we were in Austria, it was definitely a lot easier - while I don’t speak much German, my classes were enough to get me proficient in ordering things and getting a general understanding of someone when they didn’t speak English. We’re currently in Italy and unfortunately I don’t speak Italian, but my family still relies on me to start conversations or translate things (yes, I have the best app; it’s literally just called Translate from Utilities (though I will note that it does not allow you to differentiate between different regions like Spain Spanish and Mexico Spanish). I’ve also been the main point of navigation, especially when it comes to public transport because I’m much more familiar with how it works when using Maps (I prefer Apple Maps over Google Maps personally). And honestly, this new position where I act like a sort of navigator/guide is a strange switch! It will definitely be interesting to see how that changes as my family continues to travel within the U.S. and abroad. And in a few weeks, I’m leaving for a senior trip on a cruise through Southern Italy and Greece with my Dad, Stepmom, and Dad’s parents so traveling with them will definitely be interesting to observe too!


Overall, my relationships didn’t change in the ways that are really important which I’m very happy about. But looking forward, as everyone in my family gets older, it’s going to be interesting to see how these changes hold up as well as seeing what new changes come about, especially as my siblings also get older and start to travel on their own.

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Hailey Neumann

Hi guys! I'm a Junior at St Thomas(MN) and a dual citizen of the US and Luxembourg! I love to travel and learn the history of the places I go, and if I'm not outside with my dogs, you'll probably find me in a corner with a rom-com book or movie.

2024 Spring
Home University:
University of St. Thomas (MN)
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