Greetings everyone! I am Whitney Rigodon (She/Her), a rising senior at Bryn Mawr College. I am excited to participate in the IES Abroad Summer Internship Vienna Program 2023. As I prepare to go abroad, I understand that there may be a lot of anxious feelings, not only for me but also for my loved ones. If you are in a similar situation where you are the first in your family to go abroad, whether for summer or a semester, you may be venturing into unknown territory. This can be a cause for worry for both you and your family. To help ease your concerns, I would like to share some tips that have helped me and my support system feel more confident about my upcoming journey.
- Keep Them In The Loop: You probably have been processing a whole bunch of information which alone is overwhelming: Being on top of your flight departure date, lodging, orientation events, classes, staff who works at your given IES Abroad site, or internship sometimes you can forget to pass on the information to your support units to ensure that all aspects of your travel have been prepared. Try to update them as little or as much as you want but allowing them to know the basics can help deal with some anxious feelings they might have!
- Print Outs, More Print Outs, OH MY!: Before you fly, you have most likely accumulated many documents. Like international insurance cards, plane tickets, emergency phone numbers while you are there, and more. Print out copies for guardians and yourself; this allows them to know if there is ever a situation, they have all they need to make the call. Also! A photocopy of your passport is an excellent addition if you feel comfortable giving it to them. This is if they need your passport number for any circumstances. Try putting this in a cute folder so they feel prepared and organized, which might help again with anxious feelings.
- Ways of Communication: Going abroad can lead to communication barriers, whether because of your phone plan or time zone. For a phone plan, try using apps like WhatsApp, WeChat, or Videocall (i.e., Zoom or Skype). This ensures if they need to call you, they will be able to! Then for time zone issues, schedule a time before you leave to schedule calls that work for both of you.
- Let Them Be Part of The Process: Sometimes, letting people be part of the shopping or even your packing can let them feel included and have a good conscience knowing that you have the things you need to be prepared!
- Let Them Learn with You: This is a learning experience for you and them, so each time you learn something, whether it be culture shock or new things you learned from class or internship. This welcomes curiosity about other places within the world and allows you the chance to share what you know.
I hope these tips are helpful for you and your loved ones. Taking care of yourself before, during, and after traveling abroad is essential. Don't hesitate to confide in your trusted network about your anxiety. Your feelings are valid, and it's vital to prepare yourself accordingly. Remember, embarking on a new adventure is a beautiful start to a new chapter in your life, and you deserve this opportunity.