Study Abroad – A Parent’s Perspective on travel & letting go
My oldest daughter just landed in Shanghai for her first Study Abroad program.
I am happy she is in China safely. I have been watching the clock and calculating the 12 hours ahead, following happily along with her initial itinerary. I imagine she is full of excitement and exhaustion from the long flight.
I have to admit: Sending her off for her study abroad was somewhat of a relief. The days and weeks of planning amidst all of our other life events made for a wee bit of stress.
Well, maybe MORE than a wee bit of stress…
It was at times fun to plan, pack, and fantasize about the sights and food in China. It was also fertile ground for power struggles, family sit-down chats, and self-check-ins about my OWN energy that was clouding the planning process.
I am feeling all-the-feels, as it is de-rigueur to say. I am happy. I am a wreck. I am filled with excitement, and riddled with anxiety-based-what-if travel scenarios.
This is not the first time that we have been apart for long periods of time. Both of our girls have gone away to camp for several weeks each summer. I loved the time to myself to breathe and rest, as much as I appreciated all the new and fun experiences that they were having.
Right now, summer camp feels like child’s play compared to the preparation and planning for a study abroad in a majorly far away country.
To backtrack for a moment…
Both of my children study Mandarin Chinese. I KNEW that when they picked this course of study (and yes, it was a decision that the girls discussed and debated with us at-length before making their choices), that a study abroad program in China would be in their future. I, myself have studied several Romance languages and I lived in both Mexico and Italy for long periods of time and LOVED it.
Immersion was THE THING that took my language skills from perfunctory classroom recitation to fluency. I was confident that my girls would undertake the same kind of program in their own lives.
The China trip was announced over two years ago, as her teacher and school knew that we needed time to plan, to fundraise (travel ain’t cheap!), and to get everything we needed together. My daughter began a plan to babysit several days a week during the summer, and socked money away week-after-week. She launched her own “Go Fund Me” campaign (with a little parental help) and asked for donations.
She raised the required $4,500 for her trip. We felt so proud of her efforts and the seed that was planted began to grow into full-blown excitement.
For ME, stress began to mount over what felt like a huge burden of “What-Ifs.”
It went a little something like this:
We live rurally. Will my daughter know how to get on and off a city bus? Will she know how to handle her money? Will she look both ways before crossing the street? Does she know how to carry her bag across her shoulder to keep it snug and safe from pickpockets? How will she cope with the huge crowds? Will she need to use her kickboxing skills in real-time? Will she put on enough sunscreen? We she dress modestly? Will she stay hydrated? Does she know how to treat herself if she gets diarrhea/nausea etc? And on, and on, and on….
Any scenario, I have imagined it.
I found myself getting mired in a feeling of inadequacy that I had not better prepared her for EVERY LIFE SCENARIO that could possibly come her way. (Yes, I know how insane this sounds! Hooray for Mom Guilt!) ……Like there was some kind of international boot camp I should have put her through in order to be properly prepared for study abroad and also wilderness and city survival.
I was gently and lovingly reminded by my patient-as-a-saint-husband, that our lives together have been the training she needs. We have travelled A LOT with our children and they have paid attention. We have included them in the preparations. We talk to our kids about safety. We model and LIVE the kinds of relationships we want them to have.
My daughter is smart-as-a-whip, compassionate, and highly organized.
I needed to SEE and ACKNOWLEDGE that about her.
My husband also reminded me that travel IS also the bootcamp. That these experiences are how she will learn to trust herself.
He also reminded me that the gift of OUR TRUST would help set her on that path of self-awareness and connectedness that comes from travel.
Ahhhh………That was it: TRUST.
I found myself reaching out to friends who have studied abroad, and who have experienced similar emotions with their own families.
My friend Marina shared with me: “I always felt that they [my parents] had the trust in my abilities to figure it [Travel Abroad] out, they are very proud and supportive of me and honestly, it made our relationship so strong and special. I absolutely love my parents. Now, as a mom myself I understand how hard it must’ve been for them to let me fly into the unknown and let go of control. It is the ultimate parental sacrifice to let go of your child.”
She articulated about TRUST so well.
My friend Jude stated in regards to her son’s travel abroad: “I love watching it. It is filled with the beauty of being young so far away from what you know, and the joy of being together in the experience of what you don’t. What a time this will be for your baby who has grown like a glorious flower opening to welcome the warmth of the sun.”
I am grateful for have they have shared.
So… have you been through something similar in letting your child study abroad? Did you, yourself travel far from home and feel a range of emotions? I would love hear from you.
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How to share your tourism destination on Social Media.
What is the best way to share your business on social media? I don’t know about you, but when I lay in bed at night, scrolling through my iPad, searching for the next latest-and-greatest place I want to visit, I tend to stop and linger at pretty pictures and videos or real people doing fun and engaging things.
I am not alone in this.
Over 45% of the world’s total population are on social media, spending on average, 2.5 hours per day on social networks and in messaging apps.* (Hootsuite, 2019)
Social media users love travel photos and destinations profiles.
Travelers want what is REAL and RELEVANT. They want to be shown what it would truly be like to travel to a destination, and what to expect along the way. Travelers want to connect with the EMOTION of the experience, long before they step foot in the hotel lobby, or get in their car to the airport.
How can YOU, dear gentle business owner, benefit from this knowledge and cater your social media marketing to potential tourism and hospitality customers?
It’s as simple as 1-2-3 to market your Tourism and Hospitality Business on Social Media.
I promise you, your marketing outreach will be SO much easier if you do a bit of planning ahead. You KNOW that the “spray and pray” method of throwing up a social post here and there does not work. It is ineffective and causes social media burnout. It makes you question, “Why am I doing this at all?”
A little creative brainstorm and a quick run-down list can make all the difference in your staying power on social media.
Jot down the answers to the following questions: (Sample Business Draft for the purpose of demonstration: Fairwinds Coastal Resort in New England)
What do we share for sales and specials for our Tourism and Hospitality Business? Pre-Memorial Day 40% for stays more than 2 nights; 25% off stays in June or July of 7+ continuous days.
What can we post seasonally? Staff profiles; Photos of rooms types; Wedding events; On-site and off-site catering
What special events, including charity events do we do? Our Local Brews & BBQ Weekend; Our Kids Fairy Festival in May; Our Lobster Roll Festival in August
What are some behind-the-scenes parts of our business we can share? Set up for a wedding; Opening of the pool; Videos of the chef prepping in the kitchen.
Then, fill in your month of social media posts ideas:
Week 1: Share photos of the past Local Brews & BBQ Events with a link to ticket sales; Share a series of photos from a couple who were married on the property with a link to the sales team phone number.
Week 2: Share our seasonal sales specials with a direct link to our booking page; share photos to the property to get people exciting about the upcoming season.
Week 3: Share photos and brief bios of the staff. Share photos of the newly refurbished rooms with link to booking page.
Week 4: Post photos of the Fairy Festival with links to the gift shop and our collection of fairy house books; Share photos of our chef making lobster rolls and ask guest to share their photos of when they ate lobster rolls on property.
One of my favorite quotes: “Chance favors the the prepared mind.” The same goes for YOU and your social media planning. The better the outline and plan, the better your chance of reaching your marketing your goals.
Credit -Louis Pasteur
2. SHARE USER GENERATED CONTENT
Guess what? You don’t have to do all the work. That’s right, you heard me!
You can look up what people have posted about their stay, and then SHARE that on your social media. In fact, this is a GREAT way to fill up your social media posts as both a regular part of your weekly plan AND when you are feeling that low-motivating-oh-dear-I-feel-so-uncreative-kinds-mood.
Here’s what you need to know:
YOU MUST get permission. YOU MUST credit the photo and/or source link that you repost. As a business owner, you need to follow the ethical guidelines set forth by all-that-is-respectful in the world.
Share what is referred to as “User Generated Content” in your social media posts. Make sure to give credit and celebrate the fact that your customers are acting as ambassadors. It’s easy and it looks like this:
Sample outreach to client —-
“We loved what you posted on Facebook. We are so happy you enjoyed your stay. We would like to share it with our users and credit you and your account. Would you be comfortable if we shared it on our Facebook page? Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.” And then post away dear friends!
3. Be of SERVICE
Let’s face it: The WHOLE point of social media is to be of service.
Before the sales, before the song-and-dance, we are here to be of SERVICE and to help our clients.
Ask yourself this question: Is what I am posting online helpful? Does it help my clients see the full range of services that we offer? Does it help them make a decision about booking with us?
To put it another way, are you walking into the room and using a bullhorn to brag about your business and then walking away? Or are you purposefully asking questions, introducing yourself, and listening to what is going on? If its the latter of the two, then you are being of service.
Everything you post for your business on social media should be planned and purposeful, providing both future clients and return guests a chance to share and shine.
Have any questions or need further help? Like us on Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to our email list to follow along for the latest updates and classes. Our goal? To help you feel confident, competent, and creative online.