I am the physical example of most parents’ worst nightmare, losing their kid to Australia. The idea of me, an American who transferred here to finish her degree, show study abroad students that it is a possibility and option. As much as we are adults in university we will always be our parent’s children and they are a huge part of our experience here. My parents have always been very supportive of my time spent here. My whole life they have raised us to be aware of the big wide world through hosting four exchange students and traveling. I love my parents and other parent’s who are supportive of their kids having international experiences and especially to JCU. I thought it would be special to have my parents comment from their end what they value about my time here in Australia, from one parent to another. So without further ado here is a note from my parents John and Catherine Jones!
“ So for the first time in my life my daughter is asking me to share, post, and write a blog about her studying abroad, I remember just a few short years ago I would be shamed to “like”, comment or post something on facebook out of her embarrassment. So time changes everything, that I know for sure. We believe time abroad enhances personal growth and maturity. We hosted four exchange students over the years when our children were younger, and I was always amazed how brave the students were. They would travel to a different country, learn a new language, learn a new culture, and have their parents trust us to help them through a tough process. I always admired our students but never thought about our children studying abroad. I was surprised that our daughter wanted to study abroad. We had assumed she was on a path to have the “typical” college experience after being an involved student and dance team member at a large public high school and a Summer camp counselor in Texas.
Living in Texas, a typical college experience, according to our peer group, is to join Greek life, go to football games, and meet people with similar backgrounds and aspirations. Our daughter did all of that and was happy but still felt unfulfilled . When she asked us if she could study abroad I was overwhelmed. What was the motivation? What about the cost? Was it safe? I was a little scared as I assume most parents would be.
If you go online you can see many studies that show the benefits of students that study abroad. We can tell you from a personal perspective that it is magical what your student will go through. We think the challenge to live through a cultural exchange is so beautiful. Our daughter has matured in so many ways and has had a much richer personal and academic experience by studying abroad. We have witnessed her maturing beyond our expectation as evidenced by her blogs and her international friendships that have enriched our lives and will continue to as our exchange students have enriched our lives over the years. She does not even know yet how many doors will be open to her after her short three years there. Personally we also believe her international experience despite being so far away, has brought her closer to us.
When she came to us with the idea to transfer to an Australian University we were surprised to find out that the cost to send her to James Cook University was actually less expensive than sending her to an out of state school in the United States. As a parent, I would highly encourage you to be open-minded regarding your son or daughter studying abroad. The US dollar is strong in Australia, which helps a lot. However much the cost, you cannot put a price tag on the value of the experience your daughter or son will have through spending time abroad. They learn to appreciate their native culture as well as the one they become a part of, while they learn much more about themselves. The challenges are substantial but the successes are life-changing as they assimilate into what ever culture they choose. Any student is very brave for choosing to throw themselves into an international experience and the best thing we can do for them as their parents is be brave too. We cannot allow them or us to be restricted by self-imposed limitations, which is why we find it important to encourage our kids and others to break those.
We could not be more proud of our daughter transferring to James Cook University after doing an internship abroad in Cairns. While in Australia she has decided she wants to pursue a career in international education, which we believe is a gift that her International experience has brought to her. Our daughter and the international student community loves to help the international students and will welcome your son or daughter to the campus. She will make sure they feel a big Texas welcome. So as a parent, I am so glad she asked me to share how I value her time abroad and share this with you. “
Cat and John Jones.