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5 Surprising Benefits of Studying Abroad (Including Affordability!)

5 Surprising Benefits of Studying Abroad (Including Affordability!)

Most young people dream of seeing the world and experiencing cultures vastly different than their own. While traveling is a great opportunity to do this, it pales in comparison with actually living abroad, which is a tad bit more complicated than organizing a journey as tourist. What most students in the US don’t realize is that studying abroad is a very real and very affordable solution.

Studying abroad, especially when seeking higher education, is a solution with a lot of benefits.

So what are the positive aspects of studying in a foreign country?

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1. You can actually save money by studying abroad

It may seem like sending a son or daughter abroad to get an education is a tremendous strain on the family budget, but when you do some number crunching, things stop looking so grim. First of all, tuition costs in the USA are very high for higher education institutions, especially for those that are considered to be the best. Parents dish out around $60,000 per year to provide their children with a proper degree. After all, statistics show that almost 50% of people in the UK  are struggling with debt. The situation isn’t all that peachy in the US either, being that the average credit card debt is $15,706 and the average student loan debt is $32,953. These, and other financial struggles, are things most households experience first hand. Hence, it’s easy to understand why alternative solutions need to be available.

In Germany and many other European countries, the government covers most of the costs, and their schools provide great programs in English for graduates and undergraduates, including testing. There are 900 programs to pick from just in Germany. This is just the peak of the iceberg, and if you do your research you are going to realize that the cost of studying abroad is actually quite affordable for a lot of American families.

2. You get foreign language exposure

We all learn a second language at school, but due to the lack of a proper language-learning environment most of us end up with only a rudimentary understanding of another language. Only those talented enough, or motivated to do extra work on their own, manage to hold on to a more tangible skill-set. This is why moving to a foreign country and being exposed to a foreign language on a daily basis will give any individual an opportunity to bring their language skills close to native. Learning a new language can seem frightening to a lot of people but if you do your research and prepare for the process it will go quite smoothly.

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People who speak two or more languages are highly valued at most companies, and this kind of skill can provide young students with an edge when scouting for a job.

3. You become independent and self-sufficient

There are few things that can prepare you for living alone and looking after yourself, like actually living alone and looking after yourself. I mean yes, there is a transitional period which can be stressful and annoying, but you’ll get used to it soon enough. Not having anyone else to blame for your dirty room, laundry, smelly sheets or whatever chore you choose to disregard on a regular basis really helps strengthen your character. And you need these things in order to gain the confidence to make important life decisions. In some cases parents may be concerned about their children’s safety while studying abroad but truth be told a lot of European cities that have a “reputation” are actually quite safe, Amsterdam being the prime example.

Being abroad means no friends, no parents, no neighbors and a completely new culture that demands you adapt. It is a big change, and it will move you to the core, but once you manage to surpass these differences you’ll come out a different person, ready for any new challenge thrown your way. Getting organized and focusing on your studies is something you need to get under control as soon as possible, so you can adapt quicker. There are more than a few things that can help you out. Once you get things under control and adapt to the educational system of your school of choice, then you can use your spare time to explore the interesting culture you are exposed to.

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4. You gain connections across the sea

You will develop connections all over the world. Chances are, if there are students from the US attending that school, there are students from other countries as well. It is an invaluable business asset for any professional to have business connections in their own niche, spread out across the globe. It gives these young souls the chance to play off each other’s environments and broaden their understanding of the work they pursue. It can also open up some pretty great business opportunities in the global job market.

5. You discover yourself as well as the world

Immersing yourself in a foreign culture, and spending a couple of years in an environment you are not used to, gives individuals an opportunity to grow. You think about things you never would have thought about before, and you realize how different, yet similar people everywhere are. Once you’ve spent some time abroad, you begin to understand how cultural differences can cause breakdowns in communication between cultures. This can then create an impression of another country being foreign and alien, when, in truth, all that we need to do is devote more time to understanding each other. Becoming a true cosmopolitan (citizen of the world) is rarely something that you can do without getting in touch with a culture that is foreign to you. Experiencing a culture that is new to you comes creates insights and even regular travelers learn something about themselves and the world within limited time frames; imagine what will happen when you decide to take your time.

Choosing to study abroad is a big move, and an ambitious one at that, but it isn’t something that is impossible to achieve. If you are not sure that you can pull it off, do your research before actually giving up on the whole idea. After all, there are thousands of great schools out there, and you might run into something you like and can afford.

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Furthermore, I see no reason why the country a school you like is located in should be a factor. Don’t let your fear and anxiety, or even worse, other people’s doomsayer attitudes impact your decision. This is a step few decide to take, but very few regret it as well- so, that’s something to think about.

Featured photo credit: summer idyll / Charles Clegg via flickr.com

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Aleksandar Ilic

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Published on December 14, 2018

14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All

14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 27% of children under the age of 18 are living with a single parent.[1] That’s over 1/4th of the U.S. population.There is a common misconception that children who grow up in single parent homes are not as successful as children living in two-parent homes.

One crucial detail that was often left out of studies when comparing single and two-parent homes was the stability of the household. There is a correlation between family structure and family stability, but this study shows that children who grow up in stable single-parent homes do as well as those in married households in terms of academic abilities and behavior.

But providing stability is easier said than done. With only one adult to act as a parent, some tasks are inherently more challenging. However, there are a few helpful things you can do to make the parenting journey a little easier for yourself and stay sane while doing it.

1. Don’t Neglect Self-Care

Before anything else can be done, you must be caring for your own needs adequately. Only when you are feeling well-rested and healthy can you be at your best for your children.

Many parents tend to put their kids’ needs first and their owns last, but that will result in a never-ending cycle of exhaustion and feelings of inadequacy. Make time to eat regularly and healthfully, get plenty of rest, and squeeze in exercise whenever you can. Even a short walk around the neighborhood will help your body get much-needed movement and fresh air.

Your children depend on you, and it’s up to you to make sure that you are well-equipped and ready to take on that responsibility.

2. Join Forces with Other Single Parents

At times, it may seem like you’re the only person who knows what it’s like to be a single parent. However, the statistics say that there are many others who know exactly what you’re going through.

Find single parents locally, through your kid’s school, extracurricular activities, or even an app. There are also numerous online communities that can offer support and advice, through Facebook or sites like Single Mom Nation.

Although single moms make up the majority of single parents, there are more than 2.6 million single dads in the U.S. A great way to connect is through Meetup. Other single parents will more than happy to arrange babysitting swaps, playdates, and carpools.

Join forces in order to form mutually beneficial relationships.

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3. Build a Community

In addition to finding support with other single parents, also build a community comprised of families of all different types. Rather than focus solely on the single parent aspect of your identity, look for parents and kids who share other things in common.

Join a playgroup, get plugged in at a church, or get to know the parents of the kids involved in the same extracurricular activities. Having a community of a variety of people and families will bring diversity and excitement into your and your kids’ lives.

4. Accept Help

Don’t try to be a superhero and do it all yourself. There are probably people in your life who care about you and your kids and want to help you. Let them know what types of things would be most appreciated, whether it’s bringing meals once a week, helping with rides to school, or giving you time to yourself.

There is no shame in asking for help and accepting assistance from loved ones. You will not be perceived as weak or incompetent. You are being a good parent by being resourceful and allowing others to give you a much-needed break.

5. Get Creative with Childcare

Raising a child on a single income is a challenge, with the high cost of daycares, nannies, and other conventional childcare services. More affordable options are possible if you go a less traditional route.

If you have space and live in a college town, offer a college student housing in exchange for regular childcare. Or swap kids with other single parents so that your kids have friends to play with while the parents get time to themselves.

When I was younger, my parents had a group of five family friends, and all of the children would rotate to a different house each day of the week, during the summer months. The kids would have a great time playing with each other, and the parents’ job becomes a lot easier. That’s what you would call a win-win situation.

6. Plan Ahead for Emergencies

As a single parent, a backup plan or two is a must in emergency situations. Make a list of people you know you can call in a moment’s notice. There will be times in which you need help, and it’s important to know ahead of time who you can rely on.

Look into whether or not your area offers emergency babysitting services or a drop-in daycare. Knowing who will be able to care for your child in the event of an emergency can relieve one potential source of anxiety in stressful situations.

7. Create a Routine

Routines are crucial for young children because knowing what to expect gives them a semblance of control. This is even more important when in a single parent home.

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If the child travels between homes or has multiple caretakers, life can seem extremely chaotic and unpredictable. Establish a routine and schedule for your child as much as possible. This can include bedtime, before/after school, chores, meal times, and even a weekend routine.

Having a routine does not mean things cannot change. It is merely a default schedule to fall back on when no additional events or activities are going on. When your children know what to expect, they will be less resistant because they know what to expect, and days will run much more smoothly.

8. Be Consistent with Rules and Discipline

If your child has multiple caretakers, such as another parent, grandparent, or babysitter, communicate clearly on how discipline will be handled. Talk to your ex, if you are sharing custody, as well as any other caretakers about the rules and the agreed-upon approach to discipline.

When a child realizes that certain rules can be bent with certain people, he/she will use it to their advantage, causing additional issues with limits, behavior, and discipline down the road.

This article may help you to discipline your child better:

How to Discipline a Child (The Complete Guide for Different Ages)

9. Stay Positive

Everyone has heard the saying, “Mind over matter.” But there really is so much power behind your mentality. It can change your perspective and make a difficult situation so much better.

Your kids will be able to detect even the smallest shift in your attitude. When the responsibilities of motherhood are overwhelming, stay focused on the positive things in your life, such as your friends and family. This will produce a much more stable home environment.

Maintain your sense of humor and don’t be afraid to be silly. Look towards the future and the great things that are still to come for you and your family. Rediscover and redefine your family values.

10. Move Past the Guilt

In a single parent home, it is impossible to act as both parents, regardless of how hard you try. Let go of the things that you cannot do as a single parent, and instead, think of the great things you ARE able to provide for your children.

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Leave behind the notion that life would be easier or better with two parents. This is simply not true. There is a multitude of pros and cons to all family dynamics, and the one you are providing for your kids now is the one that they need.

Don’t get bogged down by guilt or regret. Take control of your life and be the best parent you can by being present and engaged with them on a daily basis.

11. Answer Questions Honestly

Your kids may have questions about why their home situation is different from many of their friends. When asked, don’t sugarcoat the situation or give them an answer that is not accurate.

Depending on their age, take this opportunity to explain the truth of what happened and how the current circumstances came about. Not all families have two parents, whether that is due to divorce, death, or whatever else life brings.

Don’t give more detail than necessary or talk badly about the other parent. But strive to be truthful and honest. Your children will benefit more from your candor than a made-up story.

12. Treat Kids Like Kids

In the absence of a partner, it can be tempting to rely on your children for comfort, companionship, or sympathy. But your kids are not equipped to play this role for you.

There are many details within an adult relationship that children are not able to understand or process, and it will only cause confusion and resentment.

Do not take out your anger on your kids. Separate your emotional needs from your role as a mother. If you find yourself depending on your kids too much, look for adult friends or family members that you can talk to about your issues.

13. Find Role Models

Find positive role models of the opposite sex for your child. It’s crucial that your child does not form negative associations with an entire gender of people.

Find close friends or family members that would be willing to spend one-on-one time with your kids. Encourage them to form meaningful relationships with people that you trust and that they can look up to.

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Role models can make a huge difference in the path that a child decides to take, so be intentional about the ones that you put in your kids’ lives.

14. Be Affectionate and Give Praise

Your children need your affection and praise on a daily basis. Engage with your kids as often as possible by playing with them, going on outings, and encouraging open dialogue.

Affirm them in the things that they are doing well, no matter how small. Praise their efforts, rather than their achievements. This will inspire them to continue to put forth hard work and not give up when success is not achieved.

Rather than spending money on gifts, spend time and effort in making lasting memories.

Final Thoughts

Being a single parent is a challenging responsibility to take on. Without the help of a partner to fall back on, single parents have a lot more to take on.

However, studies show that growing up in a single parent home does not have a negative effect on achievement in school. As long as the family is a stable and safe environment, kids are able to excel and do well in life.

Use these tips in order to be a reliable and capable parent for your kids, while maintaining your own well-being and sanity.

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Featured photo credit: Bruno Nascimento via unsplash.com

Reference

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