A Letter to the Parents of Travelers
We realize that we’ve provided a lot of resources, advice, and encouragement for study abroaders, teach abroaders, and all others travelers over the past year and a half but one population has been notably missing until now—the families of those globetrotters who get ‘left behind’ when we’re on our adventures. We’ve touched on the thoughts of our parents a bit before when Claudia and Dani each wrote about talking with their families about moving abroad but today we would like to welcome to the blog Dani’s parents as they tell the story of Dani’s long-term love story with Spain from THEIR perspective. We hope that through sharing their side of the story, other parents (and loved ones) will be able to relate and/or prepare themselves for the roller coaster (but beautiful experience!) that comes along with loving a traveler.
Without further ado we present Dani’s mom...
Dear Parents of Travelers,
Wow, seems like such a long time ago that we were ‘first timers.’ Our daughter Dani decided to study abroad in Alicante, Spain during her second year in college. Although we were very excited for her and the experience, we were also very concerned about her safety and well being. A young girl traveling alone to a foreign country was pretty scary and unimaginable to us. Neither my husband nor I had ever been to Europe so we had no idea what to expect. Needless to say, we were very apprehensive about this whole traveling alone situation as her safety was upmost in our minds.
The day of departure at the airport was very stressful. After long goodbyes, we didn't breathe again until we knew she had landed and was met by the people from her study abroad program. Next, was the worry about the host family and living arrangements. I'm exhausted now just reliving all those hours! Of course it all worked out and in no time, Dani was referring to her host person as ‘Madre.’ “Hey,” I kept thinking, “I'm the mom here, not some random woman in Spain.” But guess what? We were very grateful that this woman opened her home to our daughter and treated her like her own family, it made us feel a lot better about Dani being so far away. Though we always had the normal parent concerns, Dani loved her new place, extended family, and Spain in general. While she was away those five months, we of course sent letters and fun care packages from home. We utilized Skype and WhatsApp which were both great tools to stay connected. As you can tell from Dani's blogs she truly loves Spain and it all started with that study abroad semester in Alicante.
After college graduation, she decided to return to Spain to participate in a teach abroad program, this time in Granada. We had hoped that once was enough so we were a little surprised by this announcement. Though it sounded like a good opportunity, it was hard for us to understand why she had to choose Spain, a place so far away and foreign to us. With paperwork complete and suitcase packed, we sadly headed back to the airport. We were finding it difficult to figure out where she had caught this travel bug, but come to realize later that it wasn't so much travel, but Spain specifically that got a grip on her. Since we had never been abroad, we planned a trip to see her in the spring of 2014, She made all the arrangements and planned us a full itinerary of all the places we would visit while in Granada as well as Italy and Greece. What an amazing experience—so beautiful, with spectacular architecture, unlike anything we see in the U.S. because of the vast history of Europe. We so enjoyed making the trip and it certainly made us feel a lot more comfortable as parents seeing where and how she was living in this foreign place. Once we actually saw Spain, I no longer wondered why she wanted to be there. It is truly beautiful. With all this being said, I have to admit, we were very happy when it was time for her to come home. I sure was missing my kid!
Dani came home for awhile, did a quick teaching stint in Costa Rica and then hit us with the devastating news that she was moving to Spain on a more permanent basis. OUR HEARTS SANK. After much discussion and tears, she was packed up again and off to the airport we went. This time was much harder as we knew she didn't plan on returning to the states for what would probably be a matter of years, not a happy or comforting thought. Sure didn't take her long after arriving in Granada to settle herself into an apartment with two other Spanish girls. She had her online classes to teach and even picked up some private lessons to teach on the side. She met a group of new friends, worked a lot and traveled a bit when she could. I admire her courage, curiosity and sense of adventure. She is making it on her own. She has never asked for any financial support, but we do enjoy sending the care packages from home.
Over the past three years, she has continued to thrive and keeps us content knowing she is happy and doing well. She even met a great guy in Malaga, Spain (though he is originally from the U.K.). They have been together for two years and are building a nice life together. We were fortunate enough to return to Spain for a second visit in September of 2017. Dani and her fiance planned us an amazing three week trip across the country. We saw some of the most breathtaking places we have ever seen—what a truly remarkable place. Though it is a long trip from Chicago, we hope to visit again soon. We will look forward to it, but especially to spending some time with our daughter.
So to all of those prospective travelers, I say: GO FOR IT! The adventure, experience, and awesome sights will be well worth the trip. And parents: if you've never been, go, see the country together with you kids!!! It will help you understand what it is they’re so passionate about and hopefully make the ups and downs a bit easier.
Bye for now,
Dani's parents (SAD BUT PROUD)