Today is the first day of school for my students and the beginning of a new school year for group leaders means that it’s time to recruit for our tours. When I speak to parents about the tours, I will often use my own children to illustrate the impact of international student travel. The veterans of nine EF tours between them, my daughter and my son went on to study abroad in the United Kingdom during their junior year of college. My son also spent a year in Japan as a JET teacher and he spent six weeks this summer at a language school in Peru. My daughter will be leaving next week to spend a year in Scotland in graduate school. Thanks also to numerous family and personal trips, they have acquired a great deal of travel experience. I give EF lots of credit for instilling in them the confidence they feel whenever and wherever they travel.
My son describes his six EF tours as “practice traveling.” Practice does make perfect. His travel experiences after high school have been successful for the most part. He thinks going on a group tour in high school makes it easier for students to decide to study abroad during college. They might feel comfortable studying in a country they may have visited on a group tour. My son told me, “A lot of my friends who didn’t study abroad regret not doing it.”
I can see a direct link between going on a group tour in high school and studying abroad in college. As a result of my daughter’s three EF tours, she discovered that she loved to travel and to meet new people. She knew by the time she graduated from high school that she wanted to study abroad in college. She also learned “to go with the flow” and to have a good attitude while traveling, especially when you are doing things like riding in a jaunting car in Ireland during a spring snowstorm.
When it comes to evaluating the impact of student travel abroad, I say “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.” I use lots of idioms in my daily speech and writing. Some of my students do not understand these expressions and will often take what I say literally, which makes for many funny moments during class. The use of idioms is one reason why English is a difficult language to learn. One of my favorites is “the proof of the pudding is in the eating,” which means you need to experience something yourself before you know how good it is or something can only be judged when it is tested or by its results. (Incorrect uses of this idiom would be “the proof is in the pudding” or “the proof of the pudding.”)
Well, I certainly know how good an experience student travel abroad is and I think I’m a pretty good judge! I have been traveling with students since 1989 and I witnessed its impact on my students before my own children were old enough to travel with me on the tours. Traveling abroad provides countless educational opportunities.
See the impact of traveling abroad has had on my students, in Part 2 tomorrow.