Elizabeth Hurd is a student at Saginaw Valley State University and an ISA Featured Blogger. Elizabeth is currently studying abroad with ISA in Galway, Ireland.
When you study abroad, there is a chance that your family will visit you. My family visited a couple of weeks ago, and I was so excited to share my Irish experience with them. While they were here, I learned many things about acting as a host in a country that you’re studying in. So, here are the things that I learned, I hope that they come in handy for you all one day!
1) You are the tour guide: more than likely that your family has never been to your host country before. This means that they will rely on you for almost all their information about your host country and your host city. They will expect you to know where to eat, the sights to see, the bus schedules, etc. My family expected me to know everything about Galway. The first night we were looking for a place to eat, and they kept asking me where the best restaurant in Galway was. I kept answering, “I don’t know! I’m a college student! I don’t eat out every night!” I was getting impatient and we ended up eating at the traditionally Irish McDonald’s on their first night in Ireland. Now, this is not what I wanted to do our first day in Galway, and I realized that there is a simple solution to this…
2) Do Your Research: Find out the best places to eat out, the sights to see in the city, what the bus schedule is. Look up the best places to eat, that are reasonably priced. Look up interesting facts, and interesting things to see around your host city. Since you are the tour guide for your family, be an informed one.
3) Take tours: You don’t always have to be the tour guide. Book tours to different locations for your family. I booked two, through the wonderful Galway Tour Company (if you’re studying in Galway, take their tours. They are absolutely amazing.) My family went to the Cliffs of Moher and Connemara. I had been to both before, but I still enjoyed the tours. The Cliffs of Moher were even better the second time around and Connemara is my absolute favorite place in all of Ireland. Taking tours with your family and showing them parts of the country that you love is definitely worth it.
4) Take your family to see your school: They will want proof you’re actually studying. Showing them your school and pointing out the buildings your classes are in will help validate that.
5) Make sure you have adequate communication: My father rented a SIM card and put it in his regular phone, assured that it would work. It didn’t. Make sure that your phone will work, because it makes finding each other so much easier.
6) Don’t be afraid of a changed dynamic: One great thing from my family’s visit is that I found we fell into our same old habits. Although I’ve been away for almost four months now, I found myself arguing with my brother, rolling my eyes at my mother, and joking with my father. Your family is your family, and you don’t have to worry about fitting back into it.
7) Enjoy your family while they’re with you: After they leave, it will be a while until you see them again. Take the time to enjoy their visit and enjoy being with them!