Sending Alex Abroad: Communicating during the Program

In this series, Aspire by API’s very own Jill Denton writes about preparing for this summer’s Salamanca program from her unique perspective as a mom.

Before the trip, Brett, Alex and I agreed that Alex should contact us weekly (rather than daily).

Nevertheless, I texted Alex the first morning. She was to arrive in Madrid from New York City. It occurred to me that the ability to text her anytime, anywhere (using an international text plan) should be used judiciously and in light of the goals we set before the trip began. She politely responded via text and said they were off to lunch.

High School Study Abroad Summer Programs in Salamanca, Spain

Alex and Meghan are having a blast!

The next day, rather impulsively, I texted again. “Feel free to text photos anytime! Love, Mom.”  No response (which can only mean she is having an incredibly exhilarating and amazing time!). I again reminded myself that discretion in my texting (actually, letting her find the time to contact her parents) would be best.  I said to myself “Remember what this four-week experience abroad is for:

1) separation of Alex from her iPhone, removing some of the frantic compulsiveness of having the device glued to her hand;

2) temporary separation of Alex from us (her parents), allowing her to develop independence; and

3) having Alex think about her experiences, new friendships and fun (versus thinking about her parents).”

So in the vein of “if I write it, I have to be accountable for it,” I solemnly swear:

1) I will wait for Alex to contact us, weekly

2) I will not text daily

3) I will remember this experience is not about what information I can obtain about Alex’s whereabouts or how she is feeling. The experience is all about Alex growing up and being independent and exploring her individuality and her opinions and her choices. Isn’t that the best gift we as parents can give her?

Meanwhile, Alex DID respond to my text!  Rewarding me with a photo of El Prado, a message from Alex: “I’m doing great! Its 3:30 here and we’re about to go to El Prado museum!” She immediately sent another photo of paella and messaged: “I just ate paella!” This exchange took about 15 seconds.

I asked myself, a little sharing once a day via text can’t hurt can it? (At least I am restraining myself to one text exchange a day!)

I am as hopelessly tied to my phone as my daughter and most of the universe.

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Jul 30, 2021 @ 16:16
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