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Europe According to Emma is a weekly column written by Emma Dell a University of Denver student currently studying abroad in Berlin, Germany. Read other installments here.


With only a month left in my semester abroad (yes, one month. I don’t want to talk about it), thoughts of home and family are slowly starting to creep back into my head like an impending doom disguising its tragedy with the promise of cheap laundry and unlimited Mexican food.

But then I turn my brain on for about five seconds and realize that these thoughts aren’t slowly creeping back, but they’ve actually always been there, because your parents are hands down a couple of the most important people in your life while you’re abroad, even if they are an ocean away.

For instance, without your parents sitting back State-side and looking out for you, you will never – and I mean never – have enough money. No matter how much you work and save up before you leave, it will inevitably all trickle through your fingers way faster than you could ever imagine, because studying abroad apparently has some magical ability to turn all paper currency into water that is impossible to hold onto for any satisfactory length of time.

And if you’re nice enough to have parents that actually give you more money from time to time without you having to call and beg for it, then you better hit the Christmas shopping for them extra hard this year. Your mom mentioned she maybe sort of would like to have a certain item from a certain city you’re planning on visiting? Well add it to your agenda and track that sumbish down, because that woman is a saint.

While some people may only talk to their parents when they are calling and begging for money, there are – as always – varying levels of how much communication people keep up with their parental units, same as there is at school in the States. The difference though is that while abroad, all of the conversations seem to mean so much more.

Maybe it’s the distance or maybe it’s just the fact that you feel like you’re living in a whirlwind during the semester away, but even the dumb little stories that usually might seem like boring tales of daily life are suddenly infinitely more welcome because they feel like home.

Not only will your parents always be happy to share their stories with you (such as my mom texting me every few days to tell me the progress of the new shower they’re having put in – cool Mom, thanks), they will be your sounding board for random tales of your life as well.

Nobody else cares that you just did ten pounds worth of laundry or that the new dish you just made was delicious and only cost you five euros, but your parents would love to hear about it. Your new shampoo smells like pomegranate and you like it better than your stuff back home? Fascinating, tell me more.

And because a lot of things aren’t paralleled between abroad and home, they sometimes take a little bit of improvisation to figure out and your parents are the best people to ask for advice. Trying to piece together a new recipe using the ingredients you can actually find at your store, or debating what could be a good alternative for a product that you always use at home but can’t find in your host country? Shoot your parents a text or Skype or however it is you communicate them, they will always try to help. Even if their suggestions don’t work out because, you know, they’re still in the States and don’t really know what it is you may be talking about, at least they tried. And that’s what counts.

Supposing they can’t help you, it’s still going to be worth the chat, because the greatest thing about talking to your parents while abroad is that getting a text from you while you’re gone is like the equivalent of receiving a handwritten letter. Even if it’s a short, nonsense text (like when I text my dad just to tell him I’m going to a hockey game, or text my mom to say that I’m wearing the cute new dress that I bought) they’re always so happy just to talk to you that it can turn an entire day around.

More than anything, though, your parents are important people in your life while you’re abroad because they’re always there to remind you why you need to come home: there are people there who love you and miss you. No matter how much you love your new country and say you could stay there forever, there’s nothing like family – something they will remind you of every chance they get.

Every. Single. Chance.

feature image via istock