Doing Some Serious Dormage

BC

A beautiful campus scene, as photographed by my daughter.

After delays due to travel and technology, this month’s post is a very exciting one for me. When I started this blog a few years ago, my daughter was a senior in high school.  As I tried to wrap my head around watching her leave to live on another continent, I used some of my friends, who had already survived the experience, as inspiration. One friend from my time in Holland had a son and daughter who had both journeyed back to the U.S. from Asia prior to my daughter’s leaving. I watched her facebook pages with delight and took notice. I saw pictures of her on the opposite coast campuses of both son and daughter, and I realized she was doing something very right.  It struck me just how incredibly important it can be to make the effort to visit our far-away college-aged kids on campus. And so this became a goal.

So for the last two years, I have been the person who stays behind while my husband and youngest daughter head back to Europe for high school obligations, to get my oldest daughter settled.  And it has been a great experience, in which we’ve worked hard at creating some of the “regular” college prep experiences.  Last year, for example, we hit up a Bed, Bath and Beyond near her campus to procure homey dorm supplies, even if we did have to snag a taxi to get our goods to the dorm.

But international students are often permitted early campus entry, so I was never there in the thick of things, so to speak.  And although I thoroughly enjoy my catch-up facetime talks where I hear all the latest from my girl, I felt a bit disconnected and as if something was missing.  Add to that a new client of my husband’s that put him in my daughter’s new city and in touch a couple times this year, and a sister spring break excursion planned for my youngest, and I felt I was missing out on something that was too important to overlook. In the midst of a full client load and lots of activities, my previous goal resurfaced in my memory, and I realized I simply needed to make the time.

Enter the international long weekend get-away.  I finished my busy Friday schedule, jumped on an incredibly early flight on Saturday, and reached my destination by 1:30 p.m. local time. That gave me plenty of time to hit her roommate’s final improv performance of the year, spend some QT with the young man in her life, treat both of them and another dear friend to a Sushi smorgasboard, brunch and browse at a quirky favorite locale, stroll a chic shopping area (and, of course, treat my co-ed to some clothes) and hang out telling stories of years gone by in her home sweet home, the dorm.

Was the trip tiring? Yep.  Did I drag a bit with my afternoon clients after touching back down on a post-whirlwind trip on Tuesday?  MmmHmm. Was it worth it?  ABSOLUTELY!

It was so great to watch my daughter interacting with all of the new important people in her life in a setting that she has made her own. It’s a fulfilling feeling to come to the realization that your now adult child has taken control of her new life, new campus, new city, and made the most of it. To see that, and share her world, even if briefly, was absolutely worth every penny and foggy,dazed, follow-up day.

To add to the college visit contingency, her younger sister followed me about a week later to spend the majority of her spring break chilling on campus.  She came back totally psyched from the experience, having been able to put faces, voices and mannerisms, and now her own stories, with names she’s heard so much about, getting to participate in an improv group practice, taking public transit to explore another college that has her interest, and basically, just handling international travel, and all that entails, on her own.  What a great introduction and preparation to college life for her. Living on campus for a while gave her new insights into clubs, classes, study time, meals, and yes, parties. She came back to Vienna loaded with luggage, memories and a maturity that comes from being a solo world traveler.

Global families can certainly get close. Isolation, lack of extended family, language and cultural challenges, all can result in families spending a lot of time together and really learning to enjoy, entertain, and cherish each other.  When distance becomes part of their reality, it can definitely be helpful, to all parties involved, to make that extra effort to connect.  I would highly recommend expending the small amount of time and effort it takes, to let your long distance loved one know, that in the great big world they are all too well aware of, their part of the world matters to you.

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