Happy holidays from USAC! ‘Tis the season for giving, and while now is typically when we’d be offering you advice on what to send your student who is abroad for the holidays or gift giving for your host family, the 2020 holiday season looks a little bit different. Instead, many travelers are at home, eagerly planning their study abroad for 2021. So, here are some care package ideas to send your friends and family whose study abroad plans may have changed this year to keep the inspiration alive.
#1. Items to fuel their wanderlust
Let’s face it, we all have a little bit of wanderlust aching to be satisfied. Give your student something that will help quench their thirst, so to speak, even if only for a little while. Travel books, a subscription to travel magazines, or even travel movies (both documentaries and Eat, Pray, Love are fair game) will inspire them to dive into their own study abroad planning and might even introduce them to a location they hadn’t considered.
#2. Something to continue their education
Many students look forward to study abroad to learn a new language, but that doesn’t have to wait until they arrive in their host country! Give your student the gift of language learning this season — either through language books, an app like Duo Lingo, or even by setting up a virtual language partner — so that they’re already confident with their language skills when they do get to study abroad. If you’re proficient in the language, offer to help them over some virtual tutoring sessions.
#3. Something to connect them with their host culture
If your student has their heart set on a specific location already, great! Fuel that fire with some culturally-relevant gifts. Consider a gift card to their favorite French restaurant, buy them some Spanish dance classes, or bake them a traditional holiday dessert. Introducing them to their future host culture while they’re staying at home will get them excited about study abroad and will likely teach them something they don’t already know.
#4. Something to help them get abroad
We can’t control the world’s events or end COVID-19 ourselves, but there are other ways you can help your student get abroad (safely when the time comes). If you have the means, consider gifting a small donation to their study abroad fund to help with things like passport applications, program fees, travel expenses (you can even donate your frequent flyer air miles!), and more. You can give the gift of time, too! Offer to help your student research program locations, proof read their scholarship essays, or if they are able to head abroad next semester, offer to help them shop for items they’ll need.
#5. Something they can use when they are abroad
It’s no secret that study abroad will be back in full force soon, and our students will be learning all over the world. So, consider gifting something for your student to use once they are able to study abroad. This could be a camera to document their trip, a pair of sensible but stylish walking shoes, a personalized passport cover… the list goes on and on. Think of something special that will get your friend or family member excited to use as soon as they land that can accompany them throughout their entire program.