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Hi. I'm nineteen years old and originate from NH in the USA. I spent my freshman year in London with NYU and I loved it; it was the first time I felt like I was at home. I applied to universities in the UK because I couldn't bear the idea of being in the USA for university... or maybe even the rest of my life. I've gotten in to Bristol and St. Andrews and now I have to convince my parents to let me go. The trouble is, and I'm sure every one on these forums has experienced this, is that my parents (and the rest of my family/friends) don't understand why I want to leave. My parents think I just want to be able to drink legally (ugh) and others just don't get it - which I understand; most people feel a very deep connection to where they grew up, but I just don't. I know I'll never be able to make people feel the way I do, but does anyone have advice on how to explain to people why I want to leave? Are there ways of explaining things and presenting the UK and myself so that people will at least understand where I'm coming from? I guess most importantly this has to do with my parents letting me go to Uni over there.... and if all else fails, I can just go without their consent and give up going to university - but that's not the course I'd like to travel.

Thanks so much in advance for your words of wisdom.
 

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There's a big difference in the explanations you need to get your parents to support your plans and those you need for friends and others.

With your parents, you want to try and convince them of the advantages of studying abroad. Depends a bit on what you're going to study - how transferable it is (either back to the US or further on to the UK and other countries), what reputation the study of your field has in the UK, etc. You don't want to hit them with how much more "at home" you feel in the UK or anything else that disparages your home.

Have you worked out the finances? Will studying in the UK be more or less expensive than going to college in the US? You might want to show them that their money will go farther and get you a better degree (again, depends on what you plan to study) in the UK.

But beware of the "if all else fails" approach. You're going to have great difficulty getting a visa if you're not a student. The other approach is to stick it out in the US but make sure you're getting a degree that will serve you well in the UK and beyond. Then, once you've got your degree, you might actually have the option to relocate yourself abroad.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Hmm.. I decided to live in Greece (I'm from USA too) when I was a teenager, I guess around 14 or so. My parents never took it seriously and figured it was just a phase. Of course now I'm 30 and married to a Greek and living here permanently but they couldn't have known that at the time. You have to give your parents a break. This makes no sense to them. It is your thing, and they're not going to get it, probably ever. (My mom gets it 100% and is really happy for me, my dad can't even remember the name of the island where we live.) My advice there would be not to expect them to understand and to accept that that's okay.

As for your family/friends, don't push it too hard. Just let them know that you're doing what you need to do for you and if they don't understand, that's okay, and if they do, that's okay too. Don't expect most of them to get it or to stay in touch when you're gone (of course, now with Facebook I suppose it's easier). I stay in touch with 2 high school friends, and in both cases I didn't get back in touch with them until I'd been away at least 5 years. The people you know at that age are all in a state of flux/self-discovery so they will go in and out of your life for years before most of them disappear forever. Some will stay in your life - often the ones you least expect.

Bev gives you really good advice - re: her last paragraph, that's what I did. I did my degree in the US but in a field that was very relevant and allowed me to have legitimate reasons to come here and helped me get visas for years before I got married to a local! Not an issue for you but I also minored in the language and continued that in graduate school - all helpful along the way! I would certainly not give up on going to college just to get to your target country four years earlier. You could be there for 70 years; think long-term and don't skip college. That's just crazy talk!
 

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In my case I told my parents I wanted to leave Belgium when I was only a 6 or 7 years old. The dream became stronger and stronger every year, so while they were scared somewhat and prefered me to wait until my mental health was better, they also knew it was my big dream and that the day would come some day.

I don't think, unless you financially rely on someone to make the relocation, that you owe anyone an explanation. It is your life, and everyone should live life to the fullest, no matter what that includes to him/her. I mean, did they ever justify to you why they wanted to stay close to their native home?

Like you say, most people feel a strong connection to where they grew up, and if that is not the case they often still stick there because of friends and family or simply because of routine. Few take the leap to really go abroad, but once you do it, the odd thing is that the people who first found it odd, suddenly say they admire your guts and feel jealous.

In the end: listen to yourself, it is your life and you only owe an explanation to yourself. If you feel a strong desire to see the world: go! It is very rewarding and will make you an emotionally richer person, you'll experience so many valuable things :) There's a beautiful world out there, so if you have the desire to see it, don't let anyone stop you!
 
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