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Study abroad : Career Prospects

Staying abroad after graduation: how to tell your family

Making the personal decision to continue studying or working abroad after graduation can be exciting, but what if your loved ones are unsure? Consider our advice on discussing this potentially sensitive subject.

Young man sits near a wall with a palm tree on it. He looks thoughtfully at an older woman who has her hand placed on top of his.

Your next steps after getting a degree are important, with a whole world opening up in front of you – but what if you want to remain in your country of study? Staying abroad after graduation is an appealing option, offering you the chance to build further on your international experience, but it is understandable if you are unsure of how your loved ones may feel about it. If your friends and family have hopes of you coming home, consider our advice on how to discuss your decision with them.


Be clear about your plans


Anyone who cares about you will only want what is best for you. As such, you may be able to ease any concerns they have by explaining exactly what your intentions are, and how you think they will help you achieve your short- and long-term goals.


Whether you have plans for a postgraduate degree or a graduate career in your country of study, it may help to write down how you believe they will work. Given how big the decision to stay abroad may have been, there is a good chance that you will already have thought deeply about this. Hopefully, that should make it easier to explain it to other people – in fact, considering it from their perspective may help you feel more confident in your reasoning.


Common concerns that family and friends may have include whether you will:


  • Be permitted to stay where you are
  • Find work
  • Be accepted onto postgraduate study
  • Be able to support yourself financially
  • Cope with more time away from them


These are all practical considerations, and ones that you will likely have already thought about carefully. Setting that out clearly to others could be greatly reassuring.


Express how much it means to you


If discussing the practical elements of your decision to stay abroad after graduation fails to convince people, you may want to focus on the more emotional side.


Understandably, there may be a lot of strong feelings involved. You are passionate about moving forward in your new home, while your family and friends eagerly await your return to your old one. It may be difficult to keep everyone happy, but one way or another, there must be a resolution.


To give others a firm grasp of how you feel about staying abroad, let them know more about the friends you’ve made, the places you love to visit and how excited you are for your future there. If they can see how much all of this means to you, they may feel more comfortable about your decision.


Explain the opportunities


Young man in suit smiles broadly as he raise his arms and head up to a cloudy blue sky with tall glass buildings behind him


Once you have discussed your plans and feelings about staying abroad after graduation, you may want to expand on the pragmatic concern of how much opportunity there is in your new home. If you can show that the place you are in now offers you greater prospects than you would have elsewhere, your family and friends may find it easier to accept that it is the place for you.


It is possible that you had similar discussions about wanting to study abroad. Think about how you successfully navigated these. If people understood what a great opportunity that was then, they might be able to do the same now if you can explain why the situation is similar. This could be a particularly good approach if you are going on to postgraduate study.


If it is a particular career path that you have in mind, set this out clearly. Routes into work differ greatly across the world, so you may be able to show your loved ones that returning home would simply not offer the opportunities you want or need. If you can explain the details of your visa application and employment rights in your new country, that may make your case even stronger.


Talk about visiting more


If you were unable to return home often while studying, it would be very understandable if your family and friends were looking forward to seeing you more.


However, staying abroad after graduation doesn't necessarily make this more difficult. In fact, if you are moving into the world of work, having more money and structure in your life can make planning trips back to your loved ones a little bit easier. Letting them know this could make them feel much better.


Admittedly, full-time employment may offer you less time to make trips than you had as a student, but there are benefits to the way in which your leave will now be granted. At this point, you may be able to have time off at any point in the year, and not just when the university timetable allows.


If you are moving on to postgraduate study, there are also advantages compared with your time as an undergraduate. Often, postgraduate courses come with much more time for self-directed study. Although you should make the most of this for its intended purpose, it is also time that you may be able to use to travel home.


Above all, be sensitive


A mother and daughter smile while holding a mug each as they sit on a white sofa in front of white horizontal blinds.


Conversations about staying abroad after graduating may not always be comfortable, and may not always go as you would like. When people feel so strongly about something, it can be very hard to change their mind, and that is something that you may have to accept.


If you can get to a point where everyone involved in the discussion respectfully agrees to disagree, that would not be the worst possible outcome. Of course, you would want things to end more positively, but if you are careful with your words and approach, you can hope to avoid too many hard feelings.


Ultimately, this is your decision. If you have taken the above steps and believe that you have clear, logical and deeply felt reasons for your choice, you should not feel unduly conflicted. It is always possible that your loved ones will get used to things eventually. An open, honest and understanding discussion may not end the way you wish at first, but with time, persistence and sensitivity, you may get there.


Still making plans about what to do after graduating? Studying and working full-time are not your only options. Read our guide to volunteering abroad, and discover the excitement that could await.

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