So how did we prepare for her to go to college?
Finding a place that is suitable!..
I guess it is not only about finding the right college. We definitely thought about a suitable place for her to be at at the age of 18. Our daughter was born in the Netherlands and we moved to Indonesia when she was 3,5 years old. But even when she was in Primary we always had the conversation about her going to College in the Netherlands. We thought this would be a suitable place for her because it is a great opportunity to get in touch with her roots again. Also, my family is in the Netherlands so I would have plenty of people there to watch over her and to help her if when needed. Further, the Netherlands is relatively a diverse and safe country and that was very important to us. But most of all I wanted a home away from home for her....
Do your research!
We have started our research on Universities from early on. We did not only look at the Netherlands, we also looked at other countries near Indonesia. Most Universities have a detailed outline of their programs online. Although we always wanted to send her to the Netherlands, it did worry us because her Dutch language skills are not that good. So she started following Dutch language lessons before her departure. Through research, my husband found out that most Universities in the Netherlands have English programs that are catered to Dutch and International students.
We started visiting Universities and other high schools in Singapore when our daughter was still in Secondary. They were surprised that we started looking while she was still young. Believe me, there are so many universities out there and I feel that giving ourselves the time to look around was a good way of leading us to the right University. You do not have to make special trips, but if you are in a country of interest during a holiday or visit, you might want to plan a day to visit schools in that area.
Giving ourselves the time allowed us to get so many questions answered. Believe me, there are so many questions to ask, about the program, tuition fees, housing, ways of living etc. After we found out that there were English programs in the Netherlands, we were drawn to Groningen University. During our summer holiday, we went for a visit. I contacted the Universities before hand so that they could set up a tour and appoint someone to meet with us. I would highly recommend doing that. It is great to have someone taking you for a tour, then just going to the Universities without any appointment. We first thought that the International communications program would be of our daughter’s interest, but it turns out that she wanted to do the arts, culture and media program. We also visited the University of Utrecht and the Radboud University in Nijmegen.
So we had our mind set on 3 universities and went to visit them all and compared them. It was not just my daughter and me who visited the Universities. We went with the whole family because all members of the family are involved in this.
When we compared the Universities, we made two columns of things we found positive and negative. After comparing everything, the choice was a lot easier to make.
How to mentally prepare your child?...
To mentally prepare our daughter (and actually myself as well) I made a diary for her. I started with this diary about 6 months before her departure. I mostly wrote about events and my feelings. I wrote down a long list of some ‘wise words’ from mom, things to do and not to do. I did not only write, I made drawings, used stickers, wrote poems, used pictures and envelopes with nice paper to make it more appealing. It became a scrapbook dairy. One of the things that I made sure of was that I wrote to let her know how proud I am of the woman that she is becoming. I made sure that I wrote how much I believe in her successes and how much I love her.
Two days before her departure, my husband gave me the idea to sleep with my daughter in our room. My initial thought was to give her that book when she was going on the plane, but I decided to give it to her that night she slept in my room. It was the greatest thing that I have done. We went through the book together. We laughed, we cried and talked about the book and her new big adventure and I enjoyed every minute of our conversation. I also gave her a list of questions she had to ask the University and the housing department. I thank my husband and her siblings for giving us this time to be alone.
Preparing myself mentally...
I had to mentally prepare myself as well. Writing the diary for her was very therapeutic. I’ve said everything I wanted her to know. Seeing her laugh, cry and being so appreciative of everything gave me a good feeling. Yet, when that day came of taking her to the airport it hit me hard. My oldest was really going to spread her wings….and deep down I knew that things will never be the same again.
Honestly speaking, if you ask me how to mentally prepare yourself? I must answer that I don’t think you can ever be totally prepared for that feeling. The feeling of having to let her go was hard for me.
I guess everyone handles and reacts differently. I cried constantly the first weeks. My son said; Oh My Gosh..She only moved for college MOM! My husband also said; do not cry, you will make it hard for your daughter! I did not agree, this was my grief and my way of dealing with it and I just had to cry. I guess it is hard to explain why and it might just sound like I have been over reacting. But honestly, I do not have the answer of how you can mentally prepare yourself because I definitely felt like I lost something major in my life.
It will get better, believe me...
She has been away for almost two months now. I guess it does get better emotionally. I am happy that we live in an era where technology is advanced enough for me to be able to see her via video or Whats-app call, and the greatest part is that it doesn’t cost me anything to communicate with her.
Just a shout out to parents: Be prepared to know that you will find that you are the one calling your child all the time. I have noticed that she will not call me as much as I want her too. At times when I miss her, that can be disappointing. But I know she is super super busy. I have seen her schedule and it is full on. During the weekends, she often goes to the family, so I know she is in good hands. One good thing is that I have her Instagram, so I can still follow her story and see what is going on, even though it is not directly send to me and that is ok.
I just got to remind myself that “Geen bericht is Goed bericht” or "No news means Good news".
Walk through memory lane.....
After she left, I went through a box of old pictures. My gosh, the time has passed too fast. So,
I am sure you have heard this many many many times before, but it is very true. Enjoy the moments with your children. They grow up in a blink of an eye. Looking through the pictures brought me back to memory lane and I am so glad that I got to make beautiful memories with her. It also made me realize to focus on her future and keep building on our relationship. I just have to be there when she needs me and I have to keep my distance in order for her to grow.
Most of all, I had to remind myself how blessed we are as a family. How blessed I am to have her as my daughter and that is one fact that will never change, even though she is far away and getting ready for adulthood.
Want to find out more about Selena's College move in day
Watch this video below:
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