I'll admit to being a pretty serious "helicopter parent," with lots of involvement in my kids' lives on a daily basis. My first motivation in seeking a study-abroad program was sending them somewhere amazing, to do something other than be a tourist AND without me there to make it a vacation. At the same time, I wanted them to be safe, see interesting places, learn about food and language and culture, and be a part of a group of kids from all over the world.
After researching a number of programs, Abbey Road seemed to be the program that met all of these requirements for me. The itinerary seemed to have enough travel to see multiple locations but enough study time in each place for them to remember something. The rest of the decision was just blind faith in the unknown and an overall trust in testimonials on the web site.
The program itself accomplished everything I had hoped for. The boys came home talking about Florence and Paris like our own neighborhood. They add small, yet distinct references about Greek philosophy into their everyday conversations. They recognize exotic locations in movies and remember how they felt standing right there in person. They are more responsible with their belongings, and less critical of foreigners.
My oldest son is now at college, and the experience of keeping track of his own things in Europe was the perfect preparation for living in a dorm. Whenever I ask if he's ok, he replies that he made it through Europe alone, so he'll be fine. His month in Europe gave him the confidence and the skills to live away from home, and that's exactly what I wanted for him.
My younger son is a junior in High School and he gets himself up for early morning jazz band every day. He adds that doing homework in our kitchen is 100 times more comfortable than reading Plato at the Acropolis in 100 degree heat. I couldn't be happier that he understands the difference between the two.
There is nothing in the U.S. that could have given my boys the same type of experience they received from traveling with Abbey Road staff members and teachers. I'm a lucky dad to have Abbey Road contribute to the character development of my kids.