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Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Michelle knows her family—including her teenage son—will be fine while she's in Ghana. So why is it so hard to leave?

I applied to a program at my school called GEO adventures. They support students in travelling abroad for internships and cultural experiences. Since I am a Culture and Heritage student, I thought this would be a wonderful opportunity, although leaving my family for two months is a really big deal.

I have had mixed feelings for months. I am so excited to go to Ghana for my internship, but equally nervous about leaving Toronto. Going to Africa has not been a big concern or scared me at all—but leaving my 17-year-old son and two dogs for two months is truly the scariest thing I have ever done—and I am an adventurous person!

I have made lists and contact lists for emergencies and supplied my mother, my brother, my father and my son’s stepfather with a binder of information that answers any questions they may have while I am away. I have my Dad staying at my house in Toronto watching my dogs, Jak and Elvis, and my 17-year-old son is staying with his stepfather.

Although my family has been very supportive and has been reassuring me everyday they can handle it, it is still scary for me. I do believe they can handle things or else I would not go. But I am still in knots over leaving—I have the song by The Who in my head:  “Should I stay or should I go?”

My school arranged for all students going abroad to meet with a counsellor prior to departure. This was very helpful and I would advise others to seek counsel should you feel overwhelmed too. I was given the advice to talk over any concerns with family and friends well before departure. Don’t wait until the last minute as the week before one leaves they can not have handled serious discussions. Getting ready for a trip like this is overwhelming and there are always last-minute details to sort through so being prepared in advance is the best advice I was given.

I also advise you to make lists – not just packing lists but also lists of all concerns and add a column with solutions. This can really help keep you on track.

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Published in Work Abroad Blogs
Michelle Stais

Michelle Stais is a mature student who went back to school for a second career—her previous career was in fashion, where she worked for fashion magazines and owned a boutique in Toronto on Queen St. After deciding she wanted to do something more meaningful, she closed her store in 2010 and returned to school. A student of Centennial College's Cultural and Tourism Management program, Michelle is currently interning in Ghana.

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