BCA Student Blog

My Daughter’s Study Abroad Experience Transformed Both of Us

study abroadSince middle school my daughter Annika had planned to study abroad in a Spanish-speaking country during her junior year of college. In 5 days she will be returning home from her extraordinary year in Quito, Ecuador where she was a student at USFQ (Universidad San Francisco Quito) through BCA Study Abroad.  I am tremendously excited about her return, yet I realize that I am going to miss her being in Ecuador.  

When Annika embarked on this journey 10 months ago this is what I knew:  

I knew she would have an exciting, life-changing, adventurous experience.  

I knew she would feel lonely at times and experience some difficult hurdles.  

I knew her Spanish language ability would explode and she would become fluent.  

I knew that I was truly excited for her adventures.  

I knew that I would miss her terribly.  

study abroadBut what I did NOT know, was how much her experience abroad would enrich me!  

I didn’t realize how hearing about her experiences through texts, Skype, and photos would unexpectedly transport me to the city, the mountains, and the Amazon.

I didn’t realize how attached I would grow to her host family and relatives, her new friends through BCA, the university, and the faith community with whom she connected.  

I didn’t realize how her insights and contemplation about a new country and culture would impact my insights, interests, and contemplation not only about Ecuador but also the U.S. and beyond.  

I didn’t realize that hearing about her discoveries would provide fodder for reflection on my own learning.  

I didn’t realize that injustices she learned and cared about would become injustices in which I would develop interest and concern.  

study abroadI didn’t realize her connection to Ecuador would also create a meaningful connection for me.

Ten months ago I could not have imagined this thought being a reality for me; I only would have envisioned the sheer excitement about her returning home in just a few days. I am so grateful for both of these feelings…the eagerness and the wistfulness.  

I feel great appreciation for what BCA has contributed to what has become a truly transformative experience for both of us.

– Mona Jean Harley, Annika Harley’s mother – Year 2016-17 BCA Quito student



Mona Jean, it was wonderful reading your daughter’s many reasons for going abroad. It brought back many amazing experiences that my family had when we were BCA hosts in Hokkaido, Japan, back in 1991-92. Later, we went to India as BCA hosts and had an enriching experience there, as well. We loved the students, as they woke up excited every day. They were all engaged students, as well, and learned about the country, as well as the people. Everything was stimulating to them, and they couldn’t get enough of it.
In short, BCA is an experience of a lifetime! We can’t say enough about it!

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The views and opinions expressed in these blog entries are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect the views of BCA Study Abroad, the organization's staff, and/or other contributors to this website.