Alright, calm down everyone. Everything is going to be fine. I'm taking a break from my weekend guides (Paddy's in Dublin and a weekend in Amsterdam to come, so look out) to help prep you all for something extremely important.
You've been "studying" abroad for like three months now, right? I put studying in quotes because come on, who are you kidding? But, you've had one important weekend or, in some cases, week circled on your calendar for a while now.
And that's not because you circled it yourself, but actually because your mom bought you a calendar, circled the date she's coming to visit you and then packed you said calendar before you left to go abroad.
Anyway, you've had that date circled and now that calendar is who knows where in your room. You've been living it up, not really paying too much attention as the dates roll by. Then, one day, you decide to clean your desk in your room/move some stuff around as you search for enough euro coins to buy yourself a meal. That's when you find that calendar. And, surprise surprise, your parents are coming this weekend.
Now, it's not that you don't love your parents and siblings or that you don't miss them. It's just that for the past three months, your brain has mostly been focused on food, alcohol and not being too hungover to catch your next flight.
But as I said, not to worry because your pal Max is here to set you straight. In honor of my family coming to visit me in Barcelona for my Spring Break (starting this weekend), here's five things you can do to prepare for your parents/family coming to visit you abroad.
1. Clean your damn room/apartment
We all know you've been living in absolute filth, but there's no reason your parents need to know that. And, while you might be able to wiggle your way out of it, the odds that your parents end up having to come to your place at some point during their visit are extremely high.
So, pop on some tunes and get to that large load of laundry that's been piling up and slowly taking over your room one inch at a time. Also, it's time to throw out your alcohol bottle collection. You and your apartment-mates might think it looks cool, but your parents will probably be less impressed. Also, it's really not that cool. Hate to break it to you.
Focus on big areas like cleaning off your desk, making sure the floor is relatively clean and making your bed. It doesn't have to be perfect or spotless, but a little effort goes a long way. After your room is clean, head over to the kitchen where it's finally time to start tackling that stack of dirty dishes. Enlist the help of your apartment-mates for this one because there's no way all those dishes are yours, right? Ok, maybe they are. Moving on.
2. call the shots
Your family is coming to visit you halfway around the world (or all the way you crazy Aussie study abroad kids). They want to see the city as you see it, you have been living there for the past three months, so hopefully you've got a whole list of stuff to show them.
Take them to the touristy stuff, but also show them around your neighborhood and take them to some cool local spots that you like to go to. This will give them a better flavor of your study abroad experience. Trust me, they'll appreciate it.
Don't make your family do all the research, help them out by taking on some of or all of the planning. Remember, they're new in town and you've been around the block a few times. You're the expert and they're going to turn to you for recommendations, so be prepared.
Also, don't freak out about making everything perfect. While it is a vacation for your loved ones, they're still here primarily to see you, don't lose sight of that. They'll be happy pretty much anywhere you take them.
Going along with this...
3. pick the food
This gets its own section because it's (obviously) my personal favorite part. The simple fact is that while you've been dining in style while you've been abroad, the likelihood that you've eaten anywhere really nice or expensive is pretty low. This is your shot to live it up! You're a poor study abroad student and your parents have the moolah.
It's your chance to take them to that nice restaurant you've wanted to go to this whole time. It's also your chance to show them the local cuisine in your host country/city. They want to eat something different. While some of your favorite joints might serve burgers or pizza or other cheap eats, your family doesn't want to eat something they can get anywhere.
Take them somewhere unique where you can enjoy a nice, authentic meal together. Also, don't forget that nice restaurants take reservations, so if there's some place really special you want to take your family, make sure you call or book online in advance.
And while I made a joke earlier about your parents having all the money, I know this isn't the case for everyone. There are still plenty of nice places you can take your family without breaking the bank, you just have to do your research and find somewhere that works with your family's budget.
My advice: In Barcelona, take your parents to Tickets, widely regarded as one of, if not the best tapas restaurant in Barcelona. Unfortunately I don't think I will have the chance to dine here because they are closed for the Easter holiday when my family is here, but that doesn't mean I can't live vicariously through you. Book at least a month in advance for this restaurant on their website.
4. shower them with gifts
You're a sophisticated (haha) world traveler now, so hopefully you've found the opportunity to stop and buy some gifts for your family along the way. Most likely your parents are funding or at least partially funding your adventure abroad, so it's nice to return the favor by showing them you care. Even if you bought that special something with their money. But that's beside the point.
5. enjoy your time with them
Sure, your family can annoy you sometimes, but that's part of the deal. You still love them and they still love you. They made the trip to come see you, and that isn't the case for everyone who studies abroad. So that's pretty special.
They might get on your nerves, but even though we might not always admit it, we still miss them from time to time.
Damn, this post got sentimental as hell.