Abby: Student wants to uphold high standards abroad

Dear Abby
Jeanne Phillips

Dear Abby: I’m a high school student who has the amazing opportunity to travel to Spain for a school year as a foreign exchange student. I know I am very lucky to have this opportunity to travel, but I am scared about the people there.

I am a Mormon, so I will have to uphold my standards alone in a non-Mormon environment. I have never been away from home for this long, and that’s hard enough as it is. I guess I just need some advice on how to be strong when I’m there.

Alone in Spain

Dear Alone: I agree that you are being given an amazing opportunity to grow and learn. If you haven’t spoken about this with your adviser, please do so. I assume you will be living with a host family. When you get there, consider discussing your concerns with the parents. I am sure you will be encouraged to stick to your standards and beliefs, and be respected for doing so if you remember to also respect others who may not think exactly the way you do.

Dear Abby: My niece had a baby a year after graduating from high school and is now raising her daughter as a single mom. After the first year, I told her that if there was anything she needed to let me know, but that I would rather contribute to a college fund for her daughter than send her toys for gift-giving holidays.

My niece was thrilled, so I set up a college savings account for her daughter and contribute to it monthly in lieu of birthday and Christmas gifts for them. However, when those gift-giving occasions come, I worry they may feel slighted when presents arrive from me for others. My niece and I never mentioned it to other family members.

Would it be appropriate for me to send some kind of reminder occasionally, so they know the account is there and growing?

Contributing To Her Future

Dear Contributing: Yes, it’s appropriate. You should also send your niece a summary at the end of each year, so she can see the progress. In addition, you might consider sending the child an inexpensive small gift or card so she’ll have something to open.

Dear Abby: I am a professor at a university on a military base in Germany. Most of my students are soldiers, their families or retirees, so my students range in age from 18 to 60. I do not yet have my Ph.D., only my master’s.

I communicate a lot with my students through email. How should I sign my emails to them? I can’t say Dr. So-and-So. Do I use my full name or Professor So-and-So? While I’m friendly with my students, I still believe in keeping a professional distance, and I want to convey a sense of professionalism.

Professor So-And-So

Dear Professor So-And-So: Sign your communications with your students exactly the way you have signed the one you have written to me.

Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.