Congratulations! Your son or daughter has the opportunity to take part in an experience that will allow them to develop academically, professionally, and personally while learning, having fun, making lifelong friends, and seeing the world. Studying abroad gives students an advantage by building self-reliance, confidence, and the ability to take risks. Studying abroad also prepares students to compete in the increasingly global business world of today. Studying abroad is often the highlight of a college experience and impacts students throughout the rest of their lives.
A student and her mother talk about their experiences with a study abroad program.
Time spent preparing for a study abroad experience is an important part of the process. Throughout the steps of getting ready to go, your son or daughter will gain valuable self-reliance and confidence in themselves as they become familiar with the resources available and get to know more about their host country’s culture and the location they’ll be living in.
Students need to do most of their preparation on their own, and it might be detrimental to a student’s experience if parents who are trying to help end up doing too much. Helping students too much can hinder their independence and learning, which can take away their ability for self-reliance while abroad. It is in the student’s best interest to ask the questions that their parents are hoping to have answered. This is because then the student will know the answers themselves and feel ownership over their experience.
We recommend that you encourage your son or daughter to take care of things on their own, including travel arrangements, housing, and insurance. Students are usually capable of booking airline tickets, researching living costs, checking currency conversions, and taking care of phone calls to doctors and others on their own. You can offer to help, but wait to step in until a student asks for help with specific tasks. It is imperative that the student fills out all the necessary forms themselves because of legal issues and federal student privacy laws.
Staying In Touch
Arrange ways to stay in touch. Look into whether your mobile carrier has any affordable international plans. Internet communication, such as Skype, can be one of the most affordable means of contacting home. Students may want to utilize one form of communication for local calls and another for international communication to keep costs down.
It might be helpful to look at maps of where your son/daughter will be living. Being able to connect him/her with a location will help you be more comfortable with their journey.
Discussing finances with your son or daughter is very important. Together you can talk about how everyday spending will be taken care of as well as what they would use to access emergency funds. Almost all countries around the world have ATMs that accept cards from the US. Having a card for cash withdrawal is important in order to get local currency as many places prefer cash to credit.
Emotional Support and Encouragement
It’s not uncommon for students to be apprehensive about study abroad. These feeling can be compounded if parents and family members are constantly telling the student how much “We’ll miss you!” It’s more helpful to focus on the positive things that your son or daughter will experience, like how many new and exciting things they’ll encounter. This might not be a bad time to take a vacation abroad either!