Sometimes the idea of studying abroad could be more nerve racking to the parents than the student. Here’s a guide so parents feel comfortable as their student travels abroad.
Talk to your child
Don’t be so fast to give them a straight forward “NO”. Listen to what they have to say, what advantages and risks the program offer. See both sides of the story. See how it will be an investment in their future and understand that it is a once in a lifetime experience that will teach your child how to be mature, independent, and become a more globalized citizen.
Understand its advantages
- The lessons they learn will help them both professionally and personally. They will gain a global perspective on the world that nothing but an international experience can fulfill them with. No books, teacher in a classroom, or even internship can fulfill them with the knowledge of studying abroad and immersing themselves in an diverse cultural setting.
- In a highly competitive job market, it is a very essential life and job skill to have an open global mindset. Job recruiters will look and prospective employees overseas and the competition is only increasing. If your child takes advantage of studying abroad, they will know and understand their international competition and know how to react and stand out in a sea full of prospective employees.
- International and global outlook-- One of the best ways to learn is through travel. With the challenge of your child being put into a completely different cultural setting, they are forced to use their instinct of adaptability to conform to situations out of their comfort zone. Through their exploration of foreign places, practices, and cuisine, they are able to learn the diversity and uniqueness in various cultures.
- Through the comparison and contrasting with foreign cultures outside of the U.S. they will learn skills that will help them understand themselves. They will know what they do and do not like creating a sense of maturity, problem solving, independence, and a life skill of knowing what they want for themselves. In their transition to adulthood, study abroad helps students “find themselves” and create a connection to humanity and the world around them.
- It will help them develop social skills and lifelong friendships with all types of people. Whether it’s building relationships with a professional of an international corporation, a local, or another foreign traveler, every person they meet will teach them a lesson. It challenges your child to go out of their element and meet people from all over the world. These essential lifelong friendships will enhance their global network. Most of the people they are surrounded by in school are mostly college kids with not much diversity to offer. Opening up relationships with studying abroad will be essential in building their global network.
Help them in preparing
- Although there may be a fear of separation and having your child be across the globe, guide them and do your part as a parent to prepare them for this big move.
- Do your research. Search on the host country and become familiar with local practices and customs and see what is going on in terms of safety and current news. Look into embassy and customs and use the U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs as a resource to assist you with health information, safety tips, travel advice, and any warning that travelers need.
- Make sure all their belongings are safe. In the process of preparation and packing, do your part in keeping valuables secure and talk to your child about foreign safety tips. Tell them not to bring a lot of cash when going out, be extra cautious in crowded places, and advise them so that they feel more comfortable and prepared.
- Make sure they receive all proper health vaccinations and insurances set in order to be healthy for the trip. Become knowledgeable in any health risks that may occur and prepare you child to know how to deal with them.
- Create a list of emergency information including passport, prescriptions, bank, etc.
Communication is key
Even though they will be abroad for some time, just know that you can always communicate with them. Sometimes there may be difficulties or restrictions such as wifi issues or time differences may get in the way, but there apps like Facebook, Skype, What’s App, and Viber that are all free to make sure your child is having the time of their life. There are also phone options to keep in touch with them while overseas.
You have raised a wonderful child and instilled in them strong morals and values that they will put into good use when abroad. Letting them go off to college was hard enough, but they’ll be back in no time to prove to you that they are capable of and you'll be surprised you when they show you that they’ll be an even greater person when they come back. Studying abroad brings out maturity and independence in students, so trust that they will be ok. In return, be supportive and let them know that they can trust you to survive this program on their own.
Advice for Parents: Frequently Asked Questions
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