Studying abroad is a new and exciting experience, but it isn’t without its challenges. Many things can be difficult for a student living in a new country for the first time. This can easily have nothing to do with the education component, but with trouble adapting to a new culture or becoming homesick. If you have a child who will be spending extensive time abroad, here are a few tips to help make things easier for them – and you!
Communicate: Establish a way to communicate with your student while they are overseas. Set up an account with Skype or a similar chat program so that you can video chat with them. This can help alleviate feelings of homesickness in a way that a phone call or an email won’t.
Encourage them to post pictures or talk about their experiences through a blog or social medical so that you and other family members can follow them on their trip. This will help you keep up-to-date with how their travels are going and how they are adapting.
Preparation: Make sure they have all the documentation they need before they leave for the airport. Start their student travel on the right foot with the right boarding pass and legal documentation (like a passport, visa or proof of a return ticket). Give them a copy of their travel insurance plan, contact information for emergencies and any information needed for return flight arrangements.
Packing: Your child will most likely want to pack everything they need while away, so they don’t have to spend more money when abroad. Some items they use on a regular basis may not be available overseas, so being ready and bringing enough to get through the trip can save them a great deal of hassle.
Research the typical climate for the area they are traveling to and pack the right wardrobe. Remember – when it’s summer in the northern hemisphere it’s actually winter in the southern.
Visiting: While it may be exciting to go and visit your child at their host country, bear in mind during your vacation they may have other responsibilities. Exams may be coming or term papers may be due while you are visiting. Don’t expect them to always be free to accompany you around the country or show you around, and don’t be too disappointed if they can’t. Be proud they are using this time to find a sense of responsibility.