What was once an academic option only the most adventurous students would take, has now become the norm when it comes to college experience. Study abroad is no longer an optional stint, but a staple of every student’s academic adventure. While students come to expect that they’ll spend time abroad, the experience still has a tendency to shake parents emotionally as well as logistically. Not only do you worry about your child’s safety in another country, but you may feel a heightened level of anxiety when it comes to preparing for life off home soil. Here are five important study abroad tips for parents to help ease your heart and mind.
1. Make document copies ahead of time
One of the biggest concerns for parents when their children head overseas is what they can do in the event that their child’s passport or other important document is stolen. The passport is a ticket to the globe and without it, students and parents can find themselves in a complicated, international mess. To avoid stressing about how you can take care of your child’s documents if they’re lost, make sure you have a copy scanned and emailed to yourself ahead of your child’s departure date. Knowing that you can send these copies to a consulate or embassy at any time will help you rest assured that your son or daughter is protected, even if their passport is stolen. Additionally, be sure to take extra precautions to protect your child’s identity while they are abroad.
2. Research and relax
Study abroad is a chance for your child to explore the world, but it’s just as important that you have a clear idea of where your son or daughter will be travelling for peace of mind. Take the time you need to research the country, customs, laws, and tourist attractions ahead of time. Not only will this open up an exciting conversation with your child, but it will help you feel comfortable with the study abroad destination before your child’s feet ever cross a boarder.
3. Discuss finances now
Living and studying in another country doesn’t come without a significant price tag. In order to avoid the stress of running out of funds abroad, or overspending on a budget, take time to discuss international finances and expectations with your child before they leave. It’s important that both you and your child clearly understand how much can be spent, and how you would prefer them to go about spending and earning money abroad. Having a plan in the event that a credit card is lost or stolen is also imperative. Make sure you and your child know what to do in the event of an emergency and always have a backup financial account that can be accessed when all else fails.
4. Establish a communication routine
When a child leaves for an extended period of time, the fact that a parent misses him or her is inevitable. As a way to ease homesickness or anxiety for both parents and student, make sure you establish a communication routine ahead of time. Decide when and how you are going to communicate, and then stick to the plan. Keeping in touch regularly will help close the distance between you and your child, and assist in reassuring you that your child is safe and living a wonderful experience.
5. Help pack and prepare
Packing for a trip abroad can be daunting. Unsure of what you’ll need once you’re there; it can seem like an impossible task at first for both parents and child. That being said, it’s important that parents help their children pack for their time in another country. It’s a chance to combine your mental packing efforts, and discuss concerns as to what your child may or may not need to bring along. Similarly, knowing what your child is packing will help ease your worry that they might be ill equipped for the coming adventure.