Below is a set of well thought-out pointers, which will help you understand some of the ways you can support your son or daughter before, during, and after their study abroad experience.
Prior to Your Son or Daughter’s Departure
- Familiarize yourself with the philosophy of the program on which they are about to embark.
- Talk about their goals and expectations in studying abroad.
- Talk about any fears or apprehensions they may have.
- Ensure them that they have your support.
- While offering limited assistance, encourage them to take responsibility for pre-departure logistics and paperwork.
- Help organize their finances while abroad.
- Make sure that they have adequate health insurance coverage.
- Confirm as soon as possible that their passport is valid and extends at least six months beyond the end of the program.
- Check in periodically with them to confirm that they are gathering the necessary paperwork to secure a visa, if required.
- Investigate the possibility of securing a power of attorney on their behalf so that the processing of documents in their absence will be easy.
When Your Son or Daughter is Abroad
- Encourage independence and self-reliance.
- Do not accompany them to the host country at the start of the program.
- Understand that all students will experience culture shock and that this may have a significant impact on what they are communicating to you about the experience.
- Allow them the time and space to develop a support network abroad rather than relying totally on the one back home.
- Avoid too frequent email or phone communication, which can interfere both with language learning and with integration into the host culture.
- Avoid visiting while the academic program is in session.
When Your Son or Daughter Returns Home
- Recognize that they have had a life-changing experience and that, while you may have remained more or less the same, they are probably not the same person they were before going abroad.
- Let them share the experience with you as much as they want.
- Understand that they may experience re-entry culture shock and that this can be even more intense than the original culture shock on arrival abroad.