Studying abroad is a beneficial opportunity for your college-aged child. There are many benefits to your student spending a term abroad. Not only can your child immerse themselves in a second language, but they also receive real-world experience about different cultures. In addition, students develop life-long personal and professional relationships. Here are a few questions to help determine if this is a good option for your student.
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How Is the Trip Funded?
Start establishing a budget as soon as your young adult expresses an interest in studying abroad. Tuition may be similar to those fees charged by the domestic college. Many schools and organizations offer scholarships to help cover tuition, fees, and lodging. Focus on incidentals, such as dining out, public transportation, or sightseeing expenses. Establish the system you will use to transfer money to your student’s international account. If your student plans to work overseas, determine how they will send money home to family.
What Medical Care Is Available?
Contact your health insurance provider to ensure that your student will be fully covered in the event of a medical emergency. Their general care provider will also want to update the student’s immunizations and prescription information. Help your young adult understand their physical and mental health conditions. They will advocate for their health care while away, and some young adults may need experience at home.
Will My Child Be Safe?
The safety of your young adult will be of utmost priority. Many colleges work with schools in select countries based on risk assessments performed by the United States Department of State. In addition, consider limiting travel to countries with a fully staffed embassy or consulate. International students can be at a higher risk of theft because of a lack of experience in unfamiliar situations. Consider speaking with your young adult about their plans to remain safe, including traveling in groups.
How Should I Communicate?
While this opportunity encourages your young adult to gain more independence, establish communication guidelines to ease your anxiety. While following your student’s social media profiles will give you status updates, create a telephone schedule. Set aside specific days and times to call your child. Ask them to develop personal safety strategies.
What Are the Program Goals?
Every university hosting a study abroad program should have a defined purpose. Some programs focus on the international study experience. Others offer a language immersion experience. Sit down with your student and review the program objectives and your student’s goals. After some research into the program, your young adult may decide an international vacation is more appropriate than studying abroad.
Who Else Has Done This?
Find discussion boards or social media groups for parents of students studying abroad. This resource can help ease your concerns as your student transitions to the new culture and back to their home country. These support groups will help validate your feelings as your student tries these new adventures.
With planning and strategy, you can trust sending your child to study abroad for at least a term. The benefits of the experience will be with them for the rest of their lives.