A Condensed/Carthage version of “What Parents Need to Know!” by Janet Hulstrand.
A Little Bit of Help Goes a Long Way
- Perhaps one of the hardest things for parents to do is to step back and, for the most part, let the student take responsibility for the myriad and complex tasks for preparing for the study abroad experience, and to attend to all the necessary details.
- Yet, this is one of the best ways that you can set your child up for a successful study abroad experience.
- It is really important that you let them take responsibility in the planning and follow-through in the preparation stage.
- IMPORTANT: you should be available and ready to lend your child help, support and advice, but it is critical that you let your student take primary responsibility for planning the experience.
How Safe is Study Abroad?
- According to the Interassociational Advisory Committee on Safety and Responsibility in Study Abroad, “most study abroad professionals believe that study in a foreign county is no more dangerous that study in the United States.”
- No study abroad program, no matter how professional, experienced, or responsible, can guarantee the health and safety of participants.
- Make sure to visit www.state.gov for the most up to date information and travel warnings for the intended country of study.
Helping your Child Prepare…
Step 1: Selecting a program: finding the right academic, financial, and personal fit.
Below are the questions that you should be asking through the beginning stages of your search.
- How long is the program? When is it being offered?
- Are there work, internship, or service learning opportunities abroad for the development of my career?
- Are there prerequisites? Do I have to speak the language? If so, what is the proficiency level?
- Who awards the credit and how will it count to my degree?
- How much does it cost?
- Is financial aid available for study abroad?
Are accommodations made for students with special needs?
Step 2: Preparing for Departure: Monitoring your Child’s Progress
- Make sure your child is working with Erik Kulke (firstname.lastname@example.org) to ensure that credits and program selection are sanctioned by the college.
- The student must take a course at Carthage before their study abroad experience (MLA 2200).
Step 3: Paperwork, passports, visas, etc.
Many of the required forms require quite a bit of time to complete (especially with regard to the visa process). Make sure they are among the first things done.
- Health Issues: Again, check www.state.gov to see if there are any specific medications or vaccines your child needs before leaving. Also, ensure that your student has talked with their doctor if they are on a prescription medication, to discuss a plan of action while abroad.
- Travel Arrangements: Make sure your child is aware of bag restrictions by the airlines (number and weight of bags). Most airlines provide this information on their website.
Step 4: Financial Matters
- Contact the program prior to departure to determine whether or not you should have money exchanged before you enter the country (Professor Kulke encourages all students to have the equivalent of at least $100 in local currency prior to flying to their study abroad destination).
- Do research on costs in host country and try to budget the day to day expenses.
Step 5: Helping Your Child Make The Most Of The International Experience
- Support your child through culture shock and/or homesickness
- Wait and see if it improves before making any sudden decisions
- Urge your child to be the one to find the solution and seek assistance if necessary
- Remind your child that they went abroad to experience something different: and that sometimes “different” is uncomfortable
Step 6: Helping your child through the delicate reentry stage
- Urge them to join “Adventurers Anonymous” on campus; “Adventurers” is the study abroad group that provides an outlet for students to discuss their time abroad and handle reverse culture shock together
- Just like when going abroad, the student is likely to experience the same shock when coming back to the U.S.
- To help, simply listen, show genuine interest in their stories. Urge your student to incorporate their experience into their everyday life. There are multiple outlets on campus for your student to share their experience, urge him or her to find them.
- Expect change, and expect the change to be positive
- Expect that your child may take a while to readjust to life at home
- Acknowledge and appreciate the tremendous changes your child may have gone through since they left home