Planning for Your Child to Study Abroad

Posted on
Study abroad opportunities are both exciting and terrifying for parents and their children. I love knowing that my child is asleep under my roof, eating my food and getting an education in the United States. However, study abroad trips can be life-changing experiences for the entire family. It can be especially overwhelming if this is your child's first trip, so take note of some pieces of information that are very important. Most importantly, be sure your child is prepared well in advance for their trip!

Study AbroadConsider whether or not your child is prepared to fly. If not, I suggest you take him or her to the closest large airport by your home and take some time discussing how to read the flight boards, locate your airline, etc. Little efforts like this will help to ease your child's fears about a large and busy airport. Openly talk with your child about his concerns such as missing a flight. Help walk him through what he would need to do to get another flight. This is also a great time to discuss customs and what to expect when he arrives in a foreign airport.

A study abroad learning experience isn't limited to the child who is traveling. Take this opportunity as a family to learn more about the country or city where your child will be staying. Not only do you and your other children learn something new, but it will also help your traveling student become more familiar with the area. Take time to read books, watch films and practice the language before the scheduled travel.

Your child probably has a good understanding that life in another country could be considerably different than what he is used to in the United States. Address those concerns. Remind and encourage him to stay positive and be confident. The new friends he will make and extraordinary learning experiences will far outweigh the negatives of foreign travel.

Typically, students and their parents are responsible for making all travel arrangements (airline tickets, visas and passports). If your child doesn't own a passport, make sure to order one immediately. These can take up to 6 weeks or sometimes longer to receive. Direct flights are always the best to eliminate the risk of your child not making his connecting flight, but of course that is not always possible. Do plenty of research on international student health insurance and be sure to have your child covered. It's most likely that your family major medical insurance will not cover him outside of the United States.

You don't want to overstep your boundaries as a parent of a teen or college student ready for a study abroad program. You just need to make sure your child is on track with his pre-departure preparations and requirements. Make sure your child is ready months in advance because most preparation cannot be put off until the last minute. Most importantly just be there to encourage your child. He is probably just as nervous as you are.