Studying abroad at college or university can be one of the most fulfilling experiences of a young person’s life. The amount your child sees, experiences, and learns over a semester or a year is truly unbelievable. And when your child returns home, you won’t believe how much they have grown from the experience.
But before your child heads off for their journey across the world, and you are giving them some last words of wisdom and love at the airport, there are a number of things to keep in mind to help ensure that they have a great time studying abroad.
Speak with other students
Talking with students who have already travelled abroad is a great way to learn more and prepare you and your child for the experience. Engaging students (as well as their parents) is the best way to get firsthand knowledge about study abroad programs. It’s especially helpful if you can speak with older students who have studied at the same school or in the same country that your child is planning on going to.
Learn the language
Speaking of, well, speaking: what if your child is planning on studying in a country where they don’t speak the native language? Even if there might be English spoken on campus, their interactions off campus could get lost in translation if they don’t know the language. So, it would be smart to at least learn the basics before your child leaves. There are many ways to learn a new language, from in-person classes to books, online tutorials and apps.
Have your documentation in order
- Make sure your child has all their travel documents up to date. This means making sure their passport hasn’t expired, knowing whether or not the country your child is travelling to requires a visa, and ensuring that their health information is current.
- Prior to leaving, booking a visit with your family doctor for a checkup can be a really smart idea.
- Make sure your child has an emergency contact list in place if something unexpected happens.
It’s also always important to purchase student travel insurance for your child. You’ll want to be on the safe side if they get sick or if a serious medical issue occurs. Student travel insurance can be worth the investment and plans are available specifically for Canadians studying abroad.
Set a budget
It’s true, studying abroad can certainly be expensive, but if you take the time to set a budget with your child, you can help ensure that they don’t break the bank. Make sure your child is an active participant in the budget planning process. This gives them a sense of ownership over the process, and financial literacy is a great life skill. Monitor how much your child is spending during their first couple months abroad to make sure they are sticking to their budget and see if anything needs to be adjusted.
Plan a visit
A year or even a semester away can be a long time apart. There will certainly be days when you both really miss each other. Therefore, planning a vacation to visit your child is something to consider. Setting your vacation towards the middle or later on during your child’s time studying outside of Canada is a better idea because it gives them more time to get settled and comfortable in their new environment. What’s great about reuniting somewhere across the world is that you now have your own tour guide on hand.
Following these simple suggestions will help ensure that your child has an A+ time when they study abroad. Having a plan in place before they go allows your child to focus on their studies and experience a new country, and, of course, it will help you feel more at ease.