I am a Family Member
As your family member prepares to study abroad, we understand that you may have many questions as you assist them with arrangements. An important point to note is that they are also preparing, simply in a different manner. While they have nerves or excitement, you may be feeling the same but as a parent it is entirely different.
Eventually, you will be watching from afar as they embark on their journey. This is often part of the process of your family member becoming independent. More often than not, they will return with a sense of independence they gained from being somewhere culturally different than their home. While safety is often a worry, other thoughts such as paying for study abroad can be an issue. Below we have provided a few tips and links on how to navigate the entire process as a parent or guardian.
Encouraging your family member to be proactive will help ease your mind about the study abroad process. It is important that your child is well prepared before they depart. Doing a bit of research about your family member’s destination is always a good idea. We are always here to help with any questions that may arise. Click here for more information about Learn International Policies and Procedures.
Tips for parents and guardians:
Here are a few tips to consider before sending your loved one abroad:
Positives about your student studying abroad:
- There is so much value in allowing your student to study abroad. International Education is an important component to education in the 21st century.
- Studying abroad allows for new perspective, and a diverse education and these can be seen as very attractive from future employers when a student returns from studying abroad.
- Graduate schools admissions look very highly on students who have studied abroad or have an international work-experience.
- Personal development is often a result of study abroad as it allows students to grow and learn independently. See below for some helpful articles about allowing your loved one to study abroad.
Does your loved one have proper health insurance while abroad? Often the school or study abroad provider will provide information on how to go about getting international health insurance. If your home university does not provide health insurance we use CISI for students, please visit here for more information: Learn International Health and Safety. We require all students to have health insurance.
In case of emergency: Do you have means to get a hold of your loved one? Here are a few options, these are free apps for your smartphone so you can call, text, etc:
- Facebook Messenger-If you have Facebook you can download the Facebook Messenger app on your phone or use it on your web browser when logged into Facebook.
- Whatsapp – An app you can download on smartphones to communicate for free.
- Skype-A service you can download as an app on smartphones and your computer desktop to communicate for free
- Google hangouts-If you have a gmail account google hangouts can be downloaded on your phone and used while you’re logged into your gmail account on your browser, this is also free.
It is a good idea to arrange a time to chat or check-in periodically to avoid unnecessary worries while your loved one is abroad.
Make sure the correct dates for flights are booked. This is sometimes done through the university your loved one is enrolled in but often students are encouraged to do so on their own depending on their program. If your loved one is traveling independently on the weekends it is important that they let you know. It is mandatory that your loved one tells us where they are going if they are traveling on the weekends. For these trips, your loved one can register on STEP. STEP is a program for US citizens and Nationals traveling or living abroad who want to receive information from the Embassy about safety conditions and to help contact you in emergencies such as: a natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency. See if your home country has a similar registry and consider signing up.
Visas, Passports, Immunizations:
- If your loved one has a passport, it should be valid up to 6 months after your loved one leaves their host-country.
- It may be important to assist your loved one with applying for their passport. This should be done well in advance of their travels. Many colleges have passport facilities or have information about how and where to apply for a passport through their study abroad office.
- Each country is different, some require visas for long term stays such as semesters abroad, some do not. It is important to make sure a student has a visa if required. Students should plan far in advance for a visa.
- It is encouraged that parents and guardians communicate with their loved ones to discuss their travel plans. It is helpful to get a copy of their flight information prior to their journey. It is also good to take a copy their their passport, visa (as required), international health insurance information, and other important documents in case of emergency.
- Some countries require students to be immunized, if this is so it is important to know what is required of your loved one upon entry to the country they will be traveling to. Many campus health centers may be able to assist you with this, or please check with your doctor. Please see this link for more information: Travel.State.Gov
Currency and Banking:
- Because countries use different currencies. It is important to know before you travel what the currency will be in the country your student will be studying.
- For Example: In Ireland the Euro is used as currency. ATM machines are available around the country. Make sure your student is aware of fees that may occur to withdraw cash internationally. Cash is good to have while in rural parts of Ireland.
Here’s some additional materials which you may find helpful when your loved one goes abroad:
- Do I need a Visa?– If you’re unsure if you need a Visa see here to enter your country of citizenship to see if there is a Visa requirement in the country you intend to study.
- U.S. Visa travel information– If you are a U.S. citizen and are unsure if you need a travel Visa this is a good tool to see if your country of study requires one.
- E.U. Visa travel information– If your country is part of the E.U. please use this as a guide for Visa information in the country you are traveling.
- Common Concerns– A parent’s guide to study abroad.
- Help for disadvantaged loved ones -Interesting article about helping minorities or low-income students study abroad.
- Hesitations about sending your loved one abroad- A good read if you’re debating sending your family member abroad to study.
- STEP: Smarter Travel Enrollment Program, a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
- Registration of Canadians Abroad: a free service that allows the Government of Canada to notify you in case of an emergency abroad or a personal emergency at home.
- USA Study Abroad-Information for parents about studying abroad with government resources.
- U.S. State Dept– Websites of U.S. Embassies, Consulates, and Diplomatic Missions.
- First generation study abroad students– Studying abroad as a first generation college loved one.
Contact Learn International in case of emergency:
All programs have a 24/7 contact which your loved one has in-country in case of emergency. They will receive this number at their orientation.
If you feel there is an emergency you may contact Learn International:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ireland – Office Phone: +353.(0)45.939.773 (Available from 9:00am-5:00pm)
- Please get our 24/7 on-call phone number from your loved one when they arrive.
If your loved one worked with a study abroad office at their home institution, please also contact them if you are unable to get in touch with any of our staff.
How to help your loved when they return from studying abroad:
There are many feelings, emotions, and thoughts that return with students after they study abroad. One of the most common is reverse culture shock. This is when a student returns from experiencing a different culture for a long period of time and they are adjusting to life back in their home country. Here are some ways you can help your child ease into their return back home:
- It is important to be engaged in your loved one’s experience. Showing interest in your loved one’s international education journey is important to their well-being upon their return.
- Encourage your loved one to be involved on their campus with their study abroad office.
- Often there are opportunities for students to share their experiences with other students.
- Upon returning your loved one may have a new approach to their independence. It is important to let them flourish.
- Allowing your loved one to embrace their new found independence can only be empowering to them.
- You can encourage them to journal about their experiences and also get back into a routine, exercise etc. which will help them adjust if they’re having a difficult time.
- It is good to encourage your loved ones to visit their career center on campus to update their resume.
- If your loved one is having a particularly difficult time, encourage them to link in with other study abroad alumni or talk to a professional counselor.
Please note: We do honor confidentiality laws; therefore, for participants over 18 years of age, we cannot discuss personal, academic or medical information without prior written consent from the participant.
Ireland Office: +353 (0)45 939773