By CINDY LA ROSA
It's an experience of a lifetime. Students planning to study abroad will be exposed to a new culture, language, and way of life and can make their own adventures by challenging themselves.
As a parent, this can be scary and knowing how to protect you child on this adventure will help ease those worries. Most study abroad programs have four different sessions: one semester (four months), January term (one month), summer term (roughly six weeks), and a full academic year (usually eight months).
Most study abroad programs offer support staff and useful information before your child's departure. Review the materials closely with your child and do your own research.
Here are some essential steps in ensuring your child's safety while abroad:
- Register with the U.S. State Department for better assistance in case of an emergency. You can register online at Travel Registration.
- Locate the nearest American Embassy at the U.S. Embassy in the city or cities your child will visit.
- Make copies of all your child's important documents such as passport, visas, and credit cards.
- Most Study abroad programs require all students to have cellular phones. You can acquire one with your service provider or purchase one abroad. A low-cost alternative to paying for service abroad can be by obtaining a phone that accepts a SIM card or simply purchasing a cheap phone with a SIM card abroad.
- A cost-effective way to communicate with your child while he or she is abroad could be through Skype . This program offers special packages that allow you to directly call your child's cell phone at a low cost or chat for free online.
- Students with medical needs should make arrangements with their medical provider to have enough medicine for the entire period abroad. Some medications may not be available in the country your child will travel to.
- Although not required, an International Student Card can provide students not only with discounts, but with a valid identification. This way , he or she can leave passports or drivers licenses behind in a safe place. Student cards can be obtained through STA Travel.
Before the departure:
- Check your airline for luggage allowance and extra fees. Depending on the time the student will spend abroad, try to bring only the essentials.
- Consult the Transportation Security Administration for regulations on international travel.
- Check the State Department Travel Advisories to see whether there are any security alerts for the country to which your child will travel.
- Read reflections by students who already have studied abroad in your child's country of choice. They usually can be obtained through the study abroad program and will give you and the student a general idea of what to expect.
Adjusting to life abroad is never easy, but it encourages growth and independence. Students can travel many times abroad, but they can study, live, and work as an undergraduate in a different country only once.
Monday, in our Eye on Parenting blog,we will give you five questions your child should ask himself before planning to study abroad.