The Parent’s Perspective in Regards to Studying Abroad – Part 2

By Paula Wethington

(This guest post continues a discussion started yesterday about being a parent and sending a child abroad.)

Once the decision to study abroad has been made, here are some details that will make the experience less stressful from a parent’s perspective:

  • Do not expect to be in contact with your student every day. Overseas phone calls are expensive, even when phone cards or mobile phones are involved; and it may not even be possible to find an Internet connection every day. My request to my daughter has long been “check in at least once a week,” with a text, email, snail mail, Facebook message or phone call. That schedule worked out just as well for her overseas trips as it has for when she is away to college.
  • Do insist on having emergency contact phone numbers and information both for you to contact your student or program staff, and for them to contact the family members back home if needed.
  • If your program or travel guide has not made arrangements for travel insurance, even for a trip of a few days’ duration, then make your own arrangements and pay for it out-of-pocket. You will be glad to have travel insurance if a family emergency or medical situation requires those services.
  • Discuss with your student ahead of time what family emergency or circumstances in which you would ask them to come home early. Even with travel insurance to ease the out-of-pocket expenses, you will not be able to get your student home from overseas as fast as if he or she were in the U.S.
  • Attend all parent orientation meetings if they are offered, and insist that your student attends all of his or her orientation meetings and takes detailed notes. These meetings are where the students and families learn about sign-up deadlines, college credit requirements and other important details.
  • If your student will be out of the country for more than a few days, make arrangements for financial power of attorney and related legal documents to be prepared or updated before he or she leaves. I did use the financial POA authority multiple times when my daughter was on her semester study abroad.
  • Make sure a trusted family member or friend who can travel on short notice has a passport and is aware of the student’s travel itinerary. I didn’t get a passport when my daughter went to Japan, as other family members had passports and could have stepped in if necessary. But I did get a passport shortly before her semester in South Africa because the relatives who had passports were not able to travel that spring.

Paula Wethington lives in Monroe, Mich., where she is a reporter and frugal living / personal finance columnist and blogger for The Monroe Evening News.

To read the first part of this guest blog on a parent’s perspective on study abroad: