Communication While Abroad
It may not be possible to get the actual email and phone numbers until your student arrives in the host country. In that case, your student needs to contact you first to give you their information.
Do not worry if you do not hear from your student within the first few hours of their arrival! Your son or daughter will contact you when he or she gets settled in. Be assured that the on-site program staff or the Center for Global Education will always notify parents if there is a serious problem.
It is very common for a student to experience some degree of homesickness or difficulty transitioning to a new culture when he or she goes abroad – even a student who has traveled previously. Being in a new and different environment is challenging and takes a little getting used to; some students adapt sooner while others need more time. Do not be too concerned if your son or daughter has some ups and downs while adjusting to life in his or her new country. Culture adjustment issues are very normal and most students experience them to some degree.
A few helpful tips:
- Maintain communication with reasonable frequency but not on a daily basis.
- Keep the program calendar in mind – if you haven’t heard from your son or daughter, it may be because he or she is on a program excursion or traveling during a break.
- Monitor online information and advisories from the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs.
- Contact the program provider should you or your son or daughter need assistance.
- If your student appears to be having difficulties adjusting to new surroundings, please let the Center for Global Education know. Often, we are able to contact someone at the host university or on site, whom we trust to determine whether there is a problem, provide a different perspective on the situation, or arrange for appropriate intervention;
- Do not encourage your student to come home or ‘feed’ their depression. Encourage him or her to continue to remain involved; in many cases the problem your son or daughter calls you about solves itself within 24 hours. Resist your initial urge to fly over and save the day.
- Encourage your student to seek out the people necessary to help resolve the problem and let your student take the lead in doing so.
- Ask your student to call you back within the next 24 hours. Usually by that time he or she is feeling better and problems are solved – but your student will often forget to call and tell you that part!
- Remember: Stay in touch – but not too often! The acculturation process will be slow if your student spends too much time emailing and talking on the phone to family and friends back home. Instead, encourage your student to spend more time exploring the city, making new friends, and learning the ways of the host country.
- Most importantly, avoid stepping in to solve problems for your son or daughter and urge them to find a solution on their own. Offer your support and let your son or daughter know that you trust them to make the right decisions while studying abroad.
Both you and your student should be aware that the U.S. Department of State maintains a website for U.S citizen students who are, or will be, studying abroad. The website addresses the following subject areas: