Few events elicit as much excitement as leaving home to study abroad. Making a long distance move is a wonderful way to explore new cultures and make memories that last a lifetime, but your family may experience some anxiety and worry about your wellbeing while you are away. To keep your family feeling confident in your safety while you’re at school, consider the following four useful tips.
#1 Share Important Contact Info
Sharing important contact info will go a long way towards easing your family’s nerves, but the key here is to go beyond the basics. In addition to the phone number and address of the place you’ll be living, provide your family with information for your assigned academic advisor, residence hall monitor (also known as an “RA”), and the International Student Office at your school. This may feel excessive, but for your parents it offers added peace of mind.
Once you arrive at school, figure out blocks of time that work for regular catch-up conversations with your family. If you are not a big talker, consider setting times when you can be reached in case your family needs to speak with you. Be sure to give them a general idea of when you may be out of range (for example, during your gym workout). Finally, let your family know if there are certain times or places where your phone does not get reception. Maintaining regular contact with your family is the best way to keep them from worrying. Email works too, of course.
#2 Research the Culture Together
Before leaving for school, spend some time with your family researching the communication nuances of the region you’ll be living in. For instance, sitting in the back seat of a taxi and chatting on your cellphone is perfectly acceptable in New York City, but in some parts of the world such as New Zealand, this will offend taxi drivers. Using a “thumbs up” gesture is a positive one in many countries including the U.S., but it’s considered offensive in Israel, South America and Italy.
Work together to dig into the unique customs, gestures, and language of your new country. Your family will feel better about your safety if they know you have done your research into the region’s customs.
#3 Prepare for Unforeseen Costs
Before you leave home, work with your family on a financial contingency plan and discuss what will happen in the event that unforeseen costs arise. These may include costs associated with medical or housing emergencies, or mundane occurrences such as a laptop repair or lost phone. Connect with your bank, credit providers, and other fiscal institutions to ask questions regarding services offered. Setting up an emergency fund with your family for unforeseen situations will go a long way to ease your family’s nerves, not to mention reduce your risk of getting stuck halfway around the world without the ability to pay for services. It’s also worth investigating the emergency services offered abroad by your school before you leave, as well as services offered by your bank or credit provider once your arrive.
#4 Plan a Family Visit At Your School
If possible, plan a time for your family to visit you at school once you’ve settled into your classes. Many students find that Parents’ Weekend is the perfect time for a family visit. Most schools host a broad range of activities and programs designed specifically for Parents Weekend. Students often report that a campus visit – offering a chance to familiarize your family with the campus, the locale, and your friends − was the perfect way to ease their family’s concerns.
About the Author
As the lead editor for Accelerated Degree, Joy Miller reviews schools offering fast-track degrees and courses through online study.