While They're Abroad
It may have felt like a Herculean effort to just get your student abroad - high five, we did it together! Now your student is off on an enriching, academic experience. While they are away, they may need your support more than ever. While abroad, your student is seeing and experiencing a new way of life. They will confront a range of emotions, some unexpectedly. It is important to stay engaged with your student to offer support, as needed, and share in their exciting new adventure.
Just remember, setting communication boundaries is important for both you and your student. You want to check in and be available but also, not take away from their international experience.
Emotional Support and Encouragement
Pre-Study Abroad Jitters
It is not uncommon for students to feel apprehensive about study abroad. These feeling can be compounded if parents, family members and guardians are constantly telling the student how much they will be missed. Typically it is more helpful to focus on the positive and new experiences that your student will have.
Receiving Complaints from Abroad
Students might experience certain difficulties within their first few weeks living abroad. Things that used to be routine might take much more effort in a foreign country. If your student calls or writes to you about these challenges, it is important to keep in mind that you are not expected to solve their problems; your student probably just needs to vent to someone they trust. Try not to be troubled by your student's complaints because in addition to the frustration they are experiencing, your student is without doubt having many wonderful experiences as well. With time, their feelings of frustration will lessen as your student becomes more familiar with the flow of life in their host country.
If you have concerns about what you're hearing from your student while abroad, you are welcome to contact the Study Abroad Office at anytime.
Seeing Where They Live
Parents and guardians often enjoy having an opportunity to visualize their student's housing. Consider requesting photos or a video of your student's living accommodations so that you have a better idea of the space where they are staying. Your student can describe for you their daily routine and tell you about their classrooms, favorite restaurants, or go-to places where they hang out with new study abroad friends.
Feeling homesick is natural and can happen to anyone regardless of age. A student who is studying abroad might encounter homesickness to one degree or another during the course of their program. Below is a chart that shows what your student might experience while studying abroad. It is important to recognize what your student might be going through so that you can do your best to understand and encourage them along the way.
Sometimes students make the mistake of asking for a ticket home when homesickness strikes. Parents and guardians who support their student by actively listening and offering words of reinforcement can help the student see themselves as resilient and feel reassured that they can successfully complete their study abroad program.
Be sure to read about Cultural Adjustment & Culture Shock for more information that will help you to be emotionally supportive and encouraging of your student while they study abroad.
Planning a Visit?
If you want to visit your student abroad, you may want to consider arranging your visit to coincide with academic breaks or after the program has ended. Then your student does not have to make the difficult choice between academic work and spending time with you. Many families find visiting or learning about the study abroad location a valuable way to feel more in touch with the experience of their student.
Please note that if you choose to visit your student on a study abroad program, the Study Abroad Office or TTU Office of International Affairs cannot support your travel to include logistical arrangements. This means we cannot organize for you to join program excursions or the like with your student.