» Supporting Your Student's Study Abroad
+ - Application Period
- Check the Getting Started student section to find out about eligibility, the application process, costs, and financial aid information.
- Talk to your student about a monthly budget while abroad. This should take into account travel, going out, dining out, fun money, etc. Also, discuss an emergency plan if they run out.
- Some students will have the opportunity to book group flights. Payments are made directly to program provider for flight fees.
- Student should take copies of prescriptions in case it needs to refilled or replaced if lost. Many times brand name medications are not available but the pharmacist/chemist will be able to dispense a generic equivalent. They should take with them all the medication they will need for the duration of them time they will be abroad.
- The Visa application process is GRUELING! If you are aware of the hassles and hoops to jump through, you and your student will be less frustrated by them.
- Students should not take anything they cannot carry themselves, nor bring heirlooms or special valuables.
- Remind your student that Internet Access around the world is NOT like what they are accustomed to in the US:
- The speed may be slow and cumbersome, or not exist at all.
- They may not have access in their rooms. (Internet Cafés and libraries)
- It may not be free.
- They may experience some anxiety when they can’t IM, Twitter, or Facebook as often as they are used to.
- Skype, Google Chat, etc. are software or web programs that lets you talk over the Internet to anyone in the world for free.
- Remember that the effect and effectiveness of medications can change with changes in stress, diet and climate.
- Be prepared for your student to feel sad as he/she grieves leaving, being away from Chapman, friends, and family for an extended length of time.
- Remind them that radical differences are normal.
- Housing difference may exist. Sometimes housing is older, rooms are smaller, and plumbing is weaker.
- Favorite foods may be unavailable or different (ex. No ranch dressing).
+ - While They're Abroad
Tips While Abroad
- Your student will have an extensive on-site orientation program upon arrival. (Some students are met at airport.)
- During the first few days of students being abroad, it’s important for you to be supportive, comforting and rational. Be the voice of calm.
- Visit Program Contact for Provider/Host Institution contact information abroad.
- Promote a relationship between your student and the host Coordinator/Resident Director who can assist students with academic, student life and adjustment issues.
- Be calm when receiving tearful phone calls — Most students will be disappointed and frustrated at some point. Listen and give positive reinforcement. Remind your student why he/she was so excited to leave and what he/she articulated wanting to learn.
- Encourage your student to solve their own problems, it will only make them stronger and more independent!
- Refrain from calling your student every day! They are establishing their independence and need to have space to do so.
- Communication is done with/to the student via Chapman CGE and the program provider. You will not be updated by the school or the CGE; it is your student’s responsibility to keep you updated.
- Parental involvement abroad is very different than in the US—students are expected to be more independent. If there is an issue, let your student resolve it or the CGE help defuse it—do not immediately call the host institution with a grievance.
- Make contact with people who have successfully gone through the experience of returning home and refer the returnee to them—it may help both you and the returnee through a difficult period of re-adaptation.
(© 2001 Adapted by Bruce La Brack and Margaret D. Pusch from a handout originally created by Dr. Peter Stadler, Solothurn, Switzerland, for distribution at the SIETAR Congress, Munich, Germany, 1996.)
+ - After They Return Home
Students often find that the adjustment to returning home is more difficult than to the foreign culture. Students know their home, but may not realize how much they changed while abroad and have different expectations at this point in the experience. The Student Psychological Counseling Center offers study abroad returnee group sessions to help students talk through their adjustment process back home.
Students will go through reverse culture shock and it is in your best interest to be aware of the source of negative feelings. In time, your student will be able to incorporate an appreciation for the positive aspects of the culture at home as well as abroad. Read some tips for what you can do as a parent when your student returns home.
Tips for Parents Welcoming Returnees Home
- Understand that "reverse culture shock" is a real phenomenon and learn to recognize its symptoms so you can offer appropriate support to the returnees.
- Realize that returning home is often not a predictable process and can be more stressful than either the returnee or you anticipate. Be prepared to offer support long-distance as s/he anticipates coming home and especially after his or her return.
- Understand that most returnees are, in some ways, different than they were before they left home. They may initially seem to be "strangers." It is hard to know what their experiences have meant to them and how they have changed. It may be necessary to "renegotiate" your relationship with returnees, but your history together will provide a basis for this process.
- Be aware of your own expectations of the returnees. You may wish that they would just "fit back in" but it is more helpful if you avoid forcing the returnees into old roles and relationships. Allow them space and time to readjust and reconnect.
- Be conscious of all those things that have changed at home. Help returnees to understand what has taken place both in the society and among friends and family during his/her absence. Even if they have heard about these events, the impact at home may not have been obvious. You have much to tell them and they can tell you how events at home looked from their overseas perspective.
- Avoid criticism, sarcasm, or mockery for seemingly odd patterns of behavior, speech, or new attitudes.
- Create opportunities for the returnees to express their opinions, tell their stories and show their pictures. Listen carefully and try to understand the significance of their overseas experiences. Seek to know what is important to them.
- Acknowledge that all returnees experience some sense of loss. Strange as it may seem to others, returnees often grieve for what they have left behind. They may be missing overseas friends, a stimulating environment, the feeling of being special, experiencing greater freedoms or responsibilities, or special privileges.
- Encourage the returnees to maintain personal and professional contacts with friends and institutions in the former host country. They will regret it if they do not.
- Offer to celebrate the return of your student. Discuss his or her preference for how and when to do so. Be careful of "surprise" parties.
- Expect some critical comparisons of culture and lifestyle. Keep your responses neutral. It can increase your chances to learn something important about the returnees and how their world view has changed. Don't take their comments personally.