What are the benefits of sending my student abroad?
Study abroad allows students to grow and learn in ways not possible in a classroom. Students gain cultural, historical and geographical knowledge through their experiences abroad, and they begin to look at themselves and the world differently. You cannot put a price on the academic, professional and personal growth gained through this type of experience.
How can I better prepare my student to travel abroad?
Research your student's destination together, check out travel books on the region from your local library, help your student with all the required paperwork and travel arrangements. Ask to double check your student's paperwork for accuracy. Help with packing and planning, passport procurement and a list of important numbers your student should travel with. Draft an "in case of emergency" plan with your student. Most importantly, share in your student's excitement as well as their trepidation. This may be your student's very first trip abroad. It is both daunting and thrilling. Ultimately worthwhile and invaluable.
What can I do to support my student while they are abroad?
Fortunately, technology and social media make staying in touch more convenient than ever. However, we hope you'll encourage your student to make their own decisions while abroad. This fosters independence, builds confidence, and increases problem solving skills. Ask your student to communicate regularly with their program coordinator. Answer your student's questions, offer advice, and as always, listen. Be prepared for your student to experience an array of emotions throughout their study abroad experience.
What is the best way to keep in touch with my student while they are abroad?
If a reliable internet connection is available, Skype can be used to call both land lines and mobile phones free of charge. Google Talk is an online video chat service. Time and Date is a useful website for calculating time differences, international calling codes and other travel information.
Many students will want to purchase a cell phone while abroad, which is an easy way to stay in touch with friends at home and in the host country. Many foreign providers offer pay as you go phones at reasonable prices. Buying one that takes an interchangeable SIM card will reduce costs. In addition, international calling cards that offer discounted calling rates to the United States can be purchased in many locations.
What is culture shock and how can it be managed?
Students may experience feelings of isolation, sadness and frustration in their new environment. These feelings are often preceded by excitement and euphoria. These feelings are commonly known as culture shock.
There are actually 5 stages of culture shock. During stage 1, everything is new, fun and exciting. As time goes by however, students may run into difficulties including language barriers and adjusting to their new living situations. These frustrations are indicitave of stage 2. More time passes and students gain a better understanding of the culture and adapt to their new environment (stage 3.) The fourth stage of culture shock involves a comparison and analysis of the pros and cons of each culture. Returning students often experience the final stage, reverse culture shock. They've adapted to their host country and feel like a stranger at home. As is expected, these feelings subside with time. Remind your student that their feelings are normal and a part of the process.