Academics

Advice to Give Your Student About Studying Abroad

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By Allie Caton, Uloop

Studying abroad is a big endeavor, and oftentimes a scary and stressful one too. Your student will be dropped into a completely new places where they don’t know the culture or sometimes even the language. Being their parent, they are going to look to you for advice on what to do, so you should be prepared with good and helpful answers to make them feel at east. Here are five tips on advice that you can offer your student who is going to be studying abroad:

Be respectful

More than anything, it’s important for your student to be respectful of the new culture that they are going to be living in. There is nothing worse than an American flaunting their culture in a place that relies on very different cultural values than America. Encourage your student to be open and flexible about cultural differences, and to embrace the new traditions as they come. By doing this, your child will grow an appreciation for other cultures and traditions in a way that most people don’t experience.

Research!

Encourage your student to do a lot of researching before they get on a plane to their new country. Encourage them to research the area where they are going to be living, checking it out on google maps, and researching the best and worst areas of the city. By doing this, they will be entering the country with a level of confidence that will be extremely beneficial to them. Help them get familiar with a map of the city so that they can visualize where they are when they are out exploring. This will help them keep their bearings if they get a bit turned around.

Also encourage them to research some fun things that they want to do while they are abroad. Having a few big things that they know they want to do beforehand will make planning for those things easier and less time consuming. They should also research restaurants, museums, and any seasonal events that might be happening while they are there. Doing all of this preliminary research will help them have the most fun that they can while staying safe.

Encourage them to take risks

Many students, by default, will want to play it safe in a new place. However, in order to get the most out of their experience, they are going to have to step outside of their comfort zone. Encourage them to do something that might seem scary, but to be aware of things that are genuinely dangerous. This is where preliminary research comes in. If your student goes into the new place with an idea of what areas aren’t safe and what activities aren’t safe, they are able to take risks within reason.

Try new foods!

One of the best parts about studying abroad is getting to try the local cuisine! If you have a picky student, strongly encourage them to try things that they might think look or smell weird. Even if they don’t like it, it’s all part of the experience of living and adapting to a new culture and place.

Talk to the locals

This is a big one. Really urge your student to talk to the locals of the area. If your student is going to a foreign language speaking country, they will have picked up on at least some of the language after a few weeks in, so really encourage them to talk to the locals as much as they can. If they are in an English-speaking country, encourage them to start making connections with locals right off the bat. The best way to learn about their new city is by talking to the people who have been living there for years. This is such a great way to learn and build relationships that might last them long after their time abroad.

Going abroad can be scary for both you and your student. They are going to a completely new place that will almost definitely have a time change, making it harder to talk to them. Luckily, technology makes staying connected to your student much easier than it used to be. It’s important, however, not to try and micromanage your student from home. Let them have their freedom, let them make mistakes, let them figure out how to plan and manage their time in a new country — it’s all part of the experience. Offer them advice where you can, but ultimately it is their time abroad and it will be a great learning experience!


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