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4 Best Reminders of Home to Send Your Student Studying Abroad

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By: Julia Dunn, Uloop

Have students studying abroad? To an extent, it’s probably as hard for you as it is for them.

Many parents have never been so far apart from their children, and although you likely don’t see them too often anyway because they’re away at college, studying abroad is a whole different situation — it’s much harder for you to visit them, and you might worry how they’re doing in a country across the globe from you.

Time zones can also make communication difficult, so what can you do as a parent to connect with your study abroad student? Fill their mailbox! Here are four of the best reminders of home to send your studying-abroad student:

1. Photos of what you’ve been up to                

Amass some photos of what you and your family have been doing lately — is your wife planting a new garden in the backyard? Did your family cat have kittens? If you don’t already have some somewhat recent household photos, take some and send them to your student when they’re abroad.

Many students feel out of the family loop when they travel abroad, so make an effort to involve them through sharing these photos. Your student may even choose to make a photo garland in their room abroad.

2. A recipe for their favorite meal

Many students have favorite meals that their parents make for them — special pasta with a homemade sauce and crunchy sourdough toast, a soup packed with delicious lentils and sweet potatoes, or perhaps a tasty 5-ingredient lava cake. For lots of people, food evokes memories more effectively than anything else can. Thus, a single familiar meal can mean a lot, especially to a student who happens to be homesick.

Now, it’s quite difficult to actually mail food across the world without it becoming spoiled, so the next best option is to mail your student a recipe! Depending on where they’re studying abroad, your student may have a difficult (or particularly easy) time finding the ingredients they need to replicate your classic dish.

Nonetheless, if they are able to locate the ingredients, your student will really appreciate being able to cook something that reminds them of home. You can even send them a mini recipe book, personalized with home-inspired favorites. Your student will be able to cook up these meals whenever they miss you.

3. Write them letters

Short on resources? A handwritten letter from you is a great gift for your study abroad student, especially if they’re longing for their family a lot. You might think it small, but a sweet letter will remind your student of the way you speak, which can be extremely comforting (especially if you throw into the letter some references to inside jokes between you and your student).

Again, if your student studying abroad has younger siblings, ask them to write your student a little note saying hello (or to draw a sweet picture for them). Involving as many family members as you can will help your student feel connected to their support system at home. This makes a huge difference for your student in terms of feeling secure and cared for.

4. Make a video and mail them a flash drive

Want to beat the time-zone coordination issues and actually speak to your student abroad? Film a video of your family! You can give messages to your student, talk about what’s new around the house, ask them questions (to which you obviously won’t have instant answers) and do whatever you want that will remind your student that you love them and support them overseas.

You can be silly, smiley, as goofy as you please — your student will just be excited to see you! Additionally, if your student has a young sibling, make sure to give that sibling some screen time to do something funny (children are hilarious on camera, and many students fear that studying abroad will just contribute to them missing out on seeing siblings grow up). Once you’re done recording, save the video and store it on a flash drive that your student will be able to plug into their computer for a sweet homemade surprise.

If you’re looking to send your student packages abroad, know that they don’t have to be filled with anything extremely extravagant — no need to spend hundreds of dollars on products you think they need abroad (it’s best for them to let you know what they need you to send, and you can message them for free on Facebook or WhatsApp if you don’t have an international plan set up for their smartphones). After all, it’ll cost you enough to simply ship the package.

The best things you can send to your student? Simple mementos that are unique to your own family. A personalized item is always more fun to receive than a gift card (although students do love gift cards). All you have to do is show your student that you’re thinking of them; that’s what students really need when they go abroad.

Although, they probably will run out of socks, too, at some point …

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