5 Tips To Help Deal With Parents When Studying Abroad

Are you worried about studying abroad and having to get around on your own without your folks? Or are you instead wishing your parents would stop nagging you because you know you’ll be just fine? Whatever the case may be, parental involvement in a student’s study abroad experience requires a delicate balance.

While support from family and friends is important and necessary, too much interference can hinder the learning experience.  When you study abroad, we want you to gain independence, develop resourcefulness and increase confidence in your abilities.  To accomplish these goals, you – not your parents –  have to be the one to experience both the frustrations and successes of studying abroad.

So what should you do? Here are some tips to help involve your parents while also allowing yourself to experience the challenges of studying abroad in order to maximize your personal growth.

1. Fill out your own paperwork

This includes applications, passport infovisas, medical forms and more, and meet deadlines to return necessary paperwork. Take ownership of your experience and really commit to the full process of studying abroad. Show your parents that you are independent and capable of handling the responsibility of study abroad.

2. Make sure your parents have emergency contact information for you onsite

Your parents will feel much better if they know how to contact you in an emergency.

3. Set up a time to check in

Have a time set up to check in with your parents once you’ve arrived. Make sure that you actually call when you say you will or they may think something has happened to you. When you pick the time, give yourself a day or two after arrival to allow for the time that it takes you to figure out how to call or get an internet connection.

4. Share the information your study abroad program with your parents

The more your parents know, the more at ease they will be with your independence.  If you include them, they won’t nag. Share your IIS and country handbook with them.

5. Let them know you can address any issues on your own

You will inevitably need to vent about the things that you find inconvenient and annoying about your host country; this is a natural part of culture shock. Just remember that your parents may feel inclined to fix it. You are capable of handling difficult situations. If you are having any problems, speak with your host coordinator first. This will be the best person to help you as they understand the educational system and are there to help. Talk with your parents about culture shock and reverse culture shock before you go, to better prepare each of you if it arises.

6. Start a travel blog

Blogging about your experience allows you to document your journey for a larger group of people all at one time. Rather than having to tell the same story to your mom, dad, grandma and best friend four separate times, you can write about it once and they will all be able to follow along with you as you study abroad.  It will also decrease parental anxiety levels because it will help your parents see that you are safe and having a great time. In addition, blogging is a great professional skill that you can add to your resume. Parents will love this! You can easily create a blog on wordpress.com,wix.com, or squarespace.com. You can also join the ISEP Voices student blogger program.

These few small tips can go a long way. What is most important is that you regard study abroad as time in your life where you test your limits, overcome challenges and use your resources to navigate new situations. You are the only one that can do this. No one can do it for you, especially not your parents. If you do embrace this opportunity and challenge yourself, you will come back a more mature, independent, responsible, understanding and resourceful person – an accomplishment that both you and your parents can be proud of.

Are you ready to study abroad? Tell us what you’re looking for and we’ll work to match you with a program.

An earlier version of this post was originally shared January 9, 2013.


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