There are a variety of ways in which you can help your loved ones have the most rewarding experience possible:
It is extremely important to discuss safety and health precautions with your son/daughter both prior to departure and during their study abroad experience. Make sure that s/he understands the importance of keeping current and correct contact information. All participants receive contact information prior to departure and any local contact information will be distributed at the in-country orientation.
Ask your son/daughter to share the pre-departure materials that they received during their program orientation. They will need to share their contact information with you, as the program cannot release this to you. If possible, look at other guidebooks, such as Moon Guide or Lonely Planet, together. The more you know about the host country, the better equipped you will be to prepare your student for safe and healthy travel.
Emphasize Regular Communication
Remember to emphasize how important it is that s/he maintains regular communication with the Faculty Leader and, if applicable, the local onsite provider while abroad. The Faculty Leader and onsite provider are the most immediate sources of assistance to students in both routine and urgent matters. Prior to traveling during breaks or weekends, students should always inform the Faculty Leader of their plans through the Weekend Travel Plan Form, and seek out information regarding safety precautions for their destinations.
While abroad, students sometime create unnecessary anxiety at home when they do not communicate with their loved ones or other important contacts. Before departure, impress upon your student the importance of maintaining regular contact with you if that’s your desire. Establish together the means by which you will communicate and how often. In the event of a local emergency, discuss alternate contacts when they cannot reach you. Decide on a workable plan that outlines when and how s/he will contact you to confirm safe arrival in the host country and keep you informed of independent travel plans.
Encourage Pre-Departure Research
Encourage your loved one to regularly review the U.S. Department of State Information for the study location and for any destinations s/he plans to visit during program breaks or weekends, as well as general Department of State advice for U.S. citizens and students abroad.