Study abroad guide for parents
All you need to know when sending your child to study abroad
Honestly, that’s one of the bravest decisions you’ll ever make, and yes, the most crucial one for your child. Studying abroad means your child will come back with international exposure and a widened mindset. As a parent, it is your responsibility to support your child in this decision and also gear up to be a part of the process.
What you need to do as a parent?
You need to know what motivates your child. As a parent, you should be an active part of their decision-making procedure to ensure they take the right calls in life.
- Discuss goals openly
Sit down and understand why your child wants to go abroad – whether it is career-driven or personal. It is important to know what exactly your child seeks in life to be able to guide or support them.
- Research extensively
As a parent it is your responsibility to research about the courses your child is interested in, the universities they have been talking about and the kind of lifestyle they would most thrive in.
- Consider your challenges
Reach out to friends and family whose children have gone abroad. Ask them about the challenges you are likely to face and figure out how to deal with them.
- Seek detailed counselling
We offer free counselling sessions for students who wish to study abroad to further their career. You can come to your nearest IDP office and set up a free appointment. Bring your wish list so we can help guide your child through the journey.
- Know how much you will have to spend
Having an estimate of the costs involved in sending your kids abroad can help you make a better decision. However, it’s not just the tuition fee alone you should be calculating in your budget, there’re a lot more expenses involved when you plan to send your child to study abroad. Consider other expenses such as accommodation, food, health coverage, communication and travel as well!
Our guide on overall cost of studying can help ease your financial budgeting for your child’s stay abroad.
- Make a detailed plan
Once you have an overview of what goes into sending your child abroad, make a plan. Consider all factors including course and university selection, finances, visa, etc.
Safeguard their health before they leave
Ensure to get your child’s general physical examination, dental checkup, and a gynecological checkup (if applicable). Get them all shots and relevant boosters.
If your child wears glasses or contacts, get them a typed copy of their prescription. Help them with an extra pair of spectacles or contacts in case of emergency.
If there are specific medicines prescribed to your child, speak with their doctors who’ll help them with the name, potency, and purity of the medicine available in their destination. When helping your kids with packing, ensure to keep the medicines in the original container/packaging only along with the doctor’s prescription.
Travel safety is crucial!
Yes, it’s worrisome to send your child thousands of kilometres away, and that’s why it is important to ensure about their travel safety.
- You can’t forget travel insurance! Ensure your child is insured before they leave.
- Sign up for a safety program. For instance, the U.S. Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) keeps your child and you both updated with travel alerts and notifications while they are abroad. It also notifies the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate in case of an emergency.
- Research about the do’s and don’ts of the new destination
- Know about the local laws and international student rights
- Encourage your child to be a healthy traveller to avoid potential health risks owing to new food, water and climate.
- Stock them up with emergency supplies in case they take time to adjust to new food.
- Ensure they are vaccinated for common diseases in new destination.
- If possible, enrol them in a self-defence class before they depart for the new destination.
- Both parents and children should keep emergency numbers handy.
- Update your child on basic travel safety tips
Finally your child is abroad. Now what?
We know it was a hard goodbye, but keeping updated about your child’s well-being is not that tough. Here’s how you can keep in touch with them:
1. Decide how you will communicate
There are many mediums using which you can keep connected with your child – email, Skype, Facebook, Viber, WhatsApp, etc. See what’s most convenient to the both of you and install to start interacting. Please know that while you can use any of these platforms, do not use all of them. Give your child some space.
2. Pre-decide a time to talk
When you pre-decide when to talk, it sets the right expectations for both parents and children. You know when to talk and how often to keep in touch without cringing on their personal space. Usually the best time to decide this is when your child is settled in their program. This is when they can plan more confidently about their time schedules and plans.
In cases when your child is not able to respond to your calls or messages, don’t panic immediately. It could be due to a hectic schedule, low WiFi bandwidth or variance in time zones. It’s best to keep your timings flexible and not be over-demanding. This will help prevent any agitation if unable to cope with the difference in time zones.
3. Keep emergency contacts handy
Both parents and children should have some emergency contacts saved in phones at all times. For instance, keep handy the contact details of their college representatives or some close friends to reach out to if they are not reachable for a longer period of time.
4. Keep in touch with the authorities
Many institutions have forums where they involve parents in many activities, be a part of the same and volunteer for some responsibilities if possible. Keep in touch with the study program authorities, student counsellors, etc.
Further, as a parent you can also keep updated about your child’s in-country activity via email newsletters, Facebook pages, Twitter, or even instant photo and video updates on Snapchat. When selecting a program, be sure to check out their current social media platforms to get a feel for how to stay updated once your child is abroad.
5. They need some practical advice. Guide them
Guide your kids about practical survival skills to sustain abroad. Life overseas is going to completely different from India – educate your kids on money management and budgeting. Guide them on how to plan their monthly expenses so that they do not overspend.
While there are many Indian restaurants abroad, it’d be best to teach your kids some basic recipes for times when they can’t go out or order in. Unlike India, helps aren’t available that cheap abroad and your kids will have to take care of staple house chores on their own. Teach them how to manage these along with their coursework, job and student activities.
6. Emotional support matters
Sending your child abroad is a difficult decision and it is equally challenging for your child to move abroad. Help your child at every step of the way – they need your emotional support. Involve yourself in their decisions, encourage and motivate them for what they do. At times, your emotional support will help your child more than just the financial support.
7. React later, listen first
Your child has gone abroad and will experience many new things and adventures. They would also go through a range of emotions that they have never felt before. When they share about these with you, it is important for you to listen to them patiently. React only if necessary and give them advice subtly if you think it could sound harsh in some cases.
8. Spend quality time before leaving
Create some memories before they depart for the new destination. Go out, play games, spend some real quality time for them to cherish when abroad.
9. Pre-departure help/talk/sessions
Prepare your child for the big change so that they’re able to cope up with the cultural shock and are open to adjusting to a completely new environment. Better still, come to one of our pre-departure sessions wherein we brief them on life abroad, challenges and how to adjust in new destination.
How to send money abroad if your child needs?
The easiest way to transfer funds to your kids is by directly depositing into the bank account connected with his/her ATM card. Alternatively, you can either send international money orders available and cashed at post offices or purchase cashier’s check from the bank in the currency of the host country. Keep in mind that this usually has a service charge levied.
One of the most popular methods to send money overseas from India is through services like Western Union and MoneyGram. In case of a bank in the host city, you can make a wire transfer although this may take up to 48 to 72 hours.