Back to School Basics for Study Abroad: What Parents Should Know

United States By Christy Lowry September 5, 2022

Tips for parents for helping their child prepare to study abroad for the first time.

Seeing your child travel to a foreign country alone for the first time can be overwhelming for any parent. However, studying abroad is integral to any college student’s education. Studying abroad helps students connect with different cultures, build self-confidence, and become more advanced in their studies. It teaches cultural awareness and lets your child build global friendships and connections.

Even with all these positives, it can be nerve-wracking for a parent to see their child move away (even temporarily) to another country. There are a few basics you should know before your child gets ready to sail abroad. We can walk you through the essentials and explain how you and your child can support one another through this transition.

Choosing the right study abroad program

First, your child should choose an excellent program that advances their studies. The exchange program must be compatible with your child’s major, or they could miss out on necessary credits and delay their graduation date. Help your child choose an exciting program in a beautiful setting which still furthers their college education. Your child might want to consider a program through their university or seek assistance from their study abroad office.

Help them fill out the paperwork 

There is a lot of paperwork required to study abroad, so be prepared to walk your child through all the necessary documents. They’ll need a passport, a student visa, healthcare, and travel insurance. Plus, different countries may have additional requirements. Paperwork is a headache on the best of days, so try to be patient and help your child fill out the necessary forms.

Teach your child to spend money wisely 

This might be your child’s first time managing money by themselves. If they’re not careful, studying abroad can get expensive quickly. Teach your child how to budget and manage their money wisely so they don’t accidentally overspend. Also, ask them to check with their study abroad office to see if their university offers scholarships or other financial tips.

Know that if your child needs money for an emergency, Western Union can easily help you send money abroad. You can quickly send your child money from home through Western Union’s mobile app or WU’s website . You can also reliably transfer funds from any of Western Union’s 59,000 U.S. locations.* Your child can then receive the money in the local currency into their bank account or draw it out in cash from an in-person agent location. You can also send money to your child ahead of time, so it’s waiting for them to use in the local currency.

Expect to miss your kid 

It’s completely normal to miss your child when they’re far away from home. However, studying abroad allows your child to be fully independent and discover information about themselves. Allow your child the space they need to explore, gain confidence, and be on their own. Encourage open communication and perhaps schedule weekly video calls, so they can keep you updated on their explorations.

Walk them through any challenges 

Don’t be surprised if your child is homesick or goes through challenges during their study abroad program. Living abroad can be quite a cultural shock and potentially overwhelming. Travel mishaps, feeling out of place, and loneliness are all natural challenges that can affect a student’s confidence. Walk your child through the hard stuff and remind them of why they wanted to study abroad in the first place. Explain to them that it’s important to challenge yourself, and that home will always be waiting for them.

It can be difficult to see your child move far away home, but over time they will become more confident and independent. As you walk each other through this experience together, you might even become closer during the process. Good luck!

* Agent location count valid as of December 31, 2021.

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