Parent Concerns – My child is going to study abroad!

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I’m anxious about my daughter leaving home to study abroad.

That’s normal. Which caring parent would not feel some level of concern about their child leaving home, let alone going off travelling to another continent for an extended period? It’s OK to be concerned. Here’s a few things to reflect upon that may get rid of the worry monster:

  • All study destinations are carefully selected by us. We would only send your children to places we would send our children to.
  • A support structure organically forms between friends. Your child will make friends with other international students and they will help each other.
  • Universities do provide support and security to their international students in the case of any emergencies.
  • Does our world view have space for the understanding that everything is under the guidance of a Higher Power?

Go with your daughter the first time and see what the place is like

Generally we’d advise against parents accompanying their kids on the first trip over to their study abroad destination. Why? A large part of the learning process for new students is about gaining independence and taking on new responsibilities. I’ve observed that the presence of a parent hinders this process. Many times, when working with just  arrived students, I would find anxious parents who would slow us down with their concerns. In a small period of time, we have to orientate, register and see accommodation options. There’s lots to be done in a fast paced environment.

I’d suggest that you go visit once your child has settled in. Go on a holiday together with them to explore the country they’re studying in. From our experience, this always works out better.

By letting your child go off on their own, you’re essentially saying, “I trust you and I know you are responsible enough to make this work”. This is their opportunity to make a giant leap forward. It’s a huge thing. They’re going to pick up skills and know-how that are way beyond what their colleagues studying at home have the opportunity to be exposed to.

With all that said, if you decide to go…

Sometimes you know your child well enough to know they’re going to need a hand getting settled. Go along then, but try to encourage them to take the lead and make the decisions. Stay in the background and play the part of a friendly counsellor or observer. Offer your suggestions but let them make the decisions. Pretend that you’re going along more for a holiday or break from work rather than out of concern for them.

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