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Rochester, MI 48309-4482
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Welcome Parents, Friends and Family of a student preparing to Study Abroad

Study Abroad Tips for Parents

Your son/daughter has decided to study abroad. Studying abroad poses many questions for parents as well as students.  Here are a few tips to get you through this exciting and sometimes overwhelming endeavor.

Be informed: 

You will probably feel more secure about your student studying abroad if you do some research before departure.

  • Research the destination country. Include history, culture, customs, laws, social/moral codes, dress, and language.
  • Join in with your student to learn key local words and phrases.
  • Read all program literature and any available student blogs of studying abroad.
  • Ask questions of your student, the advisor, or a program administrator. All questions are good questions!

Let go:

Although difficult to do, letting go is an essential part of sending your student off on a study-abroad program. Start the process well before departure.

  • Allow your student to make most of the study-abroad decisions – offer guidance, not supervision.
  • Provide your student with the information and resources he/she needs to make informed decisions.
  • Don’t expect to hear from your student everyday while he or she is abroad.
  • Talk with other parents who have had students previously study abroad – try to prepare for the emotions they say they experienced.

Pack light:

Help your student pack light and wisely.

  • The host country will typically have all the supplies your student will need for daily living and thus it is NOT necessary to bring everything from home.  Clothing, bedding, personal hygiene products, and snack foods are readily found in local markets in the host country.
  • Have your student walk around with packed bags to make sure he/she will be able to handle the luggage once he/she leaves the house. Your student will be responsible for lugging his/her suitcase/backpack/duffle while traveling.
  • If your student wears glasses, get an extra pair or two to take.
  • If your student is taking any prescription medications, send an extra supply and copy of the prescription. Obtain a note from the doctor regarding his/her need of the medication, in case any questions arise passing through customs in the host country.


Keep in touch with your student during the overseas study – it is important for both of you.

  • Establish a communications plan with your student prior to departure. Realize that the plan may need to be adjusted once your student has settled into a study-living routine.
  • Encourage your student to start a blog while away so that you (and any other family members or friends) can follow along with the adventure. Blogs are inexpensive and a fun way to keep in touch. You may consider starting your own blog to keep your student current on what is going on back home.
  • Students and parents should both have a set of emergency contacts with them at all times, including contacts at the host university and program sponsors.


Long before departure, teach your student responsible ways to handle finances.

  • Have your child manage some money before departing.
  • Devise a financial plan with your child for the time he or she will be abroad. List the expected expenses. Make a column for “needs” and “wants.”
  • To limit spending and avoid lost money, tech your child to take money out of the ATM as little at a time. For example on  Mondays, take out the cash required for the week.
  • Have your student exchange currency once at the destination

Student Responsibility:

Help your student increase his/her sense of responsibility. It will be beneficial while abroad, and in general.

  • Discuss financial, social and academic responsibility with your student. Explain that much of what is expected at home will be expected abroad, and more.
  • Encourage your student to resolve his/her own issues while abroad. Parents should only get involved after the student has exhausted all of his/her resources.
  • Have your student do the bulk of the study-abroad research. It will help to empower the student and teach the benefit of thinking ahead and analyzing what is best for him or her as an individual.
  • Let your student know that you trust him/her to make the right decisions while studying abroad.

The typical concern for most parents of students studying abroad is safety. Study abroad tragedies are few and far between, but educate your student on ways to stay safe in another country.

  • Encourage your student to cultivate and use “street smarts” while studying abroad. Advise them to take the precautions they take at home and more. Tell them to avoid political demonstrations, to never travel alone, to only take official taxis, and to protect their passport at all times.
  • Establish emergency procedures with your student prior to departure. Be sure to create a list of emergency contacts.
  • Use the U.S. Department of State website for current safety updates in specific countries.
  • Advise your student to avoid bringing locals back to his/her living quarters. Socializing can be done away from the student housing.


You may want to visit you student while he/she is overseas. If so, be sure to plan accordingly.

  • If you choose to visit, do so at a time that is convenient for your student. Do not visit the first weeks during orientation and adjustment, or the last week during exams.
  • Remember, it may be a vacation for you, however, your student still has responsibilities while you are visiting.
  • You will miss your student and your student will miss you, but for the ultimate growth students need to spend quality time immersed in the culture and with fellow study-abroad students.
  • Allow your son/daughter to teach you a thing or two!


Just as you prepare your student for study abroad and support him or her while away, you must also be aware of and sensitive to the reverse transition adjustment upon return.

  • Allow your son/daughter a period of adjustment when first getting home.
  • Students become accustomed to being more independent so take that into consideration during the first few weeks after return. Don't hover.
  • Encourage your student to keep in touch with the people he or she traveled with and met while studying abroad. These connections are important and can last the rest of their life.
  • Lend an attentive ear to your child when he or she gets home. Having an opportunity to share his/her stories will help in the adjustment period.  Your student will need others to listen and validate his/her experiences, and it will be a terrific bonding opportunity for both of you.

Oakland University International Education