Every parent wants their child to bloom into an independent, successful person, but the thought of sending the offspring overseas can be unsettling. ReachIvy wants to assure parents that they are not alone in this journey. So here are five things parents must take care of, while sending their children abroad:
1. Pay attention to your child’s physical and mental health
It is no fun to live alone in an unknown place, when you are suffering from a flu or fever. The first step towards ensuring health safety is to meet all immunisation requirements. This is important not just to meet college requirements, but to also protect your child from outbound diseases. Unlike here in India, medical costs abroad are steep.Without medical insurances in place, it can burn a hole in your pocket, should a medical emergency arise. You may want to study the travel and health insurance policies of the college of your choice. If your college does not provide one, you can buy broad-spectrum medical and travel insurances that take care of exigencies.
Teach your child to make the right food choices. While it may not be feasible to cook elaborate meals every day, it is always possible to fix a quick meal without compromising on quality or price. In a new region, where food is unfamiliar to the palate, settling for the right choice may also become a challenge. Help your child locate and make healthy food choices.
2. Know your host country
How well do you know the college that your child is applying to? Look out for points that raise the red flag. Specifically, study the student profile; dig deeper into issues such as international student ratio, languages spoken, and cultural diversity. Colleges that list ethnic diversity in their objectives send out strong signals of inclusiveness. Talk to alumni, international students, or anyone who has been to that university or course your child has selected. Information about accreditation, campus safety measures, international student associations are also good resources. Testimonials are also a good place to start. Connect with the alumni or admissions officers visiting your region for a seminar or exhibition. They are best equipped to provide you with safety related information.
3. Stay in touch
Students going abroad have a lot on their plate. They have to grapple with many challenges to balance their life. The stress can take a toll on their health. Look out for stress signals, changes in behavior, or anxiety signs. Be open-minded and supportive. When you stay in different time zones, a simple task like talking over the phone can be quite a challenge. Moreover, the homework, classwork, projects, research, and on-campus jobs take up the whole day. It is important to stay informed about your child’s daily routine. If weekdays are busy, set up weekend chats. You can consider using VoIP systems such as Skype or WhatsApp Call to cut costs. Email, text messages, and chats are other ways to stay connected.
4. Be alert and stay informed
Students who are living alone abroad find the whole experience daunting. They have to grapple with many challenges and balance their life. As a parent, you can do precious little. However, it is important to stay alert to any negative influences that may be affecting your child. Is your child subjected to bullying or racial abuse? Though most universities have strict policies against college bullying and substance abuse, a few may escape the radar. If your child is affected by unwanted elements, approach the school authorities at the earliest. Make sure that your child feels safe. Teach him to not buckle under pressure, and report to the office immediately. If your child is a victim of racial abuse, you should inform the school authorities, and lodge a formal complaint with the local police.
5. Reach out for help when you feel insecure
Every parent has the right to ensure safety of their child while studying abroad. If you feel that your child is unsafe, or is under undue duress, approach the authorities right away. There is no shame in trying to protect your child. At the same time, don’t suffocate your child’s independence or free thinking by imposing rigid rules. As long as your child and you are in agreement with the safety protocols, you can take all measures to protect your child.
Studying abroad is the best way for a student to develop responsibility and individuality. While safety measures should not stifle growth, it should not overlook key concerns of parents sending their child for higher studies abroad.
(The writer is the Founder and Chief Education Officer, Reachivy.com)