Checklist for Parents
- Resources: Read the the three "Regulations" documents included in this website:
- Encourage your student to take responsibility for pre-departure logistics and paperwork. Confirm that your student has read the Regulations pages carefully, signed (electronically) and submitted all of the required application forms available through their electronic portfolio.
- Because of privacy laws, including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (or FERPA), Office of Study Abroad staff are not permitted to discuss student-specific information with anyone other than the student. Most questions parents have are easily answered in general terms, but if you need to speak with us more specifically, your student must sign a waiver form (download) and submit it to the office.
- Study abroad program information: Familiarize yourself with the format, goals, and philosophy of the program on which your student is about to embark.
- Take care of any outstanding financial matters at either Wesleyan or your home institution.
- Passport and visa: Your student must have a passport that is valid for at least six months (sometimes longer) beyond the end date of their program abroad. Many programs require visas as well. Applications processes for both are time consuming and can be complicated. Your student may need your help finding documents required for the application, such as a birth certificate. Information on passports for U.S. citizens can be found at www.passports.state.gov.
- Copy important documents: Keep scanned copies of your student's important documents (e.g., passport, visa, etc.), credit cards and medical records at home with you and make sure that your student will have access to the same while abroad.
- Finances: Help your student establish a plan for managing their personal finances while abroad. Discuss how your student will access funds. Call your bank/credit card companies to make sure they know your student will be traveling.
- Communication: Establish and practice your established communication plans with your son/daughter. Discuss how and how often you will contact each other. Determine when and how your student will contact you upon arrival abroad. Have a backup plan in case the first method is not available when your student arrives, and understand that flight delays and/or availability of wifi might delay your communication.
- Safety and health: Discuss safety issues with your student. We strongly encourage you to go through the Health and Safety information in the Study Abroad Handbook and on the web site of the program your student has chosen. In particular, please go over the information regarding sexual assault, and please talk about all of precautions students can take to minimize risk. While abroad, students are not as attuned to the non-verbal cues of what may be an unsafe situation in a foreign country, and this (along with other factors) places them at greater risk of assault than is the case on the home campus.
- Power of attorney: Your student may wish to arrange for "power of attorney" for you to handle his/her financial affairs while s/he is abroad.
WHILE YOUR SON OR DAUGHTER IS ABROAD:
- Encourage independence and self-reliance.
- Encourage your student to prioritize cultural and linguistic immersion over socializing with English-speaking friends from home.
- Provide your student the support for developing, above all, a network abroad. This may include avoiding frequent communications, long visits, or other activities that may interfere with language learning and cultural immersion.
- It can be extremely useful for parents to discuss health and safety information again with their students, later in the semester. There can be an increase in safety incidents and health-related problems toward the end of the semester, when students tend to let their guard down after becoming more familiar with their host country.
- Understand that all students will experience some degree of culture shock and that this may have a significant impact on what your student is communicating to you about the experience. Students may experience this at any time, but many express a desire to leave their program right at the beginning, only to overcome these feelings after a few days.
- Encourage your student to contact the Office of Study Abroad with any issues or problems that may arise. Our staff are often able to help, though we are not on site.
WHEN YOUR SON OR DAUGHTER RETURNS HOME
- Recognize that they have had a transformative experience and that they may struggle as they attempt to reconcile their own growth and changes with a world that is strangely the same.
- Understand that they may experience re-entry culture shock and that this can be even more intense than the original culture shock on arrival abroad
- Allow them to share the experience with you as much as they want.
- Gather information for yourself and, if warranted, for them regarding the re-entry experience.
The School for International Training's handbook is a useful tool: http://www.sit.edu/SSA_Other_documents/parent_reentry_handbook.pdf