As parents, it is understandably nervous to send your child to a faraway land for studies. No matter how independent or street-smart he is, you know that this time is different – you are not there to watch over his back, or pick up the mess after him. But remember that this is a nurturing process that can only help him grow – both academically and in maturity.
Thankfully, there are a lot of practical things you can do now to help prepare him (and yourself) for it.
1. Learn about the host country
Depending on which country or city your darling is heading for, chances are that the culture, customs and laws will be very different from what he is long accustomed with back home.
Start to follow the local news of the city. Join a Facebook group of parents with children in the same university. Look up online advisories of the country which often contain important local information on public safety, health and environmental issues, travel advice and warnings.
Being informed and assured will certainly help bring down anxiety levels for both you and your child.
2. Safety comes first
Sounds cliche but it cannot be further than the truth. As a new resident in a foreign country, personal safety and situational awareness is especially important.
Teach your child to be extra vigilant in unfamiliar, crowded places and be careful to keep money and valuables out of sight, especially at night.
Prepare a small pouch containing a notepad containing emergency contact numbers, addresses and clear instructions on how to react in various situations like losing his wallet or his directions. Other details to include are bank account numbers along with the local branch’s telephone number and address, as well as contact details of the local embassy or consulate.
To be extra safe, you can prepare in this pouch a small amount of cash, a backup ATM or credit card, photocopies of important documents like his visa and identification papers, and probably a few passport-sized photos in case he loses his travel documents and needs a replacement.
3. Staying healthy
You know what works for your child best, most likely more than your child does. Prepare a list of medicine names and allergies so your boy does not fumble at the pharmacist should he need something there. Remember to research and write down details of the neighborhood clinics and local hospitals.
Have you looked into international health insurance plans for him? It may be good to have if you can afford it.
If he cooks, you can also pen down (or even make videos of) recipes of family dishes. It’s definitely healthier than having take-outs all the time.
4. Staying connected
With today’s technology, staying in close contact with a child thousands of miles away is easy.
Other than having your boy next to you in person, what’s more comforting than being able to see and hear him – clearly and instantaneously.
If you’re technology savvy, then you’re in luck. From Facebook video chats to Whatsapp video calls, the options are endless. If all those sounds unfamiliar to you, don’t worry, they’re very easy to pick up!
Having said that, due to time-zone differences, social and school commitments, it’ll be good to establish a comfortable call schedule beforehand so you’ll not be too much of a distraction!