Parents and Guardians
Congratulations to your student for deciding to study away! As a parent or guardian of a student interested in studying away, you will likely have as many questions as they do. There are many steps necessary to plan and participate in a study away program. We believe that our students need to take charge of planning and implementing their study in a foreign country with tasks that include picking and applying to a program, getting a passport and visa, understanding how to get course credit, and enrolling in courses abroad. However, the staff in Global Learning are here to advise and guide them through the entire process.
Please feel free to search our website for information about the various programs we offer, read the frequently asked questions, and get tips for how you can support your student through the study away process.
Will my student be safe during their program?
Do I need to purchase travel insurance for my student?
Your support is essential to your student’s positive study away experience. Without it students can feel dejected with a lack of support system or guilt from leaving other family members and friends behind. It can be difficult to let your student go, but letting them know you are behind them will make it easier on them and your relationship while they’re away. One way is getting to know the host country and culture. It shows your student that you share an interest in what they will be doing and will be able to relate to their stories when they talk about the local sights, food, and overall experience. It can also help you avoid unnecessary stress. By knowing the general geography, you may be able to recognize that an unfortunate event you heard on the news is several hours away from your student’s location and that they won't be impacted.
2. Be Hands-Off
Studying away is a tremendously rewarding experience, but it does not come without its challenges. When your student goes on their program they will need to be responsible, adaptable, and self-motivated. They will need to manage their time wisely, be able to adjust to their surroundings, and do the legwork to find answers to their questions. We expect to see the same qualities when students apply to their program. The application process is not as demanding as their away experience, but it's a good judge of how students will fare when similar demands arise at their away program.
We highly encourage supporting your student through the process but discourage you from doing the work for them. The more time and effort the student puts into their program, the more invested they will be. The more invested, the easier they will see benefits from their hard work. By allowing them to take their own initiative (and possibly make some mistakes) during the application process, they will be more prepared for the expectations they will face when they are away.
Similarly, although Global Learning is happy to speak with the parents and guardians of Concordia's study-away students, we expect all inquiries to be initiated by the students first. By having your student ask these questions during the application process, they will remember it more clearly if they gather the information compared to if they're told second-hand. It also makes it clear that others will not do the work for them. They must be proactive on their own.
3. Be Patient
Be aware that coming home can be bittersweet. Especially for long-term programs; students have built up a new friend base, learned a new city and culture, and created a niche for themselves. In many ways, returnees can feel like they've left a second home. On top of that, students may have some trouble getting used to how things have or haven't changed since they left. They may feel pressured to return to their previous roles but feel that they don't fit or have out-grown them. This is not necessarily good or bad, and should not reflect negatively on you, the student, or the away program. We all change over the course of our lives and make adjustments. It just takes time.
Students will not always be able to articulate how they're feeling clearly and may feel that no one can relate to them. Frustration is a common result. Telling a simple story may take ages because of complex cultural ideologies or subtle meanings. Take the time, or make time, for them to fully express themselves. Encouraging open communication without judgment is the first step.
There will be plenty of catching up to do, but it may be difficult to listen to the never-ending stories and be expected to go through hundreds of photographs individually. Here are some ways you can encourage your student to share their experiences without it being overwhelming:
1. Organize a gathering with family and friends shortly after their return. The student can prepare a slideshow with the most important pictures, answer people's questions, tell stories, and start to feel reintegrated with the people closest to them.
2. Have them find recipes and prepare their favorite foods from their host location.
3. Encourage them to find others with similar experiences and/or people who could benefit from their knowledge. This will give them an alternative outlet to express themselves and reflect on their experiences. Tutoring someone in language or meeting with students interested in studying on that particular program in the future can be a win-win situation for everyone.