Staying in Touch
In many parts of the world, students are able to use their existing cell phones while participating on education abroad programs. Prior to departure, your student should research the extent of cell coverage available and any additional charges that may apply. Options include using the cell phone in “roaming” mode, unlocking and swapping out the SIM card in the cell phone, using Wi-Fi, and/or purchasing or renting a satellite phone. Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook, Viber, and other applications and tools may also be viable options for staying in touch with your student abroad.
Prior to departure, have a discussion and make a plan with your student on how frequently and in what way you expect to contact each other.
Participating in an education abroad program can be life changing and exciting, but it can also be stressful and challenging at times. If you student contacts you from abroad and is upset or unhappy, it may worry you, as you feel relatively powerless to help them. To assist your student in navigating challenges, encourage your student to rely on the resources and support network available, both at home and abroad. Questions, concerns, and problems can be addressed more quickly if the student goes directly to on-site staff. Remind your student that s/he is not alone and not to be ashamed to ask for help when it is needed. Students can experience unparalleled personal growth when challenged abroad, especially when the right level of support is leveraged. A little pep talk from a family member can go a long way in helping a student remember the value of pursuing an education abroad experience and why it is worth the extra effort to persevere.