It’s become a common story nowadays to hear of your friend’s or your neighbour’s or your relative’s children going to study abroad, far from home. The commonality of it does nothing to take away from the challenge that moving away from family and friends into an altogether new environment which will judge you much more harshly than you ever were in your home country. For all the opportunities that it provides, it also has a number of hurdles for your kids to overcome. Beyond the question of finances, these children will also have to fend for yourself in a place world’s away from home, without emotional support until you make friends – and making good friends, the right kind of friends, trustworthy ones is an art and a task in itself (one more difficult for introverts).
To that end, we have this list of tips to help you as you plan to send your child abroad for an international education:
Study & Research
Before your child makes the leap from India to any country, make a thorough study of the course he or she plans to do and its scope so that you can guide him in the right day and you can make an informed decision. Also take care to research the country he plans to go to, its culture, its lifestyle so that they can have an easier time of settling there and aren’t hit by a massive culture shock or are overwhelmed by it all.
Stay in Touch
This is especially important in the first couple of months when your child or ward is settling in a foreign land. Until they make friends or involve themselves in clubs, projects and groups to take their mind off the vast loneliness of being alone in a new country, you should make conscious efforts to stay in touch with them. Sometimes the children may even rebel at it, but it is essential that they know and are told that you are there for them in spirit, even if you cannot be there physically and give them a supportive hug or offer a crying shoulder.
With apps such as Facebook and Whatsapp offering free calling and Skype for face to face conversations, this is easier than ever before. Becoming social media savvy is a good way to begin. After all, it’s almost a necessity in this digital age.
Budgeting, Finances & Scholarships
Studying overseas is not cheap, and even if you have managed all your finances currently and set up a proper budget for everything from lodging to food to tuition fees, in the end it is still a vast amount. To offset this amount, make sure to research all the avenues of funding available such as scholarships, teaching assistantships and research assistantships. If all of this is done properly, the cost of your course may reduce by as much as 50 percent! Of course, there is an element of luck involved, but you should still try your best, after all, every little it helps.
Make the Children Self-Sufficient
Make sure your children know how to cook some basic food. Perhaps not a seven course meal, but at least a simple meal, since spending outside will be a massive burden on the wallet, as well as an expensive and unhealthy ordeal. Make sure they know all the basics of managing their life and living on their own.
Safety Measures & Health Habits
When at home children know that if they ever have fever or suffer from health problems, mother will always be there to take care of them. Outside, they are alone – barring roommates – and healthcare is considerably expensive. So make sure your children know how to keep themselves in the best shape so that they can enjoy the educational and cultural experience to the fullest. Bad health habits can mar their experience and make them resentful and even morose, both of which are to be avoided at all costs.
Inculcate good health habits – from eating to exercise in them.
Beyond that, make sure to have a health insurance and medical plan for them as a precaution. You won’t be there to watch their back once they leave, and in case of emergencies these things done as precaution may turn out to be godsend! Always remember, safety first.
Teach them the art of frugal living, or living on a budget so that they do not end up spending recklessly and ending up in unnecessary debt. The crippling pressure of debt can change a person’s outlook on life, and beginning professional life under such tremendous pressure is inadvisable.
Make sure they know that they are going there to study, to network, to learn, and make a better future for themselves. Most think of foreign nightlife, enjoyment, thrilling experiences, not realizing that all of it comes at a cost, a cost which is not always bearable on a student budget. The focus should be on advancing their career, their network, but it is also important that they enjoy themselves while they are at it and involves themselves in extra-curricular activities. Prompt them to explore the city, meet new people, imbibe in the culture, travel, and generally make the best of the experience.
Let them grow wings and fly…with a healthy dose of caution, of course.