This time of transition is a very important one. Just like transition into high school, transition into college or university is an important time in an individual’s life. When a student chooses to leave home and migrate to another country for school, there is often even more anxiety and uncertainty.
So what is the best way to deal with this anxiety and uncertainty? Help your child to be prepared as best as possible. Never underestimate the importance of preparation. Although we cannot prepare for all the challenges they will likely face, if you have taken the time to make sure they have left with all the information they need, and that as much ground work as possible has been done in order to ensure a smooth transition, the rest is to be left to the powers that be.
In today’s age, the use of the internet makes it easy to get to know a place even before you get there. Encourage your child to spend time learning about the school, city and country that they are moving to. A school’s website is a great tool and offers a lot of information on student life. Important dates will be posted, as well as helpful hints on places to eat, things to see, important places on campus, school rules and so on.. School websites often offer links to international student associations that can help to make the transition for your child easier.
Online maps and the variety of navigation systems that are available on our devices are quite helpful and will allow your child to do things like find the closest bank, which is somewhere they will likely have to go soon after they arrive in order to set up their bank account. A quick call to the bank or check on their website, will outline the documents that will be required in order to open a bank account.
As the time draws closer, you are likely to book a ticket for your child, and if possible, one for you to accompany them to help them get settled. Choose your travelling time wisely. You want to ensure that you will have enough time to help your child get settled before orientation activities begin. Cutting out on orientation activities is not a good idea. This is an important time for new students to get to know other students, as well as the ins and outs of their chosen school. Many orientations are conducted by students themselves, and so they are well aware of the information that new students are hoping to learn about.
If you are not familiar with the school or area, you will want to book a hotel relatively close to campus, as often online it is easier to find great deals for hotels and then when you get to the city you find that you are so far away from campus that you are spending just as much on transportation as if you had stayed walking distance from campus. If your child is staying on campus in a dorm room, it would be a good idea to help them get settled, while still being a stone’s throw away. If they are nervous about being away from home, this allows them to get to know their dorm mates and start university life, knowing that they will see mom or dad in the next day.
Take the time to walk around the area with your child so that they get acclimatized to what is around. Many university campuses have just about everything that your child could need within walking distance. However, it will take them some time to find out everything that is around and to ensure that they can find their way on their own.
If they will need to take public transportation to get to school or anywhere else, it is a good idea to find out how the system works with them, and take a few trips around. Take the opportunity to do some sightseeing so that your child has an idea of the place that they are likely to live in for the next few years.
If your child is not staying on campus with a meal plan, help them locate the nearest grocery stores and other specialty stores that may have the items they need in order to be able to cook and take care of themselves. University campuses are often equipped or are in close access to a lot of unhealthy food options. The term freshman 15 is one that is often heard and refers to the 15 pounds many freshmen put on in their first year. This is often due to the buffet type eating at a lot of university cafeterias and the unhealthy food options around. Take the time to help your child or remind them to find healthier options, so that they don’t fall into the trap of unhealthy eating.
In keeping with health, you’ll want to make sure that your child’s health insurance is sorted out. Most universities require international students to take a mandatory health insurance plan. They also have clinics on campus that are for student use. Be sure that they have all the necessary paper work and that they know clearly what is to occur if they are not feeling well. For students heading to cities where they will experience winter, this is something that they will want to know for sure in case they develop an unbearable cold. New York and London weather are very different in July and in January!
Encourage your child to find out where the athletic facilities are on campus. This may be part of their orientation, but regardless, it will be a good idea to encourage them to take out a gym membership or make some kind of fitness commitment. It’s very easy to leave out fitness when juggling everyday university life. However, it is an important piece in the puzzle of success.
This is often as much a time of transition for parents as it is for students. Many schools offer a parent orientation during the orientation week in order to share important information about the school as well as answer any questions that parents have. If you are able to accompany your child, it’s a good idea to attend these events; they will likely make you feel better about leaving your child.
At the end of the day, this is a time for you to be there for your child, either physically or emotionally. Give them guidance in the first few days, and as they settle in, remind them that you will be there for them if they need you, and that you have raised them to be a responsible adult and it is now up to them step up to the plate. Encourage them to become involved in activities around campus, as this will help them to meet people and diversify themselves. Remind them that although building social relationships is an important thing that they should never lose sight of their academic goals and that they will need to make choices to help them achieve those goals.