Guidelines for Parents & Guardians
In study abroad, as in other settings, parents, guardians, and families can play an important role in the health and safety of participants by helping them make decisions and by influencing their behavior overseas. Here are a few suggestions of things you can do to help your child prepare for their time out of the country:
- Obtain and carefully evaluate health and safety information related to the program, as provided by University of Notre Dame, the Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of State, and other sources.
- Be involved in the decision of the participant to enroll in a particular program.
- Engage the participant in a thorough discussion of safety and behavior issues, insurance needs, and emergency procedures related to living abroad.
- Keep in touch with the participant and encourage him/her to do the same (via email, phone or letters) Make arrangements for how you will contact each other. Given the cost of telephoning, it might be best to set up a regular schedule for e-mailing rather than telephoning. In addition, you may want to contact your long-distance service provider to arrange for a calling card or find out the best way to call collect from your child's destination country.
- Plan together how you will handle any family emergency that may arise while your child is away.
- Help organize your child's finances. Detailed information concerning financial arrangements is provided in the student handbooks which are passed out during orientation sessions. Depending on the program location, some monetary instruments are preferable. It’s advisable to talk with someone at your bank about how (or if) its ATM card will work and what extra fees there might be. Setting up a personal credit card with cash advances, or buying traveler's checks might also make sense. Make arrangements to pay your child's monthly bills and to file his or her income taxes.
- Make arrangements to take care of your child's health care needs. Set up an appointment for a general physical exam, dental checkup, and, for females, a gynecological checkup. If your child wears glasses or contacts, be sure he or she has a typed copy of the prescription. Ask your child to talk to the family doctor about the best way to handle any routine prescription medications. Make sure your child takes a complete medical record.
- Make sure your child has insurance for any valuables taken on the trip, such as a laptop computer, camera, or video recorder. Advise your child not to take things that aren't replaceable like family jewelry.
- Make sure your child's passport and any required visas are in order.
- Help with travel planning. Check out travel costs or book flights. Find out international regulations on the type and size of luggage that can be carried. Help pack lightly and avoid taking anything unnecessary.