How can you be involved?
Parents can be involved with the international experience in so many ways!
First, discuss all of the options for their time abroad with students. Discuss locations and different types of experiences. A student may think that the faculty lead program is best because they have had friends who have participated or who will go with them, but a longer more independent program may be better for their future. Discuss the options with your student and encourage them to come and see one of our study abroad advisors. We can also help connect your students to one of our JBIP Ambassadors, who will share his/her experience. Hearing from another student may help make the decision clearer.
Secondly, support your son or daughter while making the important decision of what program to choose, preparing for the time abroad, while abroad, and then when he/she returns. International travel will be the experience of a lifetime, but it can be stressful and confusing as well. Once your students selects a program you can help them prepare by purchasing books, watching movies about the location, finding a local restaurant to try the cuisine, or looking into the cultural resources close to you. Help your son or daughter with a packing list, getting things ready for their international travel, and the final arrangements that need to be made, such as changing money, keeping a copy of his/her passport at home, and calling credit card companies to alert them to overseas use.
When your student travels abroad there will be a significant amount of culture shock and disorientation. Remember that the first panicked phone call may be from a jet lagged student who is experiencing a new culture for the first time. Students often go up and down with culture shock, from a state of infatuation with a culture to a state of discontent and homesickness. This is all normal and is a journey that your son or daughter will appreciate for the rest of their lives. Listen to his/her problems and provide a safe, friendly place to talk, but make sure that the culture shock doesn't ruin the trip, help students go from culture shock to culture shift. Culture shift is when students can see their home culture and their host culture and compare them, not that one is better or worse, but that the both exist differently. These differences are ultimately what makes the world go round!
Support your son/ daughter when he/she returns home. Many students go through reverse culture shock upon return to the US. Help him/her through the process by engaging in their journey. Help them tell their story through photos, memory books, international dinners, and family gatherings. You may not be able to understand what it is like to ride an elephant in India, but you can relish in the joy that it brought you student!