Your child has decided to intern abroad and now you have hundreds of questions about what that means and how you can help your child prepare for this experience. The best thing you can do is support him or her on this journey, and we are here to help you do that. Below are five tips to get you and the intern through this exciting and new challenge.
Keeping in touch with your child is abroad is important for both of you and is easily done with today’s technology. Your child will be busy exploring their host and working full-time at an internship, so don’t expect to hear from them everyday. We encourage our participants to set up a blog so that way they can write about their experiences and easily share with it friends and family There are also tons of free online and phone apps for communication abroad including Skype, Viber and, Whatsapp.
2. Educate yourself
If you’re nervous about your child’s host country, do some research about the city and local customs to ease your doubts. Knowing about the local laws, customs, and economy will make you feel more secure. You should also do research into the industry that your child is interested in to familiarize yourself with the type of tasks that he or she may be doing within their internship. Of course, you should do your research on the program provider and read over the website and any program literature available to participants.
3. Staying healthy
Staying healthy while abroad is much more than just eating right. Remind your child to research the local cuisine and be aware of dietary restrictions that may be difficult to navigate in certain countries (i.e., Celiac disease in Italy). Remind your child to stay physically active, especially if this is his or her first full-time job, by jogging in local parks or finding a local gym (some of the student accommodations have them). Most importantly, support your child’s mental health by being cognizant of the signs of culture shock and reminding him or her of the importance of building a strong social network of friends.
Your child’s safety is your and our biggest concern. Speak with your child about ways to stay safe in a different country like traveling in groups, avoiding political demonstrations, and protecting valuables. Make sure that you have all of your child’s contact information and that he or she has the information of our in-country location coordinators. Ultimately, your child will be in control of his or her own safety so emphasize how important it is that they be responsible and smart while abroad.
5. Letting go
One of the hardest parts of being a parent of a child who is going abroad is letting go. Independence and confidence are just two of the great traits that interns gain while abroad and those can be difficult to achieve by having constant supervision by a parent. Be there to support your child, but not a supervisor. Global Experiences provides our participants with all the resources they need to be successful within their internship and abroad, but as a parent they need to know that you support their decisions.
What other questions or concerns do you have about international internships? Share your questions or experiences in the comments below.