4 steps to help prepare your child to study abroad

Preparing to send a child abroad for studies can be a stressful and emotional experience. We’ve prepared a quick checklist to help you and your child make the transition as smoothly as possible.

Your child is ready to leave the nest to study abroad. This is the moment you’ve been preparing for, probably since they were a baby. It’s exciting and nerve-wracking for both of you, and understandably so. You are releasing your child into the unknown to spread their wings, and hopefully fly back with a degree.

Studying abroad can be an exciting and life-changing experience for your child, but as a parent, you may be feeling anxious about the challenges that come with it. From navigating a new culture to learning to be independent, preparing for your child to study abroad can be overwhelming. With the right tools, support, and mindset, you can make the most of this unique opportunity and help your child thrive.

You’ve got the visa ready, and you have prepared the money for the fees. All the winter clothes and local treats are packed. But wait. There are some things that we should also take into consideration. Here’s a checklist to help you and your child prepare for the next step in their journey.

  1. Adapting: Culture shock can be detrimental to your child’s learning experience. Besides researching the chosen university, it’s a good idea to take the time to learn about the destination country, customs and sensitivities, language, and local laws. Your child can go through travel guides, watch YouTube travel videos, and if a third language is involved, use a language app like DuoLingo to pick up a few handy phrases. Even if “everyone speaks English”, dropping a few phrases in the local language will help your child assimilate and make new friends.

    Your child may be homesick during the first few months in a completely new environment. They will probably phone home a lot during this time. Be there to assure them, but also help them understand that it’s an adjustment period and it’s perfectly normal to feel lonely or anxious as they settle in. Listen carefully to pick up on signs of depression and advise them to seek help as soon as you spot them. Once they find their rhythm and a regular group of friends to hang out with, or maybe even start dating, you’ll be worried that they aren’t calling home enough!

    Malaysians tend to gravitate towards other Malaysians wherever we go. We’re cheerful, loud, and easy to spot. While it is okay to stick to Malaysian groups for familiarity, it’s a more enriching experience to also make friends from multiple cultural backgrounds. Encourage your child to broaden their horizons by joining group activities related to their hobbies or picking up a sport. After all, isn’t that the advantage of studying abroad?

  2. Communication: Maintaining frequent communication is essential for staying connected with your child while they are studying abroad. Encourage your child to stay in touch and share their experiences and be prepared to adjust your communication channels to accommodate the time difference. Use technology to your advantage by using video chat, social media, and instant messaging to stay connected. Remember to give them a little leeway as well. Sometimes, when they are having fun or are busy with projects, they might forget to ring.

    It is also advisable to establish an emergency contact method, such as an SOS text or email. If your child is traveling off grid during their breaks to go camping or hiking, make sure they inform you where they are going and how long they are expected to be gone.

  3. Everyday finances: Studying abroad can be expensive, so it's important to develop a financial plan before your child leaves. You can also explore options for financial support such as scholarships, loans, and grants.

    Study-related finances aside, there’s the everyday spending to consider. Help your child understand the costs associated with studying abroad and establish a budget. You can encourage them to take up part-time work during their holidays and breaks. Even if they don’t really need to work, this is an opportunity to establish good work ethics, time management, and social skills that they will need in the working world.

    A great way to keep track of spending is by using the RHB Multi Currency Visa Debit Card. Besides being widely accepted, the card also allows cash withdrawals from ATMs. It’s super flexible as well with 32 foreign currencies linked to the card. So, let’s say your child is studying in the UK and decides to travel around Europe, there’s no hassle of going to the currency changer and having to pay conversion fees. These features mean that the card will continue to be handy, even after graduation.

    You and your child can monitor their spending on the card via the RHB Mobile Banking app, but please remember to monitor sparingly to respect their privacy and autonomy. Your child is an adult! Yes, we tend to forget that sometimes.

  4. Letting go: This is probably the most difficult part of seeing your child grow up. “My baby!” is how we feel. It’s hard for us to keep an eye on them when they are so far away. As parents, we tend to want to protect our kids for as long as we can, but we also need to give them space to grow and mature – and that involves making mistakes and learning from them. Allow them to make their own decisions, even if you might not agree with them sometimes. You can express your views and give them the opportunity to express theirs. Your child is entering a world that is vastly different to the one we grew up in, so we should remember to reserve our judgement. We should always strive to create a safe space that they can turn to whenever they need us.

We hope that this brief checklist will help you and your child embark on their journey safe and sound. This is an exciting time, and your child will gain experiences they will treasure for a lifetime.

If you wish to discuss financial options related to preparing your child for a life abroad, your Relationship Manager will be happy to help.

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