"It's hectic and difficult to plan in advance for things, and it makes communication with your family seem like a chore," says Radell, who talked to her family via Skype or BlackBerry messenger nearly every day. She admits this was more frequent than most of her peers.
"I was abroad with my boyfriend and some of his best friends, and they thought it was bizarre how often I spoke with my family," she says. "They would get in touch with [their family] maybe once a week."
Parents should be prepared for less frequent communication while their student is abroad, advises the IIEPassport parent resource guide. IIEPassport is website project of the Institute of International Education, a nonprofit that administers international exchanges such as the Fulbright program.
Part of that preparation is letting go, according to the site's "Top Ten Study Abroad Tips for Parents."
"Don't expect to hear from your child every day ... and don't make your student feel bad for that," the guide states. Unlike Radell, IIEPassport's guide tells parents to make a plan, but be flexible. "It's important to realize that this plan may need to be altered once your child has settled into a study abroad routine."
Whatever schedule or method you settle on—be it Skype, Facebook, phone calls, texting, or E-mails—don't overlook the power of the postal service.
Few things make students feel the love from home than a handwritten letter or thoughtful care package. Just don't forget to include their favorite cookies.
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