• India’s most comprehensive parenting portal, with excerpts from ParentEdge – India’s leading parenting magazine

Preparing for Life Abroad

I felt that I had taken too much stuff. I would suggest the bare essentials – a few clothes, books, and anything special related to your hobbies and interests.

- Shreyas Kumar Student at Harvey Mudd College, California

Campus orientation

Almost every college or university offers some sort of orientation for their incoming international students. Some colleges have a short orientation of two-three days, so that the student is not burdened with an information overload, while others have a week-long orientation to provide as much information as possible, so that students are not lost. Most schools schedule their orientation for international students a week before regular classes start for other students, so for the first week, international students are usually the only ones on campus. Here are some of the activities that are typical of such an orientation programme:

  • International student registrations – what documents you need to submit, forms to fill, a brief on the rules of the  country, etc.
  • Lectures with other international students to learn about what to expect from college, what courses are offered and some advice on how to choose, resources available to your child on campus, student health information, etc.
  • Spending time with other incoming international students, usually in a smaller group – fellow course mates/ classmates, dorm mates, etc.
  • Eating at the cafeteria – lunch rules, what is available where, timings etc.
  • Briefings by senior students about college life.
  • Details about extra-curricular activities like sports, cultural activities, and introductions by country-specific organisations, like the Indian Student Association.
  • Placement exams to help ensure that your child is placed in the right level of course work (usually held for language, and math).
  • Meetings with the academic advisor and registering for the semester courses.
  • Setting up and furnishing the dorm room.

My orientation programme was reasonably helpful — it gave me a feel for the new environment. There was also useful  information regarding the surrounding area (banks, phone etc) as well as college-specific protocols and resources.

- Shreyas Kumar

Many colleges have orientation courses for accompanying parents as well, and schedule a few joint activities for parent and child. Do attend these, as you will also get an idea of what is in store for your daughter over the next few years.


Culture shock

The world has truly shrunk today, thanks to the spread of the internet and mobile devices that make it possible for us to connect at any time to any part of the world. Information is so easily available that you think there is nothing that you do not know or are not prepared for. However, even though you have planned this for so long, the extent of the change and the effects it has on you may take you by surprise. If you find that you are confused by the effects of the change, it might be helpful to realise that your experience is not unusual — this is culture shock.


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