Did you attend the parents’ orientation? Was it useful? In what way?
As parents, we had innumerable worries and questions ourselves and could only look to the university to help us out with our concerns. The parent orientation was something we prioritised on going to, and a good thing, too, as they very patiently took us on a well-guided tour of the university and answered all questions that we had. We made some friends and acquaintances that were as anxious as we were and were comforted by the general empathy and knowledge that other parents from all over the world had the same fears as we did. Some of those parents we met have now become good friends and our children travel back home together and look out for each other while at university. The parent orientation also helped us understand how the system works, what we should expect in terms of academics, the availability of food choices for vegetarians and then also gave us a general reassurance in terms of medical facilities and emergencies.
How did you keep in touch with your child?
Technology truly overrules so many dimensions, it is almost unbelievable! Keeping in touch with my child is so easy over emails, Skype calls, phone calls that have preset plans to allow you to call international inexpensively, and applications like Kik, BBM and Whatsapp. They let us be a part of her daily life to the extent that when she’s complaining about her dinner and playing the spoiled brat, she would send us a picture instantly of how terrible the food can sometimes be! We speak to her every day, Whatsapp all day, Skype once or twice a week and use emails for serious discussions like internship news, applications, payments etc.
How did you help her deal with situations since you were not physically there? Culture shock, homesickness, dealing with a new educational system?
Skype calls answer most of our worries because having a face-to-face conversation can be a blessing. Something we haven’t been able to input much on has been the educational system itself — but that is something the child figures out on his/her own and the university themselves always make sure that plenty of help in the form of tutors, emails and so on are always available. Something we don’t realise is that the atmosphere in universities abroad is actually much more open and accepting than we remember it and children make friends and support groups very easily. It is almost hard to feel lonely with the atmosphere that has developed now from what I hear.