Once your son or daughter is in Dublin, s/he may experience some typical adjustment problems or culture shock. All students regardless of their previous travel experience, maturity level, or preparedness may suffer some degree of culture shock. During the early days or weeks of their semester in Dublin, your student may experience periods of frustration, anxiety, and even depression. This is a very common reaction that you should anticipate. Keep in mind, that your student is more likely to call or e-mail during these low moments than when things are going well. This may result in the family having a more negative impression of the situation than actually exists.
We encourage you to communicate with your student and provide support when needed, but also anticipate these moments and understand them as part of the normal acclimation process. For more information on "Pointers for Parents," we recommend a great article by CIEE, a leading US non-governmental international education organization.
- Before applying, have a serious discussion with your son or daughter about both their academic motivations for participating in this program and their personal preparedness for living abroad.
- Have an honest conversation about the types of expenses your child anticipates. How much traveling would they like to do? How much financial assistance are you willing to provide for those types of "extras?" Also have clear plan on how your student will access money for everyday finances and emergencies.
- Contact your bank and credit card companies to let them know your child will be living abroad. You may consider getting ATM limits raised if your child will be using the ATM as their main source for money.
- Ensure that your student applies for a passport AT LEAST 3 months before the date of their departure.
- Review the Pre-departure Checklist we have provided your child.
- Read this website thoroughly so you understand the program well.
- Ensure that your son or daughter has comprehensive health coverage and has a general physical and dental exam before leaving for Dublin. Also be sure your child has copies of any prescriptions they may be taking before they depart.
- Buy your student a great guidebook to both Dublin & Ireland.
- Don't get involved in resolving roommate, social or grading issues. Your student will only learn self-confidence and responsibility if they resolve these issues on their own.
- Keep emergency contact numbers for your child, the UCD study abroad office, and the ILR/UCD Semester in Dublin office. You should also keep a copy of your student's passport in the event it is lost or stolen.
- Encourage your child to pack lightly! Make them carry their luggage, carry-ons, laptop & purse around the block or up two flights of stairs. If it's too heavy…unpack a few items! Also, research your airlines luggage weight restrictions. Don’t be surprised at the airport by expensive over-weight luggage charges. Most students need half the clothes and twice the money!
- Help your child make travel arrangements. The cheapest ticket may not always be the best. Be sure to look at lay-over times and the number and timing of connecting flights. International travel is tiring enough without numerous connections and long layovers.
- Let your student take responsibility for paperwork, deadlines, and orientations associated with studying abroad. This helps them develop a sense of independence and responsibility. If you child has difficulty meeting deadlines or keeping track of paperwork, they may not be mature enough to participate in this program.
- Give them space! Most students who study abroad experience varying levels of homesickness and cultural adjustment. You should expect this and support them during these times, but give them the opportunity to work through these difficulties. Your student cannot fully immerse themselves in their new environment if they are constantly on the phone with you!
- Remind them that they are guests in Ireland and they should be respectful of their hosts at all times!