Preparing your Teen to Live & Study Abroad

Why your child should study abroad & learn a new language

By allowing your child to participate in a language immersion program abroad, not only are you broadening your child’s social and cultural horizons, but you are also opening the doors of many new and exciting opportunities. It is much more beneficial for teenagers to live and study abroad than to simply learn a new language in a classroom. They will learn about new ways of thinking, acting and living, which will lead to their own personal development of humor, curiosity, adventure and even patience. In just a short time, students learn how to adjust and adapt to a new environment, which is great for their personal growth and it gives them a better understanding of how life is in other parts of the world.

It is important that you, as a parent or guardian, explain to your child that they should enter this program with an open mind about lifestyles and habits. For example, participating in soccer instead of football, be willing to try new foods, eating dinner later in the evening (8pm), and accepting that meal portions are usually smaller in Europe than in North America. Encourage them to give in to their adventurous side and explain to them the many benefits of studying abroad. Tell your children how much fun they are going to have and how much they will learn in just a short time so that they accept everything that is thrown their way and have the absolute best time of their lives!

Preparing for the trip

Be sure that you prepare your child well in advance for their trip!

First off, if your child has never been on an airplane before, we suggest that you take him/her to your local airport at some date prior to departure. The purpose of this is to ease your child’s fears or confusion by familiarizing them with the large and busy airport.

Also, it is a great idea to make a family project our of learning more about the city/country of your child’s program. It generally helps if the student reads books, watches films and practices the language a bit before traveling. Talk to your child about concerns that he/she may have and help prepare questions to ask the campus staff upon arrival.

Moreover, talk to your child about the unfamiliar environment they are about to be thrown into. Explain to them that there will be new sounds, food and sights, as well as people who will be speaking a language that the children won’t fully understand. To handle all of this they need to have a positive attitude and self-confidence. Find out from your child what he/she wants to gain from the program, such as making new friends, learning a new language, etc...

You should also have a plan for your child if things go wrong, such as missing a flight, arriving late, getting lost in the city, feeling homesick/scared, etc… You should also make your child aware of our rules and curfews, as well as the consequences if they disobey them.

Making reservations & purchasing airline tickets

Students and/or their parents/guardians are solely responsible for making all travel arrangements (airline tickets, visas & passports). We strongly recommend that you book direct flights to the airport nearest to the program’s location. If direct flights are not available, please book the least amount of connections as possible. This makes traveling for your child must simpler and leaves less room for missed flights, delays and other problems to occur.

Here is an example of an airline policies for minors.

Packing tips

We recommend that you allow your child to pack their bags by themselves. You can make a list or offer some suggestions (comfortable shoes, clothes, entertainment, etc…), but ultimately they should be responsible for what’s in their luggage.

A general packing guide follows directly. You can print it and give it to your child as a packing checklist.

Pre-departure suggestions:
• Be sure to confirm flight times and tickets
• Confirm that all passports and visas are up-to-date
• Go to the dentist and doctor
• Have all vaccinations and bring certification
• Check travel insurance policy
• Pack Student ID 
• Learn to use prepaid phone cards

Personal packing tips:
• All travel tickets (airline, train, bus, ferry, etc…)
• Map & timetables
• Address book
• Passport, visas, cash, etc…
• Credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, etc…)
• Driver’s license (if applicable)
• Travel journal
• Phone cards
• Phrase books & guide books
• Book to read while traveling

Clothes/Accessories/Personal items – Boys:
• Toiletries 
• Mirror
• Toothbrush & toothpaste
• Soap & shampoo
• Sun protection
• Contact lenses/lens cleaning liquid & extra pair of glasses
• Lip balm
• Sun glasses
• Small first aid kit
• Medication (motion sickness pills, fever/allergy pills, malaria tablets)
• Hat
• Light raincoat & umbrella
• Bathing suit
• Sweater & jacket
• Shirts & t-shirts
• Shorts & pants
• Socks, shoes/boots, & flip-flops
• Cotton underwear
• Long underwear

Clothes/Accessories/Personal items – Girls:
• Toiletries
• Mirror
• Toothbrush & toothpaste
• Soap & shampoo
• Sun protection
• Contact lenses/lens cleaning liquid & extra pair of glasses
• Lip balm
• Sun glasses
• Small first aid kit
• Medication (motion sickness pills, fever/allergy pills, malaria tablets)
• Hat
• Light raincoat & umbrella
• Bathing suit
• Sweater & jacket
• Shirts & t-shirts
• Skirts 
• Shorts & pants
• Socks, shoes/boots, & flip-flops
• Cotton underwear/bra

General things to pack:
• Backpack 
• Plastic bags
• Padlocks (several of them)
• Earplugs
• Towels
• Camera 
• Electrical adapter
• Alarm clock
• Hair dryer

Return to Top

At the airport - departing

Young persons traveling alone can have a safe, yet exciting, experience; however, it is important that your child be prepared for difficult situations that they may encounter. To keep your child entertained during his/her travels, be sure that they have enough reading materials, video games, snacks and music to last them through the duration of the trip to their destination.

Safety: Give your child strict and clear instructions that they are to never leave the airport or airplane with another passenger nor alone. They should ask the personnel of their airline for any assistance they may need. At check in, there will be forms that need to be completed. You must provide your child’s flight itinerary and state any special needs he/she may have. Also, phone numbers for your child’s contact at the airports of arrival and departure must be given. Lastly, make a note of the child’s luggage claim tags and teach your child how to find their bag after they land.

If your child wishes to carry luggage onto the plane, it should contain the school’s name and address. Make it clear to your child that they are responsible for items in this bag. If they notice something is missing or added to the bag, they should immediately notify the airline personnel. Baggage should never be left unattended and packages should never be accepted from strangers.

Below is a short checklist to go over with your child:
• How to deal with airport delays
• Ensure baggage is properly checked in & tagged
• Expectations upon arrival in a new country & customs
• How to equalize ear pressure (yawning, swallowing, chewing, etc…)
• How to collect luggage upon arrival
• Have a plan incase child gets lost
• Introduce the gate agent and your child (let him/her know your child is traveling alone and may need assistance)

Important: Please do not leave the airport until after your child’s plane has departed. You can see this information on many of the departure/arrival board conveniently found throughout the airport.

Return to Top

At the airport – arriving

Upon arrival, your child will have to go through customs alone, but then a representative from our school will be waiting to greet your child in the arrival hall. Our representative will ensure that your child makes it safely to their host family or to our school campus. If you do not provide us with your child’s travel information, we will not be there to pick him/her up and he/she will need to find their way to our campus independently using public transportation or taxi services.

The day that students arrive at their accommodations, they will have the day to relax, unpack, recover from jetlag, and get to know their new roommates, host family and general surroundings. In your pre-departure packet, there is more information and details about the day your child arrives at our school.

General questions and answers

Q: What level of language skills are required to participate in a program?
A: We offer language courses to all levels from complete beginners to advanced speakers.

Q: How long does the program last and when does it start?
A: Start dates for our summer programs vary based on location. As for duration, students can choose to study for 1 to 8 weeks. The average duration of a program is 3 weeks.

Q: How many students are in each class?
A: Classes usually range from 8 to 15 students, but this depends on the program’s location.

Q: What should be expected during class hours and how exactly will the language be taught?
A: Our philosophy to teaching is to be creative and communicative, instead of being repetitive and having a daily routine. We place emphasis in each class on correct pronunciation and intonation. Students learn to speak through role-play, grammar games and videos, which supplement the courses content. We feel that materials that cover social and cultural aspects of a country add interest and increase the students’ knowledge.

Q: How long is each lesson?
A: Lessons generally lasts between 45 and 50 minutes.

Q: Do students receive any type of certificate at the end of the program?
A: Yes. The majority of our programs offer a "Certificate of Proficiency" upon completion.

Q: How are the host families chosen? 
A: In order to qualify to be a host family, families must first meet our requirements. For example, families are required to live a reasonable distance away from the school, have a clean home with enough space to house a student, and they must be able to provide a safe and comfortable environment for students. Students are then paired with the best possible matching host family. We base this pairing on personal information that you provide to us. Therefore, the more details about your child you provide on the enrollment form, the better the match of host family.

Q: What should be expected when staying with a host family?
A: Firstly, students must obey all house rules when staying with a host family. Families will treat students as they would any other guest staying with them. Students will be given either a private or shared room and have access to all of the house’s living areas. Meals will also be provided by the host family.

The experience of living with a host family is the most effective way of becoming fully immersed into a new culture and language. Students will have opportunities everyday to have conversations with native speakers of their target language. It is important that students keep in mind while living with a host family that the family may have different habits and traditions and students should be willing to accept and adapt to the family’s way of life.

It is important to note that all of our host families live within approximately 45 minutes or less from the school.

Q: Do students need to bring bed linens and towels with them?
A: Towels are not provided by host families nor in the dorms; however, students will be given bed linens and pillows.

Q: Which day must students leave their accommodation?
A: Students will have until 12:00pm(noon) on the Saturday after their last course to vacate their accommodation.

Q: If students need to stay an additional night or two at their accommodation, can extra nights be booked?
A: Yes, we offer the possibility to stay a few nights before or after the course at the accommodations at an additional charge.

Q: What is there for students to do outside of the classroom?
A: There will be plenty of time for students to discover their host country, culture and customs after classes are finished. We offer many cultural and social activities that students are required to take part in. These activities are designed for students to have fun, learn more about the host country’s culture, practice their newly acquired language skills and to make new friends! Activities are supervised or monitored by one of our school’s teachers of staff members.

Many of the offered activities are free of charge; however some do require students to pay an additional fee in order to participate. Examples of activities that cost extra could be going to a museum, local art gallery, theater, sporting events, etc… If students wish to do sightseeing tours on their own, our school staff will be happy to assist students in finding the perfect route around town.

Q: Do the students often hang out after class?
A: Of course they do! Hanging out with new international friends is one of the key benefits to a study abroad program. It is very common for students to quickly find friends and build strong relationships with them outside of the classroom. Groups of students have lots of fun sightseeing together, participating in excursions, or just hanging out and relaxing!

Q: Which countries are represented by the students of a Teenager Abroad program?
A: Students come from all around the world to participate in one of our excellent programs! Of course, nationalities vary based on the program’s location, but most of our students are from North America and Europe. We also have students from Latin America, Asia and Russia.

Q: Do any programs offer weekend excursions or trips to places of interest?
A: Absolutely! Our weekend excursions and activities are usually optional and require an additional fee (usually $30 - $70). This fee is used to cover the costs of transportation, food, and entrance fees. Depending on the location, it may also be possible for students to arrange their own weekend activities. In any case, our school staff is always willing to offer any help or advice that may be needed.

Return to Parent Zone