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5 Tips for Students Before they Study Abroad

Ross Jennings with GRCC students from different countries.

By Ross Jennings, Associate Vice President of International Programs

Your student is ready to study abroad. Both students and parents are so excited. Now that they’ve chosen their school, they’re a little nervous. “What can we do”, they ask you, “to best prepare our child for study abroad?” Here are five things to do before leaving home:

  1. Research your major and future job - No student really knows what he or she will do in the future, but now is a good time to give it some thought. Talk to local people who studied abroad in your major and get their advice. What did they do both in and out of school?
  2. Contact your school - Get to know your college advisor and ask him or her how to prepare for your first term at Green River. Parents can ask questions too, in their own language if they don’t know English – schools can get staff or students to translate. You can also ask the college to connect you to a student from your country and ask him or her questions too.
  3. Check out universities - Now is the time to research and dream. Look at rankings but don’t obsess about them. Get a feel for the kind of university you would like to attend. Don’t just look at Harvard – there are a lot of other great universities in the US.
  4. Make a communication and money plan - Set up a Skype (or similar service) account and try it out. Agree to be in touch on a regular basis. Make a money plan too. Parents, if you’re thinking about buying your son or daughter something expensive, like a car, make them earn good grades first and give them the big item as a reward. No grades, no car!
  5. Expect culture shock - Almost every person faces difficulties in adjusting to a new country. It is called culture shock. Research it and have a plan for dealing with it when it comes. Here is the best culture shock medicine: be active, do things with friends and get exercise.

Ross Jennings received his bachelor's degree in History at University of California Santa Barbara, and earned master's degrees at Stanford, University of Washington and University of Oklahoma. He lived in the Middle East for 13 years, and has been at Green River for the last 15 years.