|Live and Study Abroad • Hong Kong
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This section is written in the perspective of the Home Schools as they are sending out their students. Nevertheless, you may also refer to the reciprocal section for Host Schools in the section for students Coming to HK for ideas for Host Schools of students coming from HK.
First of all, I have to say it is the student's own responsibility to get him / herself well prepared before he / she leaves; unless they are not adult yet. It is the student's decision to go study abroad and he / she should be able to plan and prepare for it independently. Otherwise, you should not be given the freedom to make such a big decision in the first place.
Anyway, as schools and parents, we just want to make sure our students can enjoy their trip and become a better person. And we also know that students need someone to give them a hand sometimes so that they can go even further. This is why I appreciate home schools who had well-prepared their students before letting them coming to HK before. Some of them did a very good job by asking students to go through a week-long pre-departure orientation, starting from knowing the history and facts of HK to basic survival language training; and at the end students are all supposed to pass a test which asked them about things they had learned about HK.
Other schools I had worked with simply did not do anything. They sent their students' names to us and expected us to do everything. We had been working for quite many years together as partners yet they still did not know we were the office responsible for getting a student visa for their students for example. We had mentioned about it in our agreement, welcoming booklet, office's website, etc. I am not going to comment on their work. I believe you all already have one in your mind.
So what should be included in a Pre-Departure Orientation?
Information about the destination - Weather, electricity, communication, transportation, food, money, insurance, packing, health, etc.
Safety - Emergency contact and handling, insurance, personal conduct, things to avoid, etc.
General understanding - The language, culture, norms, daily life, economy, facts and figures, etc. Make sure they understand this. Make sure they won't hurt any local people's feeling and make a fool of themselves.
The host school - Curriculum, registration, class and program structure, examination, environment, facilities, hostels, international office, etc.
About your Students - Ask them to think about what exactly the culture is they are going to represent overseas; what do overseas people think about their culture, people and country generally?
Student sharing - The most effective way in passing through knowledge and idea to the student generation is using the mouths of returning students who have studied in the host country and / or school.
You should be able to find the content of all of the above topics from the host school. Some schools may not care about their departing students; but usually all schools are happy to have more new students and will provide enough information to perspective students.
Besides, you can also make use of services provided by some official or public organization at your place. For example, you may arrange a meeting between students and the official bodies of the host country, the embassy or education office. They will be very willing to help in most of the cases.
With parents getting more and more involved in students' school life, it is expected parents will have even more questions concerning a study abroad program when their children is going to join one. A study abroad program just intensifying the situation for at least two times; as their children will be even further away from them. Therefore, schools are also advised nowadays to provide information or a pre-departure orientation to parents.
Other than the information mentioned previously, parents should also be advised on the following:
You should support their children - Study abroad is a wonderful thing happens to your children. As long as the school is involved, they should feel comfortable and encourage their children to go out and explore. Instead of buying a plane ticket within 24 hours from departure and bring their kids home.
Keep copy of important documents - Copy of the children's passport, insurance policy, emergency contact, school and course information, etc.
Don't get worried if your children have not contacted you on the first few days - As long as you are confirmed by the airline companies that the flight is landed safety, try to stay positive even if you haven't heard from your children for one or two days. You can contact the international office or student hostel of the host school to make sure your children have arrived. They may have problem with their cellphone and Internet. After all, things can be different from expectation when you arrive to a new place. They may be as frustrated as you and can't wait any longer to hear your voice again. They just need more time to sort out the communication matter. Your children are not trying to run away from you.
Help your children as well as the schools - Learn about the host country and school, and tell them what you have found out to your children. Increase their knowledge and interest about the new place. Help them to prepare for culture shock and any other difficulties. Enable them to try to solve the problem by themselves first, instead of bringing it to the schools no matter what.
Parent sharing - Since we will have student sharing for students' pre-departure orientation, why won't we have parent sharing in the one for parents? As parents want to get involved to their students' school life so much, give them the chance and I am sure they will be very eager to tell other parents how happy they are when they found out their children have became very independent after they returned from their study trip.
During the Exchange
Don't make it disturbing but try to contact your students once a month and see if they are doing okay or just ask them anything new they have experienced. They will feel more connected to the school than ever; and they know there are at least you there when they need help from their school.
After the Exchange
As more and more people start talking about revise-culture shock nowadays, it has become necessary for home schools to arrange Post-exchange meeting after students coming back from overseas. Again, they will feel the school still care about them even the program is finished; and help them to re-connect to their home culture. Apart from this, it is also a good opportunity for students to share their experience; and help the school to understand more about the host country and school; so that we can improve our preparation again and again.
Perhaps, returning students can contribute even more than that. They can be a very good source in providing peer support to incoming international students; as well as outgoing exchange students in the future.
August, 2017 (Version 6.0);
since January 01, 2007
Best viewed in 1024 x 768 resolution; IE 11 / Safari / Chrome / Firefox - By Lorencio H M Shiu; all rights reserved MMVII - MMXVII
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