Maybe you always had the wish to study abroad or it might have come up rather recently. Among all the thoughts you have about studying abroad, you might have one main concern: how to study abroad with a child? It might feel good to stay in your comfort zone, but sooner or later the feeling of not fulfilling your dream might gnaw at you. Let’s discuss some topics to help you fulfill your dream of studying abroad with children.
We will not lie and tell you that it’s going to be a piece of cake. With the right preparation although, studying abroad with a child can be a success. You would’ve to organize more things than you’d have done if you were going abroad on your own. That’s the reason why starting early on is important!
Questions you will have to find answers to in the early process are:
- Where do I want to study?
Think about different countries and some important aspects associated with them such as study and living expenses, learning a new language, settling down in a new culture, etc.
- Do I want to go abroad for a short-term or a long-term period?
Although a short-term period means less time abroad, it might make it easier to find support for your plan. On the other hand, you need to organize more things as a parent, so a very short-term stay abroad might not be worth it.
- Can I study abroad with a child?
Depending upon the country you want to go to, there might be different conditions you have to meet to take your child and partner (if accompanying you) with you.
Once you have shortlisted some countries and/or universities, get in contact with the university’s international office and the embassy of the respective country to discuss your situation in more detail. If possible, try to get in touch with someone who has studied abroad with a child. All of this will help you to compare the situations in different countries and at different universities. More importantly, it’ll preserve you from planning something, which does not work out in the end.
There are many possibilities to study abroad. Every country means a different culture and you’ve to be aware of this before you leave. Cultural differences can influence the way people react to (single) parents or women studying abroad. On the other hand, there will also be cultural differences in the way support structures are being offered, such as financial support, a residence for students with children, playgrounds for children in the university.
Another subject is the language. Find out if it’s really necessary to learn the local language to navigate through everyday life with a child or if you can survive with a langue that you already speak, for example English. Nowadays, universities offer more and more programs in English and other foreign languages.
However, in childcare and schools, the local language might be spoken, unless you choose an international school. It might be easier for children to learn a new language compared to you as a parent. Involve your child in the planning and the integration process might get easier.
Expenses of studying abroad with a child
The living expenses while studying abroad are partly comparable to the living expenses you’ve at home. Think about expenses for rent, groceries, insurances, and childcare. But keep in mind that the living expenses might differ in different countries depending upon the quality of life. We recommend paying special attention to the health insurance. You might not have one in your home country but it’s obligatory in many countries. While getting health insurance, make sure that your child and partner (if going with you) are also covered in the insurance.
Moreover, keep the additional costs for admission applications, visa applications, vaccinations, and flight tickets in mind. You’d probably have to bear additional costs concerning some of these points because you want to study abroad with children.
Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who get support from their partner or family. It could be a good idea to ask for financial support from your family because studying abroad would pay you back later. Another option could be a scholarship. Depending upon where you are studying, there might be scholarships specifically for students with children to support them pursue their education.
In case you’re not able to find a scholarship or some other financial support, you might want to consider doing a part-time job. It might be possible to work while your child is at school or maybe you can work from home. Don’t forget to check the maximum number of hours you can work or how much you’re allowed to earn. If doing a job becomes hard, you might want to consider taking a student loan. However, it may be difficult getting a loan in a foreign country.
It’s not always easy to find accommodation as an international student. When you’re on your own, that might not be a problem. But if you’d like to study abroad with a child, it could become problematic. Children need a safe and peaceful environment. In some cases, universities offer accommodations to students with children. While applying, you should highlight the fact that you’re coming abroad with your child. In case the university can’t offer you accommodation, they might be able to support you in finding something else that meets your needs.
You’re afraid that you will feel homesick, right? Or even worse, your child will? Yes, at times it might be hard to be alone in a foreign country, but don’t forget that your family is with you. Homesickness is usually a phase, which passes with time. You might be surprised about the flexibility your child may show. Keep in mind that you’ve got a role in this. Your adaptability would most probably influence the flexibility of your child.
Going to a new country means a lot of new impressions and experiences. You as well as your family, might need some time to get used to the host country. At the same time, it might be hard to find the balance between studying, working, taking time for your child and partner, and more importantly, finding time for yourself. Don’t be stressed if it doesn’t immediately work out but try, for example, to make use of childcare to get some time for yourself.
Childcare and schools
Depending on the age of your child, you might have to send your child to a kindergarten or a school. This benefits both you and your child: you get some free time and your child has the opportunity to interact with other children. Sometimes universities offer childcare. In case they don’t, you can try to find something on your own. A big help could be parents’ communities or online forums for parents where they discuss different possibilities.
Being abroad also means being away from friends and family, who normally might support you in the daily care of your child. Maybe you know family or friends abroad who would be more than happy to support you in fulfilling your dreams. They might be available to help you during the first days, in emergencies, or even in the daily childcare. If this is not the case, it’s pretty normal in some countries to hire a babysitter to take care of your child or maybe you find a guest family for your stay.
These were some important points concerning how to study abroad with a child. Although it’ll ask quite something of you, keep in mind the far-reaching benefits of studying abroad. The good news is, the management skills you need for this process will help you in your professional life after graduation.
If you want further information related to study abroad and tips on how to prepare admission documents such as CV, Letter of Motivation (LOM), Letter of Recommendation (LOR), etc., check out How to Study Abroad.
We also offer services such as Document Review and Writing Services, Interview Preparation Services, and Career Counseling Services to help you fulfill your dream of studying abroad.
Author: Andrea Sijp