What You Need To Know About Your Child Going Abroad

The Benefits of Studying Abroad

We know how scary it can be as a parent to let your child embark on an adventure such as study abroad so far away from home. You’ve spent the majority of the last 2 decades raising them to be the men and women they are today, and now they have decided to take their next big step to travel the world.

Opening Minds
Studying abroad has a way of broadening worldviews, cultivating independence, and instilling in students a desire to make the most of life. It’s one of the greatest growing experiences a student can experience. Not only will your child learn to plan trips and navigate different cultures, they will also learn how to take care of themselves and will gain a new perspective of the world. Studying abroad is not a vacation. Sure, they will see beautiful sites and make friendships of a lifetime, but they will also be challenged in new academic ways and taught to truly LIVE in another culture. Not just be a tourist.

Support Every Step of the Way
We at Athena do all that we can to ensure that our students have a quality, immersive study abroad experience. We don’t want them just meeting other American students and taking weekend trips. We want them to feel a sense of belonging in their host city and learn from the local culture surrounding them. True cultural immersion is very important to us and we achieve this through our small program and class sizes, and personalized attention throughout the process.

We are there for your student every step of the way but we know that we can never take the place of a parent’s support. We want you to be able to help your student in this life changing experience the best you can so we created this special section just for you. In here you will find information about the people behind Athena, practical steps to prepare your child, safety information, and much much more.

We Are Here for You
If at any point you have a question, please feel free to contact us here at Athena. While we can only discuss much of the specific information regarding your student with them due to FERPA regulations, we are happy to be a resource for you along this journey. You can reach us at or 866-922-7623.

Safety While Abroad

Our students’ safety is our top concern here at Athena. We keep a very close eye on all world events and get continual updates on what is going on around the globe. We are not afraid to cancel a program if there is reason to believe the program or program location is not safe. That being said, it is very rare that we have to cancel a program.

While the media here in the U.S. can be informative, it is important to remember that it is typically reported from a certain point of view.  Stories that may make top news over here may not necessarily be a true reflection of the reality happening abroad. We have very close partners on the ground at each of our program locations, and we are in constant contact with our on-site support staff to monitor the safety of each of our programs.

In the event of an emergency situation abroad, we have extensive protocols set in place to ensure our students’ safety. To read these safety protocols, click here.

Health Insurance

All students receive health insurance coverage from Athena’s international supplemental health insurance policy. Students will receive their health insurance card from us 1-2 weeks out from their program start date. Please have your student refer to their online account for additional information regarding their coverage.

All of our overseas partners are well prepared to handle any type of emergency should it arise, so please be sure to tell your student to notify the onsite faculty of any medical concerns.

Preparing You and Your Child for Life Abroad

Your child is going to be changed by his/her study abroad experience and this isn’t necessarily an easy process. As with any life change, there are going to be growing pains, and while we do our best to prepare them before they go, learning about something and experiencing it first hand are completely different. Our hope is that by also preparing you for this transition, you will be able to serve as yet another resource for your student as they adapt to their new surroundings. Here are ways to support your child in their study abroad experience:


  • Let them take the reins. We know getting course approvals, booking flights, packing, and getting documents in order aren’t always the most fun or easiest tasks, but by having your child take responsibility for these tasks you are empowering them to problem solve and develop necessary skills that will serve them well abroad. Your child’s study abroad experience begins long before they step foot on the plane and we want to make sure they get the most out of this experience as possible.


  • Learn about their program. We firmly believe that the more you know about your child’s program the better you will be able to support them when the time comes. Therefore, read up on who we are here at Athena, the program they selected, and the pre-departure information we have provided them. Just because they are the ones on the program doesn’t mean you have to be in the dark.


  • Get a Passport. If you don’t already have one it would be good for you to get a passport. Although unlikely that you will need it, it’s a comfort to know that you could reach your child within a few hours if need be.


  • Prepare Yourself. Your child is going to be changed by this experience. The change will be for the better but it can still be uncomfortable as a parent to see this change in your child. Talk through it with friends or other parents who have had kids studying abroad, and just be prepared to see some changes in your child.


  • Talk with Your Child. Set up communication patterns for while they are abroad, make an emergency contact sheet just in case, look into bank account transfers, and encourage them to explore and make the most of this time. It is likely that your child is going to be overwhelmed at some point along the process, so it’s important for you to support them and reinforce the morals and values you’ve raised them with. There’s nothing like the comforting of a parent to help calm the nerves!


  • Don’t Be Afraid to Show Some Tough Love. Between jet lag and culture shock (both completely normal and expected reactions), the first few days can be tough for students. It is important that you encourage your child to push through these initial system shocks because they will pass, and what’s awaiting them on the other side is more than worth the temporary discomfort. This may mean not talking to them for a few days or making them stick it out for a couple more weeks if they’re wanting to come home. We understand this may be uncomfortable but many times with tough love comes great lessons learned. To learn more about culture shock and how to cope with it, we recommend this article: How to Deal with Culture Shock While Studying Abroad


  • Be Flexible. Whether it’s late night phone calls or not hearing from them for weeks, it’s important to try and be as flexible as possible while your child is abroad. Time zones and packed schedules keep the students pretty busy while abroad and so it’s important to try and be flexible with your child and their new routine.


  • Remind Them That You’re Proud of Them. When going through such a life change as study abroad it is really helpful for students to be reminded that they are loved and supported by their family back home. Sometimes they just need that little extra encouragement from you in order to free them to fully embrace their time abroad.



Alyssa Meehan – Florence, Italy Alumna

“When I first came I had a count down for 120 days until I got to leave. I could not wait to leave. I emailed every person possible to figure out a way home. All I remember is everyone telling me to stick it out, it will get better…I could not be more thankful for those people who kept telling me that and pushing me..I sit here today thinking how badly I don’t want to go home…”

Emergency Protocol

While Athena has precautions in place to ensure the utmost safety of our students abroad, sometimes situations arise beyond our control that necessitate immediate action for students’ safety. For this reason, Athena has developed an emergency protocol that our U.S. headquarters, as well as on-site partners, and staff follow in the event of an emergency. These emergencies may include, but are not limited to natural disasters, civil disturbances, or pandemics.

Athena’s full Emergency Protocol procedures can be found HERE.

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