A Parent’s Perspective: When your child decides to study in Australia
So, your child wants to study in Australia.
This article is for all the parents of international students!
You probably have a lot of feelings about this. You might be worried that they’re going to be all by themselves, perhaps for the first time ever. You probably have questions about finances, and travel, and every other part of this journey. Maybe you’re really excited that they have such an incredible opportunity because you know they’ve been working towards this moment for years!
We so frequently hear the student perspective of what this whole experience is like, but what about the parents’ side of this life changing decision?
How did Kathy feel once it was official that Emma was going to Australia?
Probably like most parents in this situation, it was a mix of emotions. She was a bit worried because Emma was going so far from home and she couldn’t just pop over to help her if needed. But she was mostly excited that her daughter was starting this incredible journey. It was something that Emma had been dreaming of for a long time, so it was exciting to see it all come together for her.
How did OzTREKK help parents with the process of getting their children to Australia?
There a few ways that OzTREKK helps parents. Under normal circumstances, OzTREKK provides in-person meet-ups for both students and parents at various locations across Canada. The parents have the chance to chat and learn from other parents who have been through this process before. The best part though? Getting to see all their children meet new friends to start their Australian journey off on the right foot.
There is also an “OzTREKK Parents” Facebook group for parents of students. Some parents have children in fourth year and some have children just starting their program, so it’s quite easy to get advice from parents who have been in the same situation as you are now. They chat about everything from sales on flights to advice for coping with homesickness. It’s a pretty friendly and helpful virtual community!
What has cross-seas communication with Emma been like?
In some ways, if your child has studied in a different part of Canada before, even an hour away like Emma did for her undergrad, it was no different. She wouldn’t be home every night, but she was a phone call away. Emma did text or call every few days to update her mom, and Kathy was eager to follow Emma’s journey on social media.
The biggest challenge was the time difference and she started using the international clock on her phone more frequently to figure out when Emma was probably awake. Many phone plans in Australia do include international call and text, or you can use apps like What’s App, Skype, or iMessage that run off of wi-fi or data (which is quite reasonably priced in Australia).
Any advice for sending care packages?
Be sure to get the address right. Double check the formatting of your child’s Australian address and be aware that the suburb of the city (e.g., Chatswood is a suburb of Sydney) is often considered the city in the address (so you’d write Chatswood instead of Sydney as the address). If the address is incorrect, chances are it will make its way back to you, but it will result in a delay in getting to your child, and you’ll be doubling up on some already hefty shipping fees.
Speaking of fees, you can save money by using a less expensive shipping option, which often means you just have to mail your package earlier. Emma does recommend investing in some kind of tracking option though, just so you know where the package is.
You can also buy some Australian stores that sell online gift cards (Meyer, David Jones, Woolworths, Kohl’s and Westfield) if you don’t want to mail a full parcel from Canada.
What was the hardest part of Emma being in Australia?
For Kathy, the hardest part of not being near Emma was during her birthday. They have special family traditions for birthdays that aren’t entirely possible when one person is on the other side of the world. Thankfully, Kathy was able to enlist Emma’s roommate to help and together they made some of those birthday traditions come true.
While it was hard when she thought about the distance or when challenging moments happened and she couldn’t be there to fix things. It’s at times like those that extra calls can help both the parent and the student.
Kathy was also sure to renew her passport for ten years so she would be able to drop everything and fly to Australia fairly quickly if needed, which gave her a sense of security.
Any final advice for incoming parents with children just starting this experience?
- Enjoy the ride and join them for it.
- Everything will be fine and your child will be okay.
- Be excited for them!
Watch as OzTREKK Student Ambassador (and current third-year Macquarie medical student Emma sits down with her mom Kathy to chat about what it’s like for all of the moms and dads out there.
What do OzTREKK Ambassadors do?
- Show you what it’s really like to study at an Australia university
- Share the highs and lows in and outside of the classroom
- Answer your questions (they’re excited to chat with you on Instagram)