4 Ways to Support Your Teen While They’re Studying Abroad

Study abroad is a transformative experience for teens, but it can also be one for their parents and guardians! 

High school summer abroad programs offer you an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and allow your teen to flourish miles away from home. 

Before their summer abroad, you may feel a bit anxious, especially if this is the first time your teen is taking a trip on their own. 

To ease any worries and help support your teen’s academic and personal growth on program, we recommend the following: 

1. Create a Communication Plan With Your Teen

CIEE high school summer programs for teens will include a variety of activities designed to immerse participants in a language or academic topic abroad.  

Throughout the day, your teen will experience a daily schedule filled with interactive lessons, workshops, cultural activities, excursions, and interactions with locals (which may include a host family).  

It will likely be difficult for your teen to be in touch with you every day! 

Before your teen goes abroad, be sure to establish:  

  • How you will communicate: Participants on CIEE high school summer abroad programs usually communicate using messaging apps but many also use email or phone calls. 
  • At what time you will communicate: There may be a time difference of several hours between your hometown and your teen’s study abroad location. Even if your teen is awake at night, it will disturb their host family or roommate to hear late night calls. Choose a time that works best for both (which is usually on the weekends)!
  • How often you will communicate: CIEE recommends participants and their parents/guardians communicate only once or twice a week. This allows participants to be fully engaged and immersed in their program. 


high school summer abroad students in Costa Rica river

2. Encourage Your Teen to Work With Their Local Support System When Needing Help 

During their program, participants will have a local support system that includes: 

  • CIEE Program Leaders 
  • Local CIEE staff (including class instructors, on-site program coordinators, and center directors.) 
  • Host families (a core component of certain high school summer abroad programs, such as Language & Culture programs.) 
  • Global Navigator cohort 

Participants will have access to their CIEE Program Leaders and local CIEE staff 24/7 during program.  

Whenever your teen has an issue or needs anything, empower them to FIRST contact their Program Leaders and CIEE local staff before coming to you for help.  

This helps participants learn how to advocate for themselves and problem-solve with the people who can assist them quicker and more effectively. 

high school summer abroad students on excursion with program leaders

3. Understand Whom to Contact When You Have Questions or Concerns 

You may have concerns that arise while your teen is away. If this happens, contacting your teen or attempting to reach the Local CIEE staff abroad may be difficult due to time differences and logistics.  

Your teen will be busy engaged in program activities and Local CIEE staff will be focused on supporting participants, making it harder for you to get an effective response in a timely manner. 

When you have a concern, please avoid contacting your teen or attempting to reach the Local CIEE staff abroad. Instead, contact the CIEE U.S.-Based Global Navigator Team by email at hsabroad@ciee.org or by phone at 1-866-583-0332.  

The CIEE U.S.-Based Global Navigator team work closely with CIEE staff abroad and will be able to provide you with answers and resources to help you with your questions.  

Please note: As we work on getting you an update while your teen is on program, there may be a delay since our various teams have to communicate across time zones. 

Goup picture of CIEE students in Japan

4. Know Where to Find CIEE On-Program Updates 

There are a couple ways that CIEE will keep you informed about what’s happening on your teen’s program. 

  1. Weekly Newsletters: Local CIEE staff will send out a weekly email newsletter (usually on Thursdays or Fridays). These newsletters give you a chance to follow along what your teen is learning and the activities they are doing as a group.   
  2. Program Blogs: CIEE Program Leaders write short blogs that describe specific activities happening during your teen’s program. You can search for your teen’s high school summer abroad program blog and bookmark it! 
  3. Social Media: To keep up with what's happening on your teen’s program, follow your teen’s destination on Instagram. For general updates on CIEE high school summer abroad Global Navigator programs, follow @cieeglobalnavigators on Instagram and TikTok.  

Will you be able to see images of your teen featured on all On-Program Updates? 

You may not always see images of your teen featured on CIEE’s weekly email newsletters or social media posts. Given the large number of participants on program, it can be difficult to feature each individual participant. However, all of our updates will give you a good sense of what’s happening on program and what activities were a hit with participants! 

What if your teen has an issue or an emergency abroad?  

You can expect to hear from local CIEE staff directly if your teen experiences one of the following: 

  • A significant medical event  
  • A significant health or safety event  
  • A severe mental health concern or one that could impact your teen’s ability to remain on program  
  • A significant housing concern or changes in housing
  • Accountability measures or conversations regarding your teen’s behavior (and how it aligns with the program rules) 

You will receive these communications by email or phone call.

high school summer abroad cohort in Toulouse hugging

Bonus: Trust the Process! 

Remind yourself that high school summer abroad aims to help your teen embrace their independence and grow into a more mature young adult. 

By establishing your communication plan, empowering them to advocate for themselves with their local support system, and understanding whom you can turn to when you have concerns, both you and your teen will have more peace of mind throughout the program—leading to a more positive experience! 

For more step-by-step information, read our What to Expect guide to supporting your teen on a high school summer abroad program.