Today it is much easier for parents keeping in touch with overseas students than it was a generation ago.  In previous years, communication from overseas was difficult, save for airmail letters.  However, today, families keep in touch with Skype, Facebook, and instant messaging.

Does technology interfere with cultural and language immersion?  Or does it make the adjustment easier, easing student homesickness and family worry?
Keeping in Touch with Overseas Students

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Long before the era of cell phones, Jane Tabachnick of Montclair, New Jersey, remembers when she studied in Paris for nine months.  She was 21 years old and regularly sent airmail letters to her parents. “I knew they were worried and that they’d be waiting by the mailbox,” she said. “It seemed like an eternity between letters.”

It was different when Tabachnick’s 21-year-old daughter lived in Russia and Paris as part of her studies at Rutgers University. They often conversed by Skype or GoogleChat.
“My daughter is very mature and level-headed and I’m not a big worrier, but I’m a parent, and she’s across the world, and it was just so easy to be in touch,” Tabachnick said. On the other hand, she said, the less she heard from her daughter the better, and not because she didn’t miss her: “When I hear from her a little less, I know she’s out having fun.”

Keeping Students in School and Out of Trouble

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Robbin Watson was forced to give up screen time with the home crowd when her laptop was damaged during a semester in Italy six years ago, when she was 19. “I was devastated at first, wondering to myself, ‘How will I know what’s going on at home? How will I Skype my friends?'” she recalled.
But as time went on, her experience in Rome “drastically changed. I began to go out more, no longer running home from class to hop online. I no longer thought about what was going on at college and soon, I began to not even care.”