Parent Handbook

  • Program Basics

    The decision to send your teenager abroad can be difficult and there are a lot of questions to consider. We understand your concerns and the Greenheart Travel staff is there for you every step of the way! For us, it is important that parents be involved in the decision from day one.


    Greenheart Travel is focused on 100% cultural immersion. We know that the best way to learn a language or become part of a different culture is to live it! All classes are conducted in the local language and students are encouraged to get involved in after-school clubs and activities.


    Greenheart Travel offers the most comprehensive pre-departure support before a child begins their adventure. Much time is spent with you and your child to ensure you all understand the program and have realistic expectations.

    Social Activism & Awareness:

    Teens are extremely active on social media. They can rest assured that we are always on Facebook and have an incredible blog that is just for our participants. They can contribute to the blog, or simply read about their peers who are studying in different countries. Teens also want to feel like they’re making a difference in the world. Greenheart Travel is the only cultural exchange organization that encourages students to log community service hours while abroad through our Greenheart Club.


    We work with you and your child to determine the best program set up for them. We allow your family to decide the best length of study and the best destination country for your needs. You can choose between 3 months, a semester or full academic year in the country of your choosing. Also, we can be flexible about where your child is placed.

    Ask us about placing your child with a host family you already know!


    Accommodation with a carefully screened local host family, 2-3 meals a day, full medical/accident insurance, 24-hour emergency support, and more depending on the program & location.

  • Parent FAQs

    What does it mean to be in good mental health?

    Moving to a new culture and staying in unfamiliar surroundings without your normal support structure can be very stressful, even to a well-adjusted student. Sending a student with pre-existing conditions on a long-term exchange program could exacerbate whatever challenges the student was previously facing. In order to ensure the safety of our participants, we must be rigorous in our pre-screening of all high school abroad applicants.

    Therefore, we may not be able to accept students who have struggled with any kind of mental illness within the last 2 years and/or are reliant on medication to address their existing mental health condition.

    These include, but are not limited to:

    • Depression
    • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
    • Debilitating anxiety
    • Eating disorders

    If the student’s mental health issue has been managed (post-medication) for over 2 years, we will ask for a note from his/her relevant practitioner (psychologist, therapist, psychiatrist, etc) as part of the application process.

    What kind of assistance will my child receive while abroad?

    There is a strong network of people working together to ensure your child’s time abroad is successful. This includes the Greenheart Travel program manager in the U.S., the natural parents, the local coordinator abroad in country, the host school, and the host family. Immediate assistance will be provided by the local coordinator and/or host family according to a robust chain of communication, explained prior to departure.

    Do you offer any scholarships, financial aid, or special discounts?

    Yes. Every year we offer various scholarships for select high school program destinations. There are two Early Bird Deadline discounts offered each year as well. If you have hosted a student for Greenheart Exchange, you are also eligible for a Greenheart Host Family discount.

    My child’s school requires service learning in order to graduate. How will they do that abroad?

    Greenheart Travel is proud to offer the Greenheart Club for all of our students. The Greenheart Club challenges our participants to pursue a deeper level of immersion through volunteerism. As a member of the Greenheart Club, your child will receive guidance in strategizing creative ways to give back to their community, have access to tools for tracking their impact and receive incentives for their efforts as a global leader. This is a great chance for your child to get to know the local community outside of the classroom while they study abroad.

    Can friends study abroad together?

    Our programs are based on a full, cultural immersion experience so friends are not allowed to study abroad together in the same host school. Don’t worry though; making friends in the new host country will happen quickly!

    Can my child come home to visit or can we visit them while abroad?

    No. Visits are not allowed during the high school program. If your family wishes to visit, you should plan to meet your child after your program is completed. In this instance, Greenheart Travel’s National office and international partner office should be informed of your family’s plans.

    Does my child need to be fluent in another language?

    No. One of the main goals of studying abroad is to become fluent in another language while living overseas. The host family and school will not expect your child to be fluent when they first arrive and will help them improve their language skills. As long as your child tries their best, they’ll pick up the language sooner than you might think!

    Can my child take the SATs while abroad?

    Your child will not be able to take the SATs while abroad.  We highly recommend taking the SATs prior to or after the program.

    My child has already graduated, are they still eligible?

    On a case by case basis, we can accept graduated students for Argentina, Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

    Can we speak to current high school students or alumni?

    Yes! Check out our blog or your child can join our exclusive teen programs Facebook group to talk to current and past students.

    We also have an extensive list of mentors (teens and parents) that are past participants open to chatting about their experience with potential new participants. Please email us at if you want to be put in touch with a mentor.

  • Orientation

    The most important part of a child’s study abroad program is having realistic expectations about what their experience will entail. Most importantly, students need to have the tools to deal with the challenges and successes they’ll face while abroad. Whether through regular phone conversations, e-mails, or Skype meetings, your child will have the necessary information to make sure they are getting all they can out of their international experience.

    Unlike other organizations, Greenheart Travel conducts not one, but two pre-departure orientations. These sessions offer best practices to get the most out of the full immersion program and give your child a full picture of what to expect as an exchange student.

    1. General pre-departure orientation

    This orientation covers essential logistical information about the student’s program. It is conducted by a local coordinator in your area when possible, or by a Greenheart Travel staff member.

    The Pre-departure orientation covers topics like:

    • Packing
    • Lines of Communication
    • Land Line and Mobile Phone Use while abroad
    • Money (how much to bring, what to expect)
    • Insurance/Healthcare
    • Risk Factors and Tips
    • Emergency Procedures
    • Program Rules
    • Program Evaluations
    • Recommended Reading Material

    Our students and parents use this orientation to prepare logistically for their child’s departure. They also learn the practices and procedures while their child is abroad and how to deal with questions and concerns.

    2. Cultural Pre-departure Orientation

    Understanding the basics of culture shock is very important, but understanding the intricacies of a completely different and unique culture is essential. Our cultural pre-departure orientations go over the basics of their host country’s culture and give students the insight into what will be the most exciting and challenging when they first arrive and throughout the program. This particular orientation has proved invaluable to both parents and students, making the ‘unknown’ known.

    It includes:

    • Recommended questions to aks the host family when your child first arrives
    • Conversation starters to ‘break the ice’ when they initially meet their HF
    • Suggestions on how to show their HF appreciation
    • Potential issues related to cultural differences and how to avoid them
    • Potential issues related to cultural differences and how to handle them if they do occur
    • Basic phrases and lingo of host country’s language
    • Tips on how to handle culture shock and homesickness
    • Social Integration
    • Typical meals (cuisine, meal times, etc)
    • How to acclimate to the host country’s culture before departure (i.e. begin taking shorter showers (Ireland), begin using chopsticks (Japan), introduce sharp punctuality into your daily life (Switzerland)
    • Little known aspects of host country’s culture (i.e., In most Spanish homes, people are expected to wear house shoes).
    • Group participation to excite you and your child about their upcoming adventure

    The cultural session is conducted via Skype by a Greenheart Travel staff person in the national office. All participants and their parents are asked to attend the session pertinent to their host country destination. Conversation, questions, and answers are encouraged at the end, but are invited throughout. If you cannot attend the pre-scheduled orientation, you will receive the recorded session so that you and your child can listen together.

  • Support

    Living and immersing oneself in a different culture can be an incredible adventure, but fully adjusting to a new community will take work. Your child will probably communicate their challenges with you at several points during their exchange. In fact, students tend to speak more about their challenges than their successes. Have no fear, your Program Manager is here!

    You will have direct and constant access to the High School Abroad staff, which is available to counsel and guide you 24/7 through whatever difficulties your child might be facing abroad. No issue is too small or big. We are here to help your child have the most successful program outcome possible and put you at ease even during their most challenging stages.

    After your child completes his/her exchange, they will be part of a very elite group of U.S. High School students who have studied abroad. Studying abroad is an incredible feat, and is even more impressive when it is accomplished in High School. High School students learn languages faster than their University-selves and are able to adjust more quickly. We want to support and encourage them upon their return to ensure they will become leaders in their community and among their peers. Whether it be reverse culture shock counseling or writing letters of recommendation (upon request), we are here to assist with your child’s transition home. Greenheart Travel was lucky enough to help you and your child realize their dream of studying abroad and we want to be a part of helping them realize their dreams for the future.

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