Parents' Role in Study Abroad
Parents and guardians are in important part of the study abroad process. Here are some specific ways to show support and be involved in the process:
- Make sure your student is on top of their visa paperwork and passport applications
- Assist with flight arrangements if needed
- Develop a plan for handling family emergencies that may arise while your child is away
Once your child has selected a program and is ready to go overseas, s/he should enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive important information about local safety conditions and to help the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate make contact in an emergency. As a parent, you can also sign up in STEP to receive travel and safety updates from the country where your child is studying. In an emergency, help is available to your student 24/7.
Check out our student pre-departure orientation to get a better idea of how to help your student prepare for study abroad.
Sometimes being abroad can make it difficult for a student to stay in touch with their family ─ you have to consider time differences, additional commitments such as academic excursions/personal travel, cost, and potentially unreliable technology that may limit access to communicating. Here are a few tips to help you keep in touch with your student while he or she is abroad.
Develop a communication plan:
Schedule a time to talk weekly or more often as your family deems appropriate.
Consider various technologies:
There might be tools that will work better across time zones and oceans than what you currently use: WhatsApp, Facetime, Google Hangouts, Skype, phone calls/chat.
Use social media to stay connected:
Follow your student's experiences through their posts on Facebook, Instagram, Foursquare, and SnapChat.
Contacting your student's study abroad site
At some point while your student is studying away, you may want or need to contact your student's study away site. However, please keep in mind that due to several Federal laws, such as FERPA and HIPAA, there may be limited or no information that your student's study away site will be able to share with you pertaining to your student's housing, academics, and health. We encourage parents to discuss these topics with their students directly and contact the study away site in the instance that a parent needs to report something significant to the study away staff.
Sending Packages Abroad
If you're planning to ship packages abroad, please pay special attention not only to shipping costs, but also to possible taxes that you son or daughter will have to pay when picking up your care package. These costs vary dramatically and the laws governing them change frequently, so it's best to ask your shipping carrier of choice for more information.
Find our office's contact information here. If this is an emergency, please contact Zane Segle, the Director of Study Abroad, International, and Domestic Programs, directly on his emergency line: 843-469-7817.