Topics and Suggestions for Parents of Study Abroad Participants
The topics and suggestions provided here can assist you and your student in preparing for a positive and productive study abroad experience.
Please click on the topic titles below to view detailed information.
It is important to consider health as you and your student are making decisions about studying abroad. The following list suggests things to do both at this stage and after your student has been admitted to a study-abroad program:
- Update childhood vaccinations;
- Consult your physician, a travel clinic, or the Center for Disease Control regarding additional recommended vaccinations;
- If your student takes any regular medications, consult with your physician about how to provide an adequate supply for the duration of the program;
- If your student has any pre-existing medical conditions that will require treatment while abroad, confirm with the relevant program advisor that adequate treatment is available on-site;
- If your student has any sensitivity to certain climates, or medical conditions such as asthma or allergies, investigate the conditions in the area of the program;
- If your student has any dietary restrictions or food allergies, inquire about whether they will be problematic or difficult to accommodate within the host culture;
- If your student has physical or learning disabilities, investigate whether the host country can offer accommodations; and
- If your student has mental health concerns that could require treatment abroad, consult with the treating doctor or counselor about preparing for the experience and with the relevant program advisor about the availability of counseling services in English in the host country.
- Confirm the components of the program’s cost that will be billed through your school and which, if any, will need to be paid directly (please see attached schedule for details).
- Anticipate the additional expenses your student may encounter abroad. For example, consider the cost of public transportation, telephone calls, recreation, toiletries and other personal expenses. Make sure to factor in the dollar’s relatively weak value abroad.
- Discuss the travel budget you will provide for your student, if applicable. Be sure to check current exchange rates.
- Consult your bank and credit card companies about usage fees and availability of services in your student’s study abroad destination. See the Overseas Programs Handbook for Study Abroad for general information. Your student will receive country-specific information in pre-departure orientation sessions.
- Many parents of study abroad students have the opportunity to visit the countries and the programs in which their students are studying. It is a highly rewarding experience for the parent, the student and the study abroad program.
- The Lewer Agency recommends the services of the international travel professionals at Travel Leaders. Travel Leaders is one of the world’s leading travel agencies with special expertise in planning individual and group travel to faraway destinations. Click here for information and assistance in booking your travel.
- Make flight reservations as soon as your student is admitted AND program dates are confirmed. Some programs will take care of this detail as soon as your student has been accepted in the program.
- Review visa requirements for your student’s study abroad destination. In some cases, parents will need to provide some documentation. In most cases, your student will receive some degree of assistance in this process from the program at your school.
- Research telephone cards or international land-based and cell-phone long-distance calling plans to call your student at the most reasonable rates. Students will receive information about calling home from their host country either in pre-departure meetings or once they reach the program site.
- Notify bank(s) of the fact your student will be abroad. Be as specific as possible regarding dates and locations of travel. Encourage your student to contact the bank(s) with updates as travel plans change.
- If possible, request a small amount of the host country’s currency from your bank so that your student can have some on hand immediately upon arrival.
- Make multiple photocopies of passport information page and visa, if relevant. Keep one copy in the U.S. with parents, one or more copies in a safe place abroad, but separate from the original document.
- Photocopy the front and back of all credit and debit cards. Keep one copy in the U.S. with parents, one or more copies in a safe place abroad, but separate from the original document.
- Record numbers of travelers checks, if your student is using them. Make sure you and your student have the emergency telephone numbers available if checks are lost or stolen. Keep the list separate from the travelers checks and update it as checks are used.
- Make sure you and your student know the location of important travel documents such as passport, tickets, and letters of admission or financial guarantee (if applicable). When packing, these should all be in a student’s carry-on baggage rather than checked luggage.
- Confirm flight information at least a week before traveling. Make sure you and your student are aware of luggage size and weight limits of the airline, as well as limits on carry-on baggage.
- Communicate arrival information to program staff, if requested.
- Develop a communication plan with your student. This can outline how and within what timeframe you expect to be contacted when your student arrives in the host country, or if there is an incident of any sort (natural disaster, political unrest, act of terrorism, train/bus/plane crash) that may affect your student in the host country or while traveling. It is also prudent to make a similar plan should anything happen in the U.S. Provide your student with contact information for family or friends outside of your hometown in case he or she is unable to reach you at home or via cell phone.
- Talk to your student about the importance of responsible behavior abroad, particularly in areas such as alcohol consumption, sexual behavior, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It is particularly important that students who regularly use prescription medication to manage a chronic condition continue using it.