Study Abroad Tips: 4 Common Questions from Parents

by Naomi Mannino

When it comes to putting learning into practice before graduation, there’s no better experience than studying abroad. Spending time (and completing coursework) in another country helps students apply what they’ve learned in the classroom and gain real-world experience that enhances their cultural competency.

But, as parents facilitating this special experience, you may be looking for some practical study abroad tips that can help your child while they’re away. Here are answers to four of the most common questions parents often have.

1. How Can I Stay in Contact with My Student Studying Abroad?

Students can stay in constant contact with their families through email as well as recommended free apps such as WhatsApp, Skype, FaceTime, and Facebook Messenger. All of these communication options are available on their mobile devices whenever they have an internet connection. As a parent, it’s a good idea to take the time to download these apps—and practice using them—before your student departs.

“We highly encourage students to put down their devices and engage fully in the community, however social media and consistent communication help keep families involved and are also essential to student learning and development during study away opportunities,” says Kate Kimanzi, assistant director at the Center for Global Learning and Engagement at Azusa Pacific University.

2. Can I Visit My Student While He or She Is Studying Abroad?

This is something to ask your child before making assumptions or plans to join them during their study abroad experience. Sometimes families are encouraged to visit their child, if requested by the student, at the end of the program semester or program term.

“It’s important for a student’s educational experience and practice of cross-cultural communication to avoid interruption by a visiting family member in the beginning or middle of the semester,” says Kimanzi.

3. How Can I Be Assured of My Child’s Health and Safety When Studying Away?

Should your student fall ill or have an accident while studying abroad, there is international health insurance coverage that is available (and can be automatically applied as a charge to a student’s account) so they have coverage anywhere in the world. In addition, Kimanzi says health and safety information is usually discussed with students during pre-departure meetings to emphasize the importance of safety and maintaining community policies while studying away in a foreign country and new culture.

“The health and safety of our students, faculty, community partners, and all stakeholders is of the utmost importance when a student is studying abroad in one of our programs or one of our partner programs,” Kimanzi explains. “The onsite directors, faculty, and staff are available before, during, and upon returning from a program.”

4. How Do I Develop a Budget for My Student Studying Abroad?

At Azusa Pacific University, the Center for Global Learning and Engagement Office (also known as the “Study Away Office”) provides students with a financial aid guide as well as preparation resources, pre-departure meetings, and advising about budgeting for a specific semester or any short-term study away program. Using these materials, you can work with your child to establish a plan well before they board the plane.

“Depending on the study away program chosen, fees for semesters—in addition to tuition—may include housing, meals, airfare, health insurance, a university services fee, cultural/semester activities, and limited excursions,” advises Kimanzi. “A student’s full financial aid package can be applied to tuition and program fees for Group 1 APU semesters, and there is an opportunity for students to apply for federal and state aid to APU partner Group 2 programs as well.”

Kimanzi encourages students to apply for scholarships that could help with costs and to be aware that study away is about putting academics into practice and faith in action. This is typically achieved through internship opportunities, experiential learning, and engagement with local community partners.

One of the most important study abroad tips for parents of APU students is to make sure they read all emails, attend their study away pre-departure meetings at the Center for Global Learning and Engagement office on campus, and review materials the Study Away Resources website. This way, they’ll have access to all the resources provided to them a semester ahead of time, such as the Parent/Family Guide, a study away mentor, and pre-departure logistics information. All of this will help prepare your child to make the most of their study away experience.

Curious to learn more about the study away opportunities offered through Azusa Pacific University? Visit the Center for Global Learning and Engagement website.

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