For parents, studying abroad can be one of the most exciting and life-changing experiences of your son or daughter’s life, and we understand that it can be a big step for the entire family. Your student will work with our staff during the application, pre-departure, overseas, and return experience.
The Office of Global Affairs will communicate directly with him or her via email, phone, and our online application management system. Your student is advised to refer to his or her application frequently for program updates, to submit required program materials, to ask questions, etc. While parents can always contact us, we do urge students to take ownership of the process themselves to get them started on the right track for a study abroad experience!
Expectations we have of you, as parents
- Realize that the majority of our communications should be directly with your son or daughter, but feel free to ask us for clarification or program updates
- Keep open communication with your student about the details of his or her study abroad program that includes, but is not limited to, academic information, travel arrangements, and finances
- Empower your son or daughter, through support and guidance, to take the lead in managing his or her own study abroad experience
- Understand FERPA regulations as they apply to dissemination of student information; please know that for your student’s safety, we are obliged to follow federal law. Please see here for more information about FERPA.
Information your student should give you
- The address and contact information for the campus abroad, as well as his or her phone number in housing (if applicable; not all programs list the housing address)
- The emergency phone number for the on-site program director (if applicable), which students receive prior to departure
- Your student’s bank account and credit card information, if your student wishes for you to access his or her accounts while abroad
- Copies of travel documents: passport, visa, etc.
- Round trip flight information
Health & Safety
As part of your study abroad program with Sacred Heart University, your student will be enrolled in an GeoBlue health insurance plan which will provide him/her with service and protection in the event he/she becomes ill or injured during the program. It is mandatory that all students participating in SHU study abroad programs be enrolled in GeoBlue insurance coverage. The cost is included in the payment of the study abroad fee. Parents can access information about GeoBlue by visiting the GeoBlue Parents website. In the event of a medical or evacuation emergency, you should contact GeoBlue immediately at 1.844.268.2686 (within the U.S.) or +1.610.254.8771 (Outside the U.S.).
Parents are often concerned when they do not hear from their son or daughter immediately after arrival. Your concern is natural, but in most cases, students are not able to make international phone calls from the airport. Sometimes students are moving from one place to the other, participating in orientations, taking other modes of transportation, in bad cell reception areas, unable to locate a phone or computer, sleeping, etc.
Do not worry if you do not hear from your student within the first few hours of their arrival! Your son or daughter will contact you when he or she gets settled in. Be assured that the on-site program staff or the Office of Global Affairs will always notify parents if there is a serious problem.
Some students prefer to purchase a cell phone upon arrival in the host country or use their current cell phone with a new SIM card from the host country. Often times, students will purchase local pay-as-you-go phones and deposit money on them as necessary. For programs that span two weeks or less, cell phones are not entirely necessary. For semester programs that span 3 – 4 months, cell phones are recommended and commonly used as the primary method of communication. We recommend that students NOT purchase a contract plan!
Note: Cell phones are an amazing benefit, but as a direct line “back home” they can also be a real negative deterrent to learning to deal with the new situations. Try to limit cell phone use for “normal communication” — not for constant or excessive play-by -play advice and relating what is going on each and every minute. Give your student a chance to figure things out for themselves, and to live his or her new life. Your son or daughter will tell you everything soon enough!
It is very common for a student to experience some degree of homesickness or difficulty transitioning to a new culture when he or she goes abroad – even a student who has traveled previously. Being in a new and different environment is challenging and takes a little getting used to; some students adapt sooner while others need more time. Do not be too concerned if your son or daughter has some ups and downs while adjusting to life in his or her new country. Culture adjustment issues are very normal and most students experience them to some degree. A few helpful tips:
- If your student appears to be having difficulties adjusting to new surroundings, please let us know. Often, we are able to contact someone at the host university or on site to provide a different perspective on the situation or arrange for appropriate intervention
- Do not encourage your student to come home or ‘feed’ their depression. Encourage him or her to continue to remain involved; in many cases the problem your son or daughter calls you about solves itself within 24 hours. Resist your initial urge to fly over and save the day
- Encourage your student to seek out the people necessary to help resolve the problem and let your student take the lead in doing so
- Ask your student to call you back within the next 24 hours. Usually by that time he or she is feeling better and problems are solved – but your student will often forget to call and tell you that part!
- Remember: Stay in touch – but not too often! The acculturation process will be slow if your student spends too much time emailing and talking on the phone to family and friends back home. Instead, encourage your student to spend more time exploring the city, making new friends, and learning the ways of the host country.
Perceived versus Real Emergencies
We understand you want to know what is going on in his or her new life but you need to allow time for your student to acclimate to the new surroundings. Teary phone calls during the first few weeks of a study abroad program are not usually cause for concern, especially if your student is attending classes, eating regularly and going out on program activities and socially with other students. It is entirely normal that your student will call home when feeling lost, lonely and want to hear the comforting and consoling voice of a parent. These healing moments, while difficult for the parent, help your student to work through the adjustment process and to progress in his or her learning and development.
If you notice a pattern in which your student is exhibiting one or more of the following behaviors; however, you should recommend that your student seek advising and counseling from the onsite program staff. Please encourage your student to seek local help through the program’s on-site staff or university’s international student office. If you do not think your student is getting the necessary local help or he or she is incapable of asking for it, then contact us directly to discuss available options. Most importantly, avoid stepping in to solve problems for your son or daughter and urge them to find a solution on their own. Offer your support and let your son or daughter know that you trust them to make the right decisions while studying abroad.
Jandrisevits Learning Center
If your son or daughter has a physical, mental, or learning condition, illness, or limitation, we strongly encourage him or her to contact us immediately to let us know the nature of the condition. Even if he or she is sure the condition is under control, it is best to alert us so that we can take any precautions necessary to ensure your student’s safety and well-being. Sacred Heart does not discriminate against students with disabilities or special needs and encourages participation in a study abroad program. Disclosing to us will have no effect on acceptance, rather it will help us to be better able to help your student find a program or accommodate a program to his or her needs.