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CIP's Role: St. Joseph’s University and the Center for International Programs view studying abroad (whether it is for the summer, semester or year) as a vital part of our students' undergraduate experience.  CIP staff are available to help students choose a program that meets their academic goals and personal needs, but we also suggest that students discuss their plans with their Academic Advisor.  In addition, for semester or year abraod programs, credit transfer is handled prior to departure through a course approval process. An on-campus orientation program complements the more in-depth orientations in which our students participate upon arrival. Health, safety, cultural differences, and logistical information are covered at both orientations. This information is provided to parents by categories below: 

Research: Chances are you will feel more secure about your child studying abroad if you do the right research.
  • Read the SJU Study Abroad Policy to understand your student's responsibilities and the SJU policy for Study abroad: SJU Semester Abroad Policy  | SJU Summer Program Policy | Study Tour Policy 
  • Review the appropriate Program Brochure for program-specific information (including estimated expenses!). 
  • Review the program's external website for information.
  • Ask your student for access to their secure, CIP on-line account, which includes additional information about their program and the pre-departure process. 
  • Hear what SJU faculty have to say about study abroad!
  • Research the destination country, including its history, culture, customs, laws, social/moral codes, dress and language.
  • Along with your student, learn a few of the local words and phrases.
  • Never hesitate to ask questions of your student, the advisor or even a program administrator.
Letting Go: Sending your child to study abroad involves a certain amount of letting go on your part. It can be difficult to do, but to ease it, you should begin the process well before departure.
  • Allow your student to make the most of the study abroad decisions - be a guide, not a supervisor.
  • Give your student the information and resources he or she needs to make informed decisions.
  • Don't expect to hear from your student every day while he or she is abroad, and don't make your student feel bad for that.
  • Talk with parents whose children have previously studied abroad and try to prepare for the emotions they say they experienced.
Packing: Help your student with what to bring with him or her overseas. Pack light, but also wisely.
  • Pack a few extra photos of your student in case he or she needs to get a new passport.
  • Have your student walk around with packed bags to make sure he or she will be able to handle it once he or she leaves the house. Your child may be lugging that suitcase around for quite a while during his or her travels.
  • If your student wears glasses, get him or her an extra pair or two to take with, particularly if they are prescription lenses.
  • If your student is taking any prescription medications, be sure to send him or her overseas with an extra supply and a copy of the prescription. Try to obtain a note from the doctor regarding your child's need for the medication, in case of any issues during the customs process.
Communication: Keeping in touch with your student while he or she is studying overseas is important for both of you.
  • Establish a plan of communication with your student prior to departure. It is important to realize that this plan may need to be altered once your child has settled into a study abroad routine.
  • Blogs are an inexpensive way in which to keep in touch. Encourage your child to start a blog while away so that you (and any other family members or friends) can follow along with the adventures. You may consider starting your own blog to keep your student current on what is going on back home.
  • Your child's cell phone will only work overseas if you have T-Mobile, AT&T or Alltel, and only if you contact the service provider and get them to open up the phone for international roaming, which also means you'll have to pay exorbitant international roaming charges. So devise another way of keeping in touch by phone. Prepaid international calling cards are a good alternative, as is Skype.
  • Students and parents should both have a set of emergency contacts with them at all times, including contacts from the school and program.
Finances: Teaching your student responsible ways with which to handle his or her finances is crucial and can begin even before departure.
  • Have your child manage some money on his or her own before departing.
  • Devise a financial plan with your child for the time he or she will be abroad. Write down the expenses you expect your child to have and make a column for "needs" and a column for "wants."
  • Consult the Budget Sheets or Program Brochure for program- specific cost information. 
  • Consider the exchange rate of the host country as well as the cost of living in the city where your child will be living. 
  • Please review the Scholarships page for additional information on outside sources of funding. 
  • Review the Financial Aid page for additional information on how Financial Aid can or cannot be applied to study abroad. 
  • Speak with your Financial Aid Advisor at SJU. 
  • To limit spending and avoid lost money, teach your son or daughter to take money out of the ATM a little at a time. For example, on Mondays, have them take out the cash they will need for each week.
Food: One of the most interesting differences between countries is the cuisine, and you will want to make sure that your student eats well while overseas.
  • Tell your student to stick to the busy restaurants, as eating at these is likely safer than at less popular restaurants.
  • Students should know to check for pasteurization when eating dairy products, as not all countries practice this process in the way they do in the United States.
  • Freshly cooked foods are the best bet because they are less likely to contain contaminants.
  • Although they may be legally permitted to drink abroad (though it is still a violation of SJU Community Standards if the student is under 21), students should be advised to drink with great care while studying abroad. Alcohol can mix with trouble overseas the same way it can at home.
  • Review the Special Diets Abroad resource
Medical Insurance: Medical Insurance requirements and provisions vary greatly by study abroad program. For more detailed information, please review our the Insurance page of our website.

Safety: This is the largest concern for most parents of students studying abroad. Study abroad tragedies are few and far between, but educate your student on ways to stay safe in another country.
  • Students must be encouraged to cultivate and utilize their "street smarts" while studying abroad. Advise them to take the precautions they take at home, as well as new ones. Tell them to avoid political demonstrations, to only take official taxis and to protect their passport at all times.
  • Establish emergency procedures with your student prior to departure. Be sure to create a list of emergency contacts.
  • Use the State Department's website to stay current on safety issues in specific countries.
  • Review the Student Safety Abroad page of our website for more information and advice.
DocumentationBelow you will find the information that students should leave with their parents or a family member before departure:
  • The name, address and phone number of the Center for International Programs at Saint Joseph’s University.  See our contact page for details.
  • The name and address of the program or campus abroad (if applicable).
  • Copies of:
    • bank account and credit card information, if they wish for you to access their accounts
    • social security number
    • travel documents: passport, visa, traveler’s insurance card 
    • return flight information.
PassportsIn addition to the documents above, we would recommend that at least one parent have a valid passport.  In the case of an emergency abroad you will most likely want to be at your student’s side at a moments notice.  Applying for or renewing a passport takes time.  Rather than having to worry about paperwork during an emergency, it will probably be worth the peace of mind knowing you would be able to travel internationally immediately, if necessary. For passport information, please visit:
Visas: Some countries will require a student visa for entry and stay in their country. If your student requires a visa, they will be provided with detailed information on how to obtain the visa after acceptance in to their program. This information will come directly from the Center for International Programs or directly from their study abroad program provider. 

Student Responsibility: Helping your student to enhance his or her sense of responsibility can be beneficial to the student as he or she study abroad, and in general.
  • Discuss financial, social and academic responsibility with your child. Let him or her know that much of what is expected of him or her at home will be expected of him or her abroad.
  • Encourage your student to resolve her or her own issues while abroad and step in only when necessary.
  • Have your student do the bulk of the study abroad research. This will not only empower your student, but will also teach him or her the benefit of thinking ahead and analyzing what is best for him or her as an individual.
  • Let your student know that you trust him or her to make the right decisions while studying abroad.
Additional Information:  For more information about travel planning and tips, see our Resources page.  

Adapted from

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