Parents' FAQs: Prior to Student Departure
Why should my son/daughter study abroad? How can it enrich his/her education?
The benefits of study abroad range from a deeper knowledge of self to invaluable career skills. Study abroad will introduce your child to the emerging global world. It will prepare him/her with the practical experience and intercultural skills that many employers look for in today’s job market: personal maturity, risk-taking, innovativeness, adaptability, and confidence. In other words, your child will gain career-preparedness with the personal capacity to work in a global arena.
Study abroad will also help your son/daughter take leaps in his/her intellectual and social development. It will foster independence, and create a strong national and world identity. S/he will gain confidence for overcoming any and all obstacles that stand in the way, and in overcoming these obstacles, he/she will augment his/her global, national, and personal views.
Can I afford to help my son/daughter pay for the study abroad program?
Study Abroad programs range widely in price. Program fees depend on program selection and which country/city your son/daughter chooses. For example, some sites in certain cities may be more expensive than other cities in the same country, or some programs may be more expensive than others overall.
However, many students qualify for financial aid regardless of the chosen program. The good news is that if your daughter/son qualifies for financial aid, then financial aid will be recalculated for the higher cost of study abroad. For example, federal financial aid will take into account that your son/daughter will spend more money on items such as airfare, and that will be factored into the overall financial aid award.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it helps to compare the cost vs. the experience gained. You will never regret the amount of money that you and your child pay for the study abroad experience. The experience that your son/daughter will gain abroad is priceless.
Will my son/daughter be safe while abroad?
Of course parents are often concerned about their children’s safety while abroad. It helps to make this realization: the U.S. is among those countries with the highest number of citizens with private gun ownership and also has amongst the highest number of deaths from guns. In addition, the drug and alcohol abuse in America is among the highest in the world. Furthermore, the media often over-sensationalize political upheavals, strife, and natural disasters abroad.
Study Abroad programs and/or offices (such as the MTU Study Abroad Office) cannot guarantee the safety of your child, and neither can they monitor the decisions that your child makes while abroad. Often, U.S. norms of due process, rights, and equality are not enforced in the host country. The Study Abroad Office realizes its responsibility of remaining in contact with program administrators, resident directors, and any other staff who are in touch with students abroad, and closely observes the U.S. Department of State safety updates.
Participants need to know and obey the laws of the host country because they are subject to the laws of that country regardless of their own rights as Americans. American civil rights and legal procedures are not protected once Americans leave their homeland. Prison conditions may be sub-standard and pre-trial bail may be different and/or non-existent in the host country.
The Embassy or Consulate in the host country can provide only limited kinds of assistance to Americans. They cannot bail a person out of jail or convince officials to bend laws for Americans in the host country.
Parents may ask the Study Abroad Office for health information of the host country, or they can get information at www.tripprep.com. Most study abroad sites have good medical access, and the U.S. Embassy can provide students with a list of English-speaking doctors. Common ailments include diarrhea, Hepatitis A, Malaria, and Tetanus.
Students on exchange must avoid any involvement with illegal drugs. Many drug laws in foreign countries are severe. Students have been jailed for possessing only three grams (less than 1/10 of an ounce) of marijuana, and the average sentence for drug use worldwide is 7 years.
Which documents should my child take with them on their study abroad program?
Students will want to take a variety of documents with them: the Orientation Manual , passport with appropriate visa stamp, proof of insurance, and any necessary legal documents or medical records. Students should also obtain all pertinent addresses and phone numbers and should take them in their carry-on luggage (for addresses, phone numbers, or directions needed upon immediate arrival overseas).
Parents may want to consider obtaining a passport or updating their existing passport at the same time as their son/daughter applies for or updates their passport. This way, if there is an emergency, the parent can travel abroad quickly because he/she already has a current passport.