Information for Parents
Education Abroad staff in the International Programs Office serve as a resource for parents and other family members of a student considering, currently taking part in, or just returning from an international experience. If you have any questions that are not addressed in this section, please do not hesitate to contact us at 208-885-7870 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Study Abroad programs range widely in price. Program fees depend on program selection and which country/city your child 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.
U of I students may qualify for financial aid regardless of the chosen program. The good news is that if your child qualifies for financial aid for attending U of I, then financial aid will be re-evaluated for the study abroad experience and in many cases increase to meet a higher cost study abroad program. For example, federal financial aid will take into account that your child may spend more money on items such as airfare and that will be factored into the overall financial aid award. It is best to check with the Financial Aid Office if specific U of I or state scholarships may or may not be transferable for study abroad.
Additionally, there are many study abroad scholarships available for students who are eligible. One such scholarship, for which all eligible U of I study abroad students are automatically considered, is the International Experience Grant. The IEG awards over $57,000 per year to U of I undergraduate study abroad students. For more details about the various scholarships for which your child might be eligible, please check out our Financing Your International Experience section or contact Education Abroad in the International Programs Office.
The Student’s Accounts Office (Cashier) may set up payment plan options for study abroad programs. This can help make the payment process easier for parents. Please note that there is a small fee to set up a payment plan, and THIS ONLY APPLIES TO FEES THAT ARE DIRECTLY BILLED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF IDAHO. You may contact email@example.com for additional details about this option. If your child has fees that are due to a different organization (this is very common) you will need to contact this outside organization directly to arrange payment details.
Finally, it helps to compare the cost vs. the experience gained, also known as the value of the program. While cost is and should be a significant consideration in program selection, please do not forget to also include the quality and impact of the experience when deciding the right program for your child.
The benefits of study abroad range from a deeper knowledge of self to invaluable career skills. Study abroad may introduce your child to the emerging global world. It will prepare them 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 an additional capacity to navigate the global marketplace.
Study abroad may also help your child take leaps in their intellectual and social development. It will foster independence and may create both a strong national and world identity. They may gain confidence for overcoming any and all obstacles that stand in the way, and in overcoming these obstacles, they may augment their global, national, and personal views.
Parents are often (understandably) concerned about their children’s safety while abroad. It helps to realize: the U.S. has inherent dangers in the exact same way that traveling abroad does. Furthermore, media outlets focus on the negative and sometimes over-sensationalize political upheavals, strife, and natural disasters abroad. You can rest more easily knowing that our number one priority is doing everything in our power to help your child have a safe and successful experience abroad, and that we will not send any students to areas of the world that we consider inherently unsafe.
While every effort it made to keep your child safe it is also important to understand that study abroad programs and/or university offices (such as the U of I Education 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 norms in the host country. Education Abroad Office remains 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. Ultimately, however, your child is subject to the laws of the country where they are studying, and the primary responsibility in keeping your child safe lies with them.
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 rights as Americans. American civil rights and legal procedures are not protected once Americans leave the United States. Prison conditions may be sub-standard and pre-trial bail may be different and/or non-existent in the host country. Other protections that Americans often take for granted, like the prohibition on being prosecuted for the same crime twice are often non-existent in other judicial systems.
The Embassy and/or Consulate(s) in the host country can provide only limited kinds of assistance to Americans, but that being said they are an excellent resource in the case of an emergency involving American citizens while traveling.
Students are given information about health issues specific to their respective host countries, and are encouraged to review travel information from the Centers for Disease Control and they can also get information at TripPrep. Most study abroad sites have good medical access, and the U.S. Embassy can provide students with a list of English-speaking doctors as well as their proximity to the program site.
Away From Home
In some countries and with some programs, students may acquire a bank account in the host country. This may facilitate any money transfers that students may need (wire transfers, American Express money orders, foreign currency drafts, or cashier’s checks). Be aware that wire transfers can be very expensive, and are only a good option for sending large amounts of money. One easy and inexpensive way to send smaller amounts of money to your son/daughter is to open a joint checking account in the U.S. Parents can then deposit money into the account while their son/daughter(who has a debit card tied to the account) can withdraw the money from abroad. This is a good option for most countries, but it is wise to verify with your bank that this is possible before going abroad. Students should also be equipped with an emergency credit card, if possible, while abroad. This may ensure that they may have money for emergencies such as health issues.
Above all, parents will need to prepare themselves for the lack of communication that they will face while their child is abroad, especially in the beginning of the program. Wireless network and WiFi access are usually available but the quality of such connections depends on the infrastructure in the host country. There may be new barriers of both time and space; do not worry if there is a gap in communication frequency. This is normal. Letters are slow, the phone is expensive, time zones can be challenging and, (in some countries) WiFi access can take significant effort to access.
Culture shock can be described as the physical and emotional discomfort people suffer when living in a culture different from their native culture. Read more details about culture shock and overcoming it.
Returned From Abroad
Students who study abroad for a semester are registered at the University of Idaho for 12 credit hours in most situations, regardless of how many credits they actually take while abroad. This 12-credit "placeholder" registration ensures that the student is registered as a full-time student at the University of Idaho. When Education Abroad receives the transcript or grade report from the host institution, the student’s U of I registration will be changed to reflect the actual credits received. This will happen after the student returns from abroad and can take some time to receive the transcript from abroad. If your child has questions about their transcript, contact the Education Abroad staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a common problem for parents whose children go on a year-long study abroad program, and fortunately, it can usually be easily solved. If you or your accountant needs to show additional detail for tax purposes, the Education Abroad staff in the U of I International Programs Office or appropriate program provider will do everything in their power to assist you. We may be able to provide an invoice reflecting the appropriate costs/payments, or provide other helpful services.
Your child is finally home but something is different. You may not understand their reactions, or why they seem irritable or negative towards you or your home culture. After all, after a summer, semester, or year abroad, shouldn’t your child be excited to see you?
If this is the case, your child may be experiencing reverse culture shock. They may feel out of touch with home, as they are now accustomed to the lifestyle abroad. Reverse culture shock is normal and does dissipate with time. Read more about Reverse Culture Shock.