Studying abroad will almost certainly be a life-changing experience and a highlight in your son or daughter’s educational experience. Study abroad can transform a student into a global thinker with international perspectives- which will certainly be an advantage prospective employers in a wide variety of fields.
Here are some suggestions for helping your student with preparations and with maximizing the impact of the study abroad experience.
Make sure your student understands what policies apply to him or her while abroad. Your student will attend the mandatory pre-departure orientations organized by the Office of International Academic Initiatives, with information about credit, enrollment status, financial aid, study abroad-related fees and services the school will provide while abroad, course load, changes to academic programs, grade reporting, fees and refunds. Parents are welcome to attend the pre-departure orientation meetings as well.
Your son or daughter will need to check that his or her passport is valid at least six months beyond end of stay. Depending on the length of stay and citizenship, a visa may be required. Parents should also have a valid passport in case of emergency.
Health and Safety:
One pre-departure orientation meeting will be devoted to health and safety with detailed information about the mandatory GeoBlue insurance policy. Please refer to Montclair State University’s insurance page for a full description of the study abroad GeoBlue insurance that is required for all students.
Parents are welcome to attend the pre-departure orientation as well as students.
Before departure, it’s a good idea to have a general physical and dental exam or gynecological checkup. Make sure he or she packs a complete medical record and a typed copy of any prescriptions needed, in their generic form rather than by brand name. Ask your doctor how best to handle routine prescription medications. It is always a good idea to be up-to-date with immunizations, including a tetanus shot. Please refer to the CDC and the U.S. Department of State for further information on recommended or required inoculations specific to your student’s host country.
Students on plans other than the University contracted Aetna health insurance should check with their provider prior to departure to determine whether they have coverage while abroad. If not, students are encouraged to purchase an overseas health insurance policy.
Decide with your son or daughter how to access money for both everyday financial needs and emergencies. Research the most practical method for the destination. Ask your bank how (or if) its ATM card will function abroad and what extra fees there might be. A personal credit card with cash advances may also make sense. It may be necessary to make arrangements to pay any monthly bills and, if necessary, to file your son or daughter’s income taxes.
Unless the student is traveling on a group flight in a faculty-led program, research travel costs and help book flights. Check airline regulations regarding the type and size of luggage that can be carried. Be aware of any restrictions the tickets you purchase may have (such as a change policy).
Make sure you have a telephone number where you can reach your student and know the times of day when he or she is most likely to be there. Contact your phone service provider to arrange for international calling, research internet phone options, or learn the most inexpensive way to call collect or wirelessly from the destination country. You may be able to select an international plan that has reduced calling rates to that particular country to minimize costs of calling from home. You may wish to set up a regular schedule for e-mailing, instant messaging (WhatsApp) or Skype.
Make sure you will be informed if your student runs into difficulty overseas. Since students are almost always adults (over 18 years of age), you will not receive that information unless you are designated as his or her emergency contact. Discuss how you will handle any family emergencies that may arise. Make sure your student has all family telephone numbers; access codes for messages on family answering machines; phone numbers for several out-of-state relatives; and several e-mail addresses.
Back up documentation:
Gather all of the information you and your student might need while he or she is away, including:
- Contact information for the program provider (ask if they have a 24-hour emergency number)
- Contact information for the Office of International Academic Initiatives
- Doctors who have treated your child in the past
- Citizen assistance section of the embassy or consulate nearest your student’s program
- U.S. State Dept. Office of Overseas Citizen Services
- Your health insurance policy numbers and how to submit claims
- Aetna OnCall ID card
- Your student’s credit card numbers
- Your student’s passport number
- Your student’s program itinerary or calendar
We recommend keeping a “lost passport kit” both at home and with your student abroad containing:
- Two passport photos
- Official copy of his or her birth certificate
- Photocopy of passport’s photo, signature, and visa pages
You may have to help handle some things for your son or daughter while he or she is abroad, such as:
- Renewing a driver’s license
- Registering to vote or requesting an absentee ballot
- Filing income taxes
- Paying monthly credit card bills
- Preparing for the next semester at the home school (open mail from the college and remind your student)
- Registering for classes
- Selecting a housing option at Montclair State University
- Preparing forms to continue financial aid
Remember to remind your student to share as much information with you as possible throughout the process.
Addressing Concerns about Terrorism and Study Abroad:
Please visit this article by Go Overseas which addresses many concerns and fears that parents have about their child studying abroad.