Parents & Families | University of Portland

Parents & Families

What does the study abroad process look like for students and their families? 

Here is an overview of what you can expect.

Researching Study Abroad Options & Applying Phase (during fall semester)


  • Student: Follow the UP Study Abroad Instagram to get updates and learn more (See student IG Stories takeovers saved on our profile!) @UPStudyAbroad. Start looking at program information on study abroad website.


  • Student: Applications are now open for the following year! Attend Study Abroad fair event, research program options.
  • Family: Support your student as they get adjusted to campus, ask if they are interested in study abroad. Let them take the lead exploring their options and navigating the start of the semester.


  • Student: Meet with Study Abroad staff member or student assistant to discuss program interests. Meet with a Program Counselor to discuss academics. Start application. Look into which study abroad scholarships you might be eligible for!
  • Family: Start conversation with student about study abroad. Have your student share cost/finances/scholarship information with you. Your student should be the one to take the initiative, research program options, and look for answers to the questions family members may have.


  • Student: Complete application by the deadline (the exact date of the deadline can vary from year to year). Start researching and applying for study abroad scholarships, talk with a Financial Aid Office staff member if you have questions.
  • Family: Check in with your student, see how they're doing. Are they applying for a study abroad program? Have they been researching cost & scholarships?


  • Student: Apply for a passport/renew passport, if needed. Celebrate completing finals! 
  • Family: See how your student is doing with the passport application process (if applicable). Celebrate the completed semester! It is your student's responsibility to keep you informed about their interest in study abroad, and to provide you with the relevant details - if you have questions about the study abroad program they applied for, your student should be the one to find the answers. If you are together over winter break, this is a great time for them to share with you what they have learned and answer your questions.

Post-Acceptance Decision 

  • Student: Will receive acceptance information, pre-departure handbook, and budgeting template. Pay $250 confirmation deposit to UP Student Account. Share all relevant details with family. See action items to complete in the study abroad portal. 
  • Family: Have student share financial information they have received with you. Support if needed paying the $250 confirmation deposit.

Pre-Departure: Preparing to study abroad, the semester before your student goes

Early semester

  • Student: Attend pre-departure meetings and complete tasks in study abroad portal. Learn about visa process (if applicable). Do some budgeting/finances planning if you haven't already (meet with Financial Aid Office staff and use budget template provided by Study Abroad Office)
  • Family: Check in with student, ask them any questions you have. Ask your student about their study abroad budgeting planning, and have them share cost/scholarship details with you. Have them let you if they need to apply for a visa for their host country or not, and if that process requires travel within the U.S. to apply at a Consulate or visa processing center.


  • Student: Prepare visa application paperwork and apply for visa (if applicable, each host country is different, apply roughly 2-3+ months before departure – fall students would apply over summer) Receive information about booking flights and arrival, research flight options and book flight ONLY once having confirmed exact program dates and any arrival information. Student needs to take the lead researching/planning to book a flight.
  • Family: talk with student about flights, let them be the one to research flight options and share with you which flight itineraries they have found (do not just do this for them; it is a good learning opportunity for your student to research flights and know how to book plane tickets, even if you are the one planning to pay for the flight). Some visa processes might need financial information from you, so see how your student is doing preparing paperwork for their visa application (if necessary, varies based on host country) and have them let you know if they need anything from you. 

Later in the Semester

  • Student: Receive more information about housing, arrival, etc. Make a plan with family about communication abroad.
  • Family: Have student share arrival/housing information. Have a conversation about communication while your student is abroad – how often do you plan to check in? What tools do you want to use? (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Skype, etc. For iPhone users, iMessage and FaceTime work just the same) 

While Abroad

It is normal for students to experience lots of different emotions and highs and lows while abroad. This is to be expected and is part of how they will learn and grow. Here are some possibilities of what your student might experience and how you can best support them. 

  • Shortly after arrival - Students could experience excitement, overwhelm, anxiety, and exhaustion particularly in their first weeks abroad. 
  • It can be common for students to find their first weeks abroad to be difficult, adjusting to a new schedule, navigating a new environment, etc. Encourage your student to rest, have plenty of water, and give themselves some time to get to know the city before deciding to go out late. Let them figure things out and learn how to do new things.
  • Try to find a balance between keeping in touch with your student, but also allowing them space to get to know their host community. (For example, maybe scheduling a recurring time to catch up just once a week or so).
  • When communicating with your student -Remember to listen fully and ask open-ended questions. 
  • When moments are difficult, encourage your student to think about this time as an opportunity for learning, discovery and growth.
  • Listen to your student’s concerns. Let them know you have confidence in them, and you know they are capable of navigating this new environment and figuring things out. Validate their feelings – it is normal and okay to feel highs and lows while abroad.  

Coming Home 

Let your student know you are proud of them for challenging themself to live in a different cultural setting! Celebrate all that they learned, and how much they have grown through this experience. Your student will most likely have many, many stories from their time away. Make space to listen and hear what they have to say. When your student is transitioning back home, and back to campus at UP, they may find that others may not want to actually hear about their time abroad except for “Yeah, it was great!”. Students will need time to process all of the experiences they had abroad, and time to understand how they have grown, changed, and matured. 

students in Salzburg

In an increasingly global world, knowledge and experience navigating international interactions are becoming more and more essential to the well-rounded individuals that UP sees in its graduates. We invite all students to take on the challenge of living abroad, to expand their worldview and broaden their understanding of the world. If your student is considering studying abroad, he or she has already made an important step on that journey, and your support and guidance will be invaluable.


Why do students study abroad?

  • Several studies show that the best way to improve proficiency in a second language is by studying in an environment where you have to use it.
  • Living abroad helps students develop a clearer sense of self, as well as confidence, maturity, and self-worth by navigating the challenges of living in a new environment.
  • Today's employers are increasingly mindful of the need for employees who have international experience since world markets and business are fully global endeavors.
    • Recent graduates who studied abroad are twice as likely to get hired as their peers
    • Study abroad alumni are frequently more satisfied with their careers
  •  International educational experiences in other countries bring people of different groups together to build amity and mutual understanding.

The support that parents & families provide to our students throughout their time at UP is invaluable, and this is especially true when students are studying abroad. As we recognize that parents & families are also a part of the study abroad experience, please utilize the following resources for more information. 


Our office in BC 114 is open Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.