Parents & Families

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

Here is an overview of what you can likely expect. 

Exploration / Application Phase – Learning about study abroad program options, applying – Happens during fall semester 

September 

  • Student: attend Open House, start looking at information on study abroad website  
  • Family: support your student as they get adjusted to campus  

October  

  • Student: meet with Study Abroad staff member to discuss program interests (can schedule appointment on website or come to walk-up advising in the Commons on Tuesdays) and meet with a Program Counselor to discuss academics. Start application. Your student should be the one to take the initiative, research program options, and look for answers to the questions family members may have  
  • Family: start conversation with student about study abroad. Have your student share cost/finances/scholarship information with you 

November 

  • Student: Complete application by November 18th deadline (no applications accepted past this point). Apply for study abroad scholarships  
  • Family: Check in with your student, see how they're doing with the study abroad process – did they submit an application? Are they applying for scholarships? 

December  

  • Student: Apply for a passport. Celebrate finishing the semester! 
  • Family: See how your student is doing with the passport application process, support if needed 

Post-Acceptance Decision 

  • Student: Receive acceptance information, pre-departure handbook, and budgeting template. Pay $250 confirmation deposit to UP Student Account. Share information with family. See action items to complete in the Forms section of the study abroad portal. 
  • Family: Have student share information they received (handbook, budget template, etc.). Support if needed paying confirmation deposit. Ask your student if you have questions about their study abroad program and next steps. 

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)  
  • Family: Check in with student, ask them any questions you have. 

Mid-Semester  

  • Student: prepare visa application paperwork and apply for visa (if applicable, each host country is different, apply typically 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. 
  • Family: talk with student about flights, have them research flight options and book flights together alongside them (try not to just do this for them; it is a good learning opportunity for your student to research flights and know how to book plane tickets). 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 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 time to catch up 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. Consider these benefits of studying 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.
  •  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. 

Questions?
503.943.7857, studyabroad@up.edu

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