Support for Your Student While Abroad
While abroad, the UC Study Center and/or host institution is a first point of contact for all matters.
The first time that your student will encounter UCEAP Study Center representatives will be during the on-site orientation provided by the Study Center and the host institution (when applicable) immediately after arrival.
Among many other tasks, the Study Center and/or partner institution local staffs are there for to:
- provide support
- advise on academic matters, program logistics, and personal issues
- provide information on cultural activities
- help with on-site emergencies
- guide on UCEAP insurance matters
- advise on the medical referral process
Study Center and/or partner institution contact information is listed in the UCEAP Program Guide. If you need more information, contact the UCEAP Systemwide Office or visit the website.
Adjusting to a new environment is not easy. Your student’s first weeks may be challenging, as constant adjustments are required in dealing with a different academic structure, housing, culture, language, and political and cultural environment, and new colleagues and friends. His/her values may be challenged or he/she may experience prejudices while abroad. Your student needs to learn about and respect local customs and cultures. Attitudes and behaviors accepted in the U.S. may be offensive or even illegal in other countries. The more your student knows before departure from the U.S., the easier his/her adjustment will be.
To succeed in a new environment, he or she will need to be resourceful, broad-minded, willing to learn from mistakes, and determined to stay. Encourage your student to be patient, to resolve his or her own issues, to have a sense of humor, to learn from the new culture, and to shed expectations influenced by their home culture.
If at any time, you feel that your student is facing an unsafe situation or is involved in any type of personal emergency, contact the UCEAP Systemwide Office immediately.
Communicating with Your Student While Abroad
While abroad, some students may create anxiety at home when they do not communicate with parents or other important contacts. Access to e-mail abroad may not always be as readily available as it is in the U.S., even in parts of Western Europe where you would expect access to be comparable. Communication technologies have changed dramatically over the years. While such changes have provided extraordinary benefits, they can also pose challenges when your student cannot be reached because of a busy schedule abroad.
- In the U.S. because of Skype, Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, Smart phones, cell phones, etc., you may have the ability to stay connected with your child 24/7; however, be aware that this may change while your student is abroad.
- Prepare to have less frequent communication with your student. Less frequent communication does not mean less quality communication.
- Make sure that you have necessary emergency contact information and your student’s contact information abroad before he/she departs.
- Establish a communication plan with your student.
This plan may need to be altered once your student has settled into a routine.
- Discuss alternate contacts for your student when he or she cannot reach you. Decide on a workable plan that outlines when and how your student will contact you to confirm safe arrival in the host country, keep you informed of independent travel plans during their term abroad, etc.
- The first predictable element of a large-scale crisis is that communication will become impacted in any country, including advanced communications systems. Have an accurate and redundant communication plan with your student. Always have a secondary way of communicating. Students and parents should both have a list of emergency contacts with them at all times, including contacts at the UCEAP Systemwide Office and on site, the student’s address while abroad, independent travel dates, etc.
- Satellite phones are a more expensive option for students studying abroad.
Both the actual handset and the service time are substantially more expensive than a cell phone. Calling a satellite phone from a land line or cell phone is extremely expensive, although this doesn’t cost the owner of the satellite phone. If you want to have reliable communications in remote areas or bypass potential communications interference from local governments, a satellite phone is the way to go. You must have an external antenna to use a satellite phone indoors. An additional problem with satellite phones is that their networks typically operate near or at their capacity even under normal conditions. There is not a lot of extra capacity in the network.
- Telephone, e-mail, Skype, prepaid telephone cards, instant messaging, blogs, etc. are some of the communication methods that you can use.
- If you use Skype, know your student’s screen name and the time difference.