The world is your classroom, so study abroad.
I am a big believer in this adage. Apparently many students agree as Study Abroad programs have become increasingly popular. When researching this topic I was amused to read not only a plethora of information about the various things to look for in a program but also some amusing blogs written by students about how to convince one’s parents to allow them to study abroad. Well, this parent is sold.
I never studied abroad but had friends that did, or who did a semester at sea program. Their stories and pictures always fascinated me. My daughter has yet to study abroad but is in the process of researching trips that work with her major. It is a daunting thought of having your child halfway across the world, but the programs offered today are hard to pass up.
Universities have their own sponsored programs but students can also choose from other studies abroad program. Tbh, study abroad programs are pricey. It is important to remember that while Florida Prepaid, and the new changes made to Bright Futures, may be used, weigh out your options as to whether you want to use these funds. The reason I bring this up is that you should consider whether the total prepaid credit hours you purchased will cover your student’s four years. If they are taking more than the 152 credit hours (many do), upper-level courses will cost more per credit hour than the lower-level credits. It may make sense to save the prepaid for those classes rather than apply it to the cost of studying abroad. You do have the option not to use the Prepaid for Summer Abroad.
Tips and guidelines for parents to use before and during your student’s experience.
Make sure your student’s passport as well as yours has a minimum of six months before expiration. You will not be allowed to leave if your passport expires in three months. Currently, the processing time for both is 6 weeks with expedited services in 3 weeks, however, the processing time is subject to change. Passports can be obtained from the Post Office or Courthouse. In the event that you need to expedite a passport or visa renewal, try Fastport Passport. They are registered with the U.S. Department of State.
Register and enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). It is free to U.S. citizens and will give them important safety information from our Embassy and help them to contact you in the event of an emergency. If they are traveling to a country that is more metropolitan with access to shops and stores have them purchase their toiletries over there. It may be worth it to purchase and share the expense with their roommates for items such as bath soap, toothpaste, shampoo, laundry detergent. Consider purchasing an unlocked phone that works on international networks. By purchasing in advance, students can add their contacts and download their apps ahead of time. Speaking of phones, it is one of the more commonly stolen items in many cities so make sure they are diligent with their phones. That means not putting them in their back pockets or on tables where anyone can walk by and grab them.
Make your child an authorized user on your credit card since it does not have any foreign transaction fees. Have them write down the international phone number for the credit card and put it in a safe place (with a copy of their passport). If their credit card is stolen, at least they can report it immediately.
Pack light. There are plenty of places they can wash their clothes and if they are traveling through Europe a backpack will make their travel experience much easier. Try the ultralight packing cubes from eBags. When booking your student’s travel, keep in mind the best time to book an international flight is typically 2-4 months before their travel date. Another tip is to check one-way tickets each way as sometimes you may actually get a better fare than the roundtrip price.
Consider purchasing student travel insurance for emergencies, which we pray they don’t need. HaveUHeard recommends Allianz Travel Insurance. If they will be traveling around and staying at hotels, HaveUHeard that students can find access to special rates through StudentUniverse? Click here for more information. Or, they can consider staying at a hostel. Hostels are not all so shabby anymore. Check out HostelWorld to see how nice (and inexpensive) some of them are.
You may want to consider having your student get Global Entry which runs approximately $100 for five years but makes getting through security so much easier. Or, have them download the Mobile Passport App which is free and helps to speed you through U.S. Customs. (officially authorized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection). They will still need their passport but it saves them time.
Download What’s App. It is an app that is available to use whenever and wherever they are at any time. They can also call you from Facebook Messenger (make sure they have wifi) or even FaceTime with you. Study Abroad can be very pricey. In addition to the cost of the program which included room and board, a prepaid metro card (may not last their entire abroad program), health insurance and some excursions, it does not include airfare, meals, additional travel (many use this opportunity to visit other countries). And, of course, any purchases they make for themselves. For suggestions on what they should bring with them, read our Study Abroad Gift Guide.