Wondering what study abroad is all about? Check out our Parent Handbook
A Guide to Study Abroad!
Learning About the Study Abroad Experience
Students considering an education abroad experience should attend one of the Study Abroad Information Sessions offered throughout the fall semester. At these Information Sessions students listen to and ask questions of the Study Abroad Coordinator about how to select a study abroad program that complements their academic goals and personal needs.
Research has shown that students who study abroad learn skills such as flexibility, resourcefulness, creativity, independence, self-organization, and social competence. After returning from a study abroad experience, students are more committed to their studies and typically achieve higher grades than prior to their international experience.
It is important to set up a support team for each student as s/he begins to prepare for this life changing experience. Central to this team of academic advisors, faculty members, financial aid officer (when appropriate), and the Center for International Studies staff is the parent. Your enthusiasm and support will help smooth the way for a successful international experience.
What You Can Do as the Parent of a Prospective Study Abroad Student
It’s never too early to start planning a Junior semester or year abroad, and applications for study abroad approval are due December 1st of Sophomore year, making Freshman spring and summer the best times to begin discussing the possibility of study abroad with your son or daughter.
Your student may already be a seasoned world traveler, or may have never left the U.S. Either way, the prospect of spending 4 to 9 months in another part of the world can be nerve-wracking for parents and students alike. Below are the top three recommendations for making the study abroad process rewarding and anxiety-free:
- Start Research Early
Providence College currently recognizes over 200 study abroad programs in 47 different countries—that’s a lot to choose from! Some majors have specific lists from which they must choose, while other majors choose from the comprehensive geographic list. Instead of getting hung up on a particular city or country, encourage your student to consider things like whether or not language study is important to them, if they’d rather live in an apartment, dorm, or home stay, and if they prefer urban or rural environments. All of the recognized program options can be found by selecting View Programs and Apply for Study Abroad on our Study Abroad homepage.
With the multitude of activities and deadlines students juggle on a daily basis, it is easy for them to “forget” to mention their study abroad plans to mom and dad. Prior to the start of Sophomore year ask your student how they feel about the prospect of spending a semester or year in another part of the world. Encourage them to discuss their ideas, fears, and questions openly with you. Once Sophomore year has begun, ask if they are on track for submitting a completed application by the December 1st deadline, and whether or not they have met with a Center for International Studies Advisor, or attended an information session.
- Encourage Independence
The pre-departure processes we use, from early inquiry to the final orientation prior to departure, are designed intentionally to promote independence and self-reliance in students—skills that will be necessary while they are abroad! Students are given ample opportunity to learn about study abroad through information sessions, fairs, and individual advising at the CIS. We always welcome parent inquiries, but you should allow and encourage your student to gather all of the information by him/herself and share it with you directly. This will not only ensure your student has all the necessary knowledge, but will best prepare them for leaving their cultural comfort zone and making the most of their experience abroad.
Semester or Academic Year:
The minimum cumulative grade point average (CGPA) requirements differ for each program, but a student must have a minimum CGPA 2.75 in order to be eligible for approval to participate in any study abroad program.
Students applying to study abroad will need to declare a major prior to the December 1st application deadline.
No student will be considered for the study abroad program whose college record reflects any serious disciplinary action or probationary period up to the time of departure.
All financial obligations to Providence College must be met. Any student who is indebted to the College will need to arrange payment with the Bursar’s Office in order to be approved for participation in a study abroad program.
Students must have at least junior standing in order to study abroad for a semester or academic year.
Students may also apply for approval to study abroad for the fall semester of the Senior year, in lieu of the Junior year.
In order to balance the number of students intending to study abroad across the academic year, the College reserves the right to restrict the numbers of students approved to study abroad in any one semester.
No student will be considered for summer study abroad whose college record reflects any serious disciplinary action or probationary period up to the time of departure.
There is no Providence College mandated minimum GPA requirement for summer study abroad. However all study abroad programs have unique academic requirements, and it is the students responsibility to ensure s/he meets such stated requirements.
Note: Providence College reserves the right to approve or disapprove various study abroad programs based upon it assessment of curriculum, faculty, structure and compatibility with the educational goals of study abroad as defines by Providence College. When students are given PC approval to apply to programs, no assurance of acceptance by those programs is implied. Furthermore, the student must assume responsibility for all financial arrangements related to these programs.
It depends! Students take a variety of courses abroad, which can meet curriculum requirements for their major, minor, core, and general elective courses. Students may also participate in one of our popular internship programs, which consist of a 3-credit internship in the field of their interest in addition to 4 content courses related to the country’s history, culture, language, and politics.
The Center for International Studies (CIS) at Providence College consists of four full-time staff members and student Peer Advisors who have already studied abroad. The primary role of the CIS is to advise students in choosing an appropriate program based on their interests and academic needs, approve student applications, monitor eligibility requirements, coordinate course approval and credit transfer, and keep students appraised of College policy as it relates to study abroad. It is important to remember that the CIS does not issue student visas for other countries, purchase plane tickets, or coordinate travel to and from the countries.
“Program provider” is the term used to refer to the school or organization that runs a particular study abroad program. A program provider may be another university (like Boston University) or a private organization specializing in running study abroad programs (Like the Center for International Education and Exchange – CIEE). In every case there will be an office in the U.S. that will assist your student prior to departure, and an office with English-speaking native staff in the country in which your student is studying who will provide orientation activities and have staff on-call 24/7 in the event of an emergency. Every program recognized by the CIS has been carefully reviewed by staff and faculty and is of the highest quality.
The programs recognized by Providence College are known in the industry to be of very high quality, with highly trained staff, excellent academic resources, and significant emergency preparedness. Students may not go to countries that have been issued a State Department Travel Warning for U.S. citizens. Both before departure during the mandatory Providence College Pre-Departure Orientation, and upon arrival with the local program staff, students will be given information about making good choices, appropriate decisions based on cultural norms, and informed about local laws. As with any city in the U.S., student safety can never be guaranteed. Students will be given the resources they need to make good choices, and will have 24/7 access to on-site staff in case of emergency while they are abroad. The programs recognized by Providence College have the necessary resources to evacuate students in the event of a natural disaster, terrorism, or political unrest.
PC observes U.S. State Department Travel Warnings and CDC Travel Health Warnings with respect to all PC short-term study abroad and service programs. For semester study abroad, PC will not approve students going on programs that take place in countries for which a U.S. State Department Travel Warning or CDC Travel Health Warning has been issued. To read more about PC’s Travel and Study Abroad Safety Policy, click here.
Symptoms of culture shock manifest themselves subtly as opposed to feeling like actual “shock.” Culture shock can feel like homesickness, frustration, joy, anxiety, and general grumpiness. Students may have physical or emotional reactions while adjusting to the host culture, such as weight loss or gain, preoccupation with food or cleanliness, or atypical moodiness. This is a normal, and temporary, phenomenon. Students may bottle up their stress during the day and then “unload” over the phone to their parents in the form of yelling or crying. Some examples of culture shock could include:
- a student who arrives overseas and calls his parent to say he is anxious and cannot deal with the homesickness he is experiencing. He says he is so unhappy that he wants to book a flight back home.
- a student who had initially loved her new location is starting to complain about the stresses and inconveniences of life abroad.
- a student who does not want to leave his bedroom, preferring to message friends from home rather than explore his new surroundings or interact with people in his new environment.
These are normal reactions to the anxiety students experience when moving to a new environment. As a parent, we encourage your responses to remain calm and sympathetic. Here are other ways to help your student:
- Make a communication plan or revise one as necessary so that you and your student agree on how often you should communicate. Although it may be difficult, we encourage students and their families to limit their communication to no more than 2-3 times a week. Constant communication with people from home slows down the acculturation process and can actually make homesickness worse. The best way for students to adapt to their new environment is to get involved with their program and new host country, rather than spending a lot of time on Facebook and Skype.
- Remind your student that cultural adjustment takes time and that they should be patient.
- Recommend that your student involve him or herself in activities in the host country. Your student may be interested in volunteering, taking part in a language exchange with a local student, joining an intramural sports team, or signing up for a local field trip with his or her study abroad provider.
- Encourage your student to follow her ambitions and continue her plans for the future. Remind the student about the reasons she wanted to go abroad and what it was that she hoped to accomplish.
For most students, these symptoms go away on their own as they feel more settled. If you suspect your student requires assistance with coping with culture shock, or are concerned that his or her mental health indicates a serious problem, please encourage him or her to discuss this with the on-site program staff, who are experienced in assisting American students. You may also contact the CIS in these cases to receive assistance in contacting the on-site program staff to assess the situation.
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