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While a student’s major and the semester during which they choose to go abroad play an important role in determining what courses they can take while overseas, the opportunity exists for students to take language immersion classes, electives classes, and/or classes that count towards their liberal arts core or major-related requirements. Many students have also started to complete their required internship experience abroad. For more information on internships abroad, please visit our internship programs page.
The staff at the Center for Global Education does their best to help meet students’ academic needs. However, in order for us to help students do so, students must invest in the planning process in order to find the study abroad experience that is right for them.
Many parents worry about the safety of their study away students. Unfortunately, no one can guarantee a student’s safety on his/her home campus, nor while abroad. Common sense is perhaps the most powerful weapon against safety threats while abroad. For example, when walking at night or going to bars or clubs, it’s very important that students go in pairs or groups. Different alcohol laws may also become a safety issue if moderation is not practiced, so it is absolutely essential that if students chose to drink alcohol, they do so responsibly. Speaking the local language and avoiding obviously American brand logos may also serve as a safeguard against pick pocketing by helping students to blend in with the locals. The most important thing is to be alert and aware of one’s surroundings.
As part of your student’s study abroad program, he or she will be enrolled by Marymount’s Center for Global Education in a HTH Worldwide health insurance plan, as well as Travel Guard travel insurance, which provides service and protection in the event your student becomes ill or injured during the program.
The US Department of State Consular Affairs Website includes up to date information about country-specific safety concerns, as well as a new page devoted specifically to students abroad. Information about traveler’s health and vaccinations can be found at the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The frequency with which you contact your student will depend entirely on you and your student’s preferences. Skype is a commonly used method of communication between study abroad students and their loved ones. Computer-to-computer calls are free and purchasing Skype credit allows one to make calls from a computer or mobile device to a landline. Emails, Facebook, and even good old fashioned letters are also wonderful ways to stay in touch.
You may wish to establish a “communications plan” so that you and your student know when and how often you want to communicate with one another while they are abroad.
An important aspect of the study abroad process is for students to find the balance between staying in touch with their loved ones at home, and fully investing in their experience abroad. The downside of the easy communication is that it can be overused. That being said, Students should utilize communication resources without allowing them to detract from their study abroad experience.
Adjusting to an unfamiliar culture and environment can lead to culture shock. The degree to which study away students experience culture shock varies greatly, and depends on factors such as a student’s study away location, personality, and specific circumstances.
Furthermore, there are many stages of culture shock, and they can occur both abroad and upon returning home. We often refer to the “Culture Shock W”, as illustrated in the graphic below, to explain the ups and downs of culture shock.
Parents and loved ones play an instrumental role, particularly in the culture shock and reentry shock phases. Confronted with a culture differences, students may begin to feel homesick and may feel frustrated with the host country’s culture. Most students then adjust and thrive in their host country.
The process often occurs in reverse upon a students’ reentry to the United States. Initially, they may be thrilled to be home, but later may begin to feel sad, frustrated, withdrawn, and “homesick” for their study abroad life. Parents and loved ones can support students during this process by listening to them, helping to remind them that what they are experiencing is normal, and by encouraging them to stay in touch with their friends from abroad and to find ways to stay connected to their host culture and language. Returning home does not mean losing or “packing up” study away experience. Rather, it represents a wonderful opportunity to integrate the knowledge, skills, and experiences gained abroad in your life at home!
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