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Dear Parents and Family Members,
Congratulations to your student for deciding to study abroad, an experience that we hope will be fulfilling and transforming. And thank you for supporting your student through the planning, participation and return from their study abroad program.
DePaul University strives to provide the knowledge, skills and tools for students to gain independence, and study abroad plays an integral part of the personal and academic growth process. With this in mind, our office staff provides students support in the form of advice from study abroad advisors and peer advisors; pre-departure orientations; and referral to outside units such as DePaul’s Center for Students with Disabilities, the Office of Financial Aid and many more.
Also created especially for you is this page with frequently asked questions and information about important topics such as: academics, financing study abroad, forms and documents, health and safety, and more.If you have questions about our programs, please feel free to contact us. We hope that this upcoming adventure proves to be meaningful and enriching for all of you.
DePaul Study Abroad staff
What are the benefits of study abroad?
Proven benefits of study abroad include improved career possibilities, language skills, ability to work with people from various cultural backgrounds, and personal growth and maturity. These skills are crucial in today’s global society.
What are the different types of study abroad programs?
DePaul has term-long and short-term programs.
The duration of term-long programs can be anywhere from one quarter to an entire academic year. This could include a program where the student enrolls directly at a foreign university or a program where the student travels with other DePaul students and a DePaul professor, taking actual DePaul classes while in the country. Term-long programs can be either language intensive or not.
Short-term programs normally take place during DePaul’s winter intersession, spring break or summer. Normally with short-term programs, the student takes a class at DePaul before and after the trip, and then travels with the professor and the rest of the students in the class, incorporating elements of the class into the experience.
Will it be more beneficial for my student to travel on a longer or shorter program?
That depends entirely on what your student hopes to gain from the experience. Students looking for culture and language immersion tend to prefer longer programs, as they give the student time to adjust to their new surroundings. Normally students go with shorter programs if they are do not have space in their academic progress to leave DePaul for a full quarter or if they cannot be away from home for that length of time.
Does my student need to speak a foreign language in order to study abroad?
No. DePaul offers a number of good quality language programs, but we also offer programs in English speaking countries or short-term programs with courses offered in English If your student is traveling to a non-English speaking country and taking courses in English, he/she should still learn basic conversational skills for communication purposes.
What is culture shock? Does it really exist?
Culture shock does exist, and can be beneficial for students as it is part of the growth process. It is a cycle that begins with excitement coming from all of the new surroundings, leading to frustration, eventually ending with acceptance and adaptation to life in the new context. The cycle can definitely repeat itself. Each person’s experience with culture shock is different and the time a student spends in any certain level of the cycle depends entirely on the individual.
What kind of feelings will my student experience?
Feelings vary from student to student, but common feelings experienced by students include excitement, anxiety, frustration, homesickness and stress. These are all completely normal and frequently lead to positive experiences after adjustment.
Will my student graduate on time?
Your student will need to schedule an appointment with his/her academic advisor to go over his/her graduation requirements and classes that your student is thinking about taking while abroad. They will be able to map out a timeline to ensure that your student’s academic plan runs smoothly. Many DePaul study abroad programs offer classes that work with DePaul’s requirements for the Liberal Studies Program.
Forms and Documents
What is a visa and how does it work?
A visa is an endorsement from a certain country that allows entrance, exit and travel within the country. This can come in the form of a passport stamp or another document that describes the conditions of the visa. For some programs, students need either student visas, which allow enrollment in a university in that country, or tourist visas, which allow travel (including as part of a study abroad program). Many programs do not require visas at all.
See the program page of your student’s study abroad program for information on whether he/she needs a visa. If a visa is required, your student should work directly with the local consulate on the necessary materials unless otherwise notified by Study Abroad.
How early should my student purchase his/her plane ticket?
The earlier you purchase the plane ticket, the better deal you will receive. Some visa requirements also include a copy of a flight itinerary. Do not, however, purchase anything until your student’s participation has been confirmed. Please note that some programs arrange flights for the students and those flights are required as part of the program.
Packing and Arriving
What should my student purchase before they leave home and what should they buy upon arrival?
Traveling light is important. One rule of thumb is to only pack what you can carry (not to mention the outrageous fees for overweight baggage). Some things that are worth purchasing on site are school supplies and toiletries unless there is something very specific your student requires. Things that should be purchased before traveling include prescription medication, a converter for international outlets, a backpack, a money belt and possibly a gift for your student’s host family, depending on his/her living situation.
Is it better for my student to live in a dorm, apartment or with a host family?
Your student’s expectations for the program will wholly determine what type of living situation he/she chooses.
The advantage of a dorm is that the student will most likely be near campus with laundry facilities and/or a cafeteria. It also allows for more socialization as they will usually be housed with other international students.
In an apartment, students have the most independence out of any living situation and they usually cook for themselves.
Living with a host family is the best for a language and cultural immersion experience. Students see the daily life of a family from their host country and sometimes continue this relationship beyond the program. It is also the best option if your student hopes to become fluent in the language of the host country. Meals are often included in host family situations.
Where will my student eat?
Most study abroad programs include some type of meal outline, so you will need to look into the specific meal description of your student’s program. Outside of the meals provided by the program, students choose where to eat depending on their budget. With a little searching, one can find student discounts and student cafeterias. Another way to save money is to shop at the grocery store rather than constantly eating out.
How will I be guaranteed that my student is placed with a good host family?
Every host family is different, just like every American family is different. Because of this, your student could walk out of the program with either a positive or negative experience. Remember though, study abroad programs carefully select families to ensure participating students leave with the best possible experience. Therefore, it is safe to say that theoretically your student will be placed with the best family possible.
Your student must also be open-minded, because most problems related to host families occur out of misunderstandings between both parties. If for some reason the problem is irresolvable, most study abroad programs will accommodate a switch to a family that is a better fit for your student.
What kind of gift should my student bring to his/her host family?
Be creative! Just as your student’s host family is ready to share their culture, they want to learn about your student’s culture as well. Some good ideas could be food/candy that the host country may not have (watch out while packing things that can melt like chocolate). T-shirts are also a nice idea since they are easy to pack. Any gift with a story about your student and his/her background are best.
Health and Safety
Will my student be safe?
Studying in a foreign city is just as safe/unsafe as studying in Chicago. The only difference is that your student may not yet understand the cultural rules of behavior that come along with being a native in a country. The best thing is to do as much research as possible into his/her host country, to discover which places to go and not go, how to behave in public, how to talk to people, etc. A good place to start is a country-specific guidebook and the internet has many resources available as well.
Will my student’s prescription medication be available abroad?
It is advisable that your student bring with them enough of their medication to last him/her throughout the study abroad program. Always make sure all medication is properly labeled and sealed to prevent unwanted hassles at customs. If for some reason it is not possible to bring multiple doses, talk with your doctor and insurance provider as well as Study Abroad to come up with a solution.
What should happen in the case that my student becomes sick?
Unfortunately, emergencies can always occur. Upon arrival, your student should also locate several places where he/she can receive medical care. Students should be familiar with the country’s emergency telephone numbers for ambulance/fire assistance if necessary.
Financing and Study Abroad
How much does study abroad cost?
This is determined on a case-by-case basis and the length of the program does not always indicate whether it will be more or less expensive. The best thing to do is “shop” for a program that fits your student’s academic plan and budget. Price information can be seen on DePaul’s individual program pages. You can also use our Budgeting for Study Abroad worksheet to compare program costs.
What are some ways to finance study abroad?
Financial aid applies to DePaul study abroad programs. Your student should apply for study abroad-specific scholarships. DePaul students are eligible for all the financial aid they would normally receive if they were taking courses on campus. Early application for financial aid increases students' chances to receive awards for study abroad. It is best to discuss any financial information directly with the Office of Financial Aid. Please note that students on non-DePaul program cannot use their DePaul scholarships.
Will I be able to send money to my student?
If your student is using his/her home bank account while abroad, you should be able to deposit money into that account from the United States. If your student plans to open a foreign account, you will need to look into how to wire-transfer money. Contact your bank and ask them about ways to send money overseas.
Staying in Touch
How often should I be in contact with my student?
All parents are worried when their students travel abroad. It is important to stay in contact for safety purposes, but remember that every second your student spends talking to friends and family from home is time he/she is losing forming new relationships in the destination country. Your student’s study abroad experience is valuable and he/she should take advantage of every second. It is advised to keep contact at a minimum, but still be open any time to talk to your student if he/she is experiencing problems during the program.
What are some ways that I can keep in touch with my student?
Technology provides great ways of staying in contact at low prices. Computer downloads such as Skype allow people to talk face-to-face for free, no matter the locations. If you don’t have computer access, you can purchase calling cards or talk to your phone company about a possible international plan. You can also email, or more traditionally, snail mail!
To stay connected in between conversations, you should read up on current events in your student’s host country and about the culture. That way, when you talk to your student, you can ask them about the information you discovered, giving your student a chance to describe his/her experiences.
When is the best time for me to visit?
Try not to visit your student while he/she is in classes, unless you will be able to keep yourself busy during the day. Also remember that students have homework, so you should not expect too much out of your student if you visit during this period. The best option is to just talk to your student and see what is best for him/her. Try not to get offended by their preferences; just be open to whatever time period they believe is best.
Traveling While Abroad
Is it normal for my student to travel during breaks?
One of the advantages of studying abroad is that traveling to nearby countries or cities is a lot easier. Your student should take advantage of everything his/her host country has to offer. This includes different cities, festivals and attractions. If your student prefers to stay in the same place the entire time, that is okay too. However it is completely normal for students to move around during their study abroad experience.
How often should my student travel while abroad?
Some students take many weekend trips while studying abroad, while others wait until they have longer stretches so as not to rush any trip that they take. How often your student will travel depends on many things including budget, class schedule and desire. There are many ways to travel on a budget—make sure your student looks into discount airlines, train tickets and student discounts. If he/she does their research well, he/she will be able to do significantly more traveling.