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Practical Preparations

Here is a list of things that should be resolved before departure, and our suggestions for ways to do so:
  • Make sure your student understands what policies apply to him or her while abroad. Ask home schools about credit, enrollment status, financial aid, study abroad-related fees and services the school will provide while abroad. Ask program providers for the terms of participation, which covers issues such as course load, changes to academic programs, grade reporting, fees, and refunds.
  • Check that your son or daughter’s passport and any required visas are in order. You should also have a valid passport in case of emergency.
  • Before departure, your son or daughter should have a general physical and dental exam. Make sure he or she packs a complete medical record and a typed copy of any vision prescriptions needed. Ask the doctor how best to handle routine prescription medications.
  • Decide with your son or daughter how to access money for both everyday financial needs and emergencies. Certain monetary instruments may be preferable in certain destinations, so ask your program provider for more specific recommendations. Generally, it’s important to ask your bank how (or if) its ATM card will function abroad and what extra fees there might be. A personal credit card with cash advances or traveler's checks could also make sense. Then, make arrangements to pay any monthly bills and, if necessary, to file your son or daughter’s income taxes.
  • Continue carrying your student as a dependent on your health insurance policy, even if he or she will have other coverage while studying abroad. 
  • Insure valuables your son or daughter will take on the trip, such as a laptop computer, camera, or video recorder. Also consider tuition, trip, travel, and luggage insurance. Advise him or her not to bring irreplaceable objects such as family jewelry.
  • Research travel costs and help book flights. Learn regulations regarding the type and size of luggage that can be carried; then help your son or daughter pack lightly. Be aware of any restrictions the tickets you purchase may have (such as a change policy). A money belt can help keep valuables safe during the trip.
  • Make sure you have a telephone number where you can reach your student and know the times of day when he or she is most likely to be there. Minimize the cost of staying in touch by establishing methods in advance. Contact your phone service provider to arrange for a calling card, research internet phone options, or learn the most inexpensive way to call collect or wirelessly from the destination country. You maybe able to select an international plan that has reduced calling rates to that particular country to minimize costs of calling from home. Given the cost of telephoning, it might be better to set up a regular schedule for e-mailing or instant messaging instead.
  • Make sure you will be informed if your student runs into difficulty overseas. Since students are almost always adults (over 18 years of age), you will not receive that information unless you are designated as his or her emergency contact. In some cases, even that is not sufficient, so you may want to have him or her sign a release form as a precaution. Discuss how you will handle any family emergencies that may arise. It’s best to have a written emergency communication plan listing the methods of communication to use and the order in which to use them. Give your student a copy of the plan, which should include: all family telephone numbers; access codes for messages on family answering machines; phone numbers for several out-of-state relatives; and several e-mail addresses, including a backup address at an overseas provider such as Yahoo! Australia.
Gather all of the information you and your student might need while he or she is away, including:
  • The University of Scranton Office of Global Education telephone number (570-941-4841)
  • The University of Scranton Emergency telephone number (800-709-8703)
  • The telephone number for the U.S. consulate or embassy nearest your student's study site
  • The telephone number of the U.S. State Department's Office of Overseas Citizen Services (1-888-407-4747)
  • Insurance carriers telephone numbers and policy numbers
  • Your student's credit card numbers and expiration dates/security codes
  • Your student's passport number and expiration date (it is a good idea to photocopy the information page of the passport)
  • A duplicate lost passport kit (your student should take one abroad as well) containing: two passport photos, official copy of his or her birth certificate, photocopy of passport’s photo, signature, and visa pages
  • Devise a plan to deal with emergencies (abroad or at home)