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. From these sessions, students learn 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. Typically, after returning from a study abroad experience, there is a shift in a students academic performance. Most are more committed to their studies and achieve higher grades than prior to their international experience.
It is important to set up a support team for students as they begin to prepare for this incredible experience. There is a team of academic advisers, faculty members, financial aid officers (when appropriate) and the CGE staff. Central to this team 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! Applications for study abroad approval are due December 1st of Sophomore year. This makes Freshman spring and summer the best times to begin discussing the possibility of study abroad with your student.
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 abroad 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 focusing on a particular city or country, encourage your student to consider specific aspects they are looking for. Is language study is important to them? Would they rather live in an apartment, dorm, or home stay? Do they prefer urban or rural environments? All of the recognized program options can be found listed by major here or here
With hectic daily schedules, it is easy for students to “forget” to mention their study abroad plans to parents. Prior to Sophomore year ask your student how they feel about possibly spending a semester or year abroad. Encourage them to discuss their ideas, fears, and questions openly with you. Once Sophomore year has begun, check with your student to see if they are on track. Are they on track for submitting a completed application by the December 1st deadline? Have they met with a Center for Global Education Advisor? Have they attended an information session?
- Encourage Independence
The pre-departure processes we use promote independence and self reliance in students. From early inquiry to the final pre-departure orientation, students are given necessary skills for their time abroad. Students are given ample opportunity to learn about study abroad through information sessions, fairs, and individual advising at the CGE. We always welcome parent inquiries. However, you should encourage your student to gather all of the information by themselves and share it with you directly. This will ensure your student has all the necessary knowledge. It will also 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. However, for PC approval, a student must have a minimum CGPA 2.75 in order to be eligible to study abroad.
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. Students will also not be considered if they have been on probationary period up to the time of departure.
All financial obligations to Providence College must be met. Any student who is indebted to PC must arrange payment with the Bursar’s Office to be approved for study abroad.
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 their fall semester of Senior year instead of their Junior year.
The College reserves the right to restrict the numbers of students approved to study abroad in any one semester. This may be done in order to balance the number of students intending to study abroad across the academic year.
No student will be considered for summer study abroad whose college record reflects any serious disciplinary action. Students will also not be considered if they been on 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. It is the students responsibility to ensure they meet such stated requirements.
Note: Providence College reserves the right to approve or disapprove various study abroad programs. This decision is based upon assessments of curriculum, faculty, structure and compatibility with the educational goals of 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. These courses can meet curriculum requirements for their major, minor, core, and general elective courses. Students may also participate in one of our popular internship programs. These programs consist of a 3-credit internship in the field of their interest in addition to 4 content courses. The content of the courses is generally related to the country’s history, culture, language, and politics.
The Center for Global Education (CGE) at Providence College consists of four full-time staff members. In addition to the full-time staff, there are also student Peer Advisors in the office who have studied abroad. The primary role of the CGE is to help students choose an appropriate program based on their interests and needs. The CGE also approves student applications, monitors eligibility requirements, and coordinates course approval and credit transfer. It is important to remember that the CGE does not issue student visas for other countries. We also do not 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. It may also be a private organization specializing in running study abroad programs (School for International Training – SIT). In every case there will be an office in the U.S. that will assist your student prior to departure. There will also be an office with English-speaking native staff in the country. They will provide your student with orientation activities and have staff on-call 24/7 in the event of an emergency. Every program recognized by the CGE 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. They all have highly trained staff, excellent academic resources, and significant emergency preparedness. Both before departure and upon arrival, students receive information to make appropriate decisions based on cultural norms and local laws. During a mandatory Pre-Departure Orientation, students are prepared by Providence College staff to make good choices during their time abroad. After arrival, local program staff conduct orientation activities that provide students with skills to conduct themselves in their host country.
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. They will have 24/7 access to on-site staff in case of emergency while they are abroad. All PC recognized programs have necessary resources to evacuate students in the event of natural disasters, terrorism, or political unrest.
PC observes U.S. State Department Travel Advisories and CDC Travel Health Warnings. PC approves programs in countries where a level one or two U.S. State Department Travel Advisory has been issued. PC will not approve programs that take place in countries for which a 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. This may include 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. This may come in the form of yelling or crying. Some examples of culture shock could include:
- a student who arrives overseas, calls their parent, and says they cannot handle the homesickness they are experiencing. They say they are so unhappy that they want to book a flight back home.
- a student who initially loved their new location is starting to complain about the stresses and inconveniences of life abroad.
- a student who does not want to leave their bedroom.
- a student who prefers to message friends from home rather than interact with people in his new environment.
- a student reluctant to explore their new surroundings .
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/revise as necessary so that you and your student agree on how often you should communicate. We encourage students and their families to limit their communication to no more than 2-3 times a week. Although this may be difficult, constant communication with people from home slows down the acculturation process. This can actually make homesickness worse. The best way for students to adapt to their new environment is to get involved with their program. Spending too much time on Facebook and Skype can prevent students from becoming fully involved during their time abroad.
- 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 or taking part in a language exchange with a local student. They may also join an intramural sports team or sign up for a field trip with their 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 is struggling to cope with culture shock, encourage them to reach out to program staff. The on-site staff are trained to help students that are having trouble adjusting or with their mental health. They serve as excellent resources for students while they are away from home and are experienced in assisting American students. In these cases, you may also contact the CGE for assistance in contacting the on-site program staff.