Frequently Asked Questions for Parents

Why should my student study abroad if his/her degree can be completed closer to home?

Your student will gain a new perspective on the world and develop skills that cannot be acquired while at home in their comfort zone. Your student will learn more about herself or himself in the short time spent abroad than in many years at home. New strengths will be found by overcoming the challenges of living in a new culture and speaking a new language.

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How long will my student be abroad?

The Office of Study Abroad offers a wide variety of program choices to students. Programs range from a few weeks over the summer or winter break to a full academic semester or year abroad. Students usually receive 3-6 hours of credit for shorter programs and 12-18 hours of credit for semester programs.

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How much does study abroad cost?

The cost of studying abroad depends on a number of variables, such as the length, destination, exchange rates, host university, credit hours, and program choice. Prices may include tuition, flights, and housing, or they may include only the minimal accommodations.

The Office of Study Abroad offers faculty-led programs, provider programs, and tuition-exchange partners. Students studying abroad with tuition-exchange partners pay their MSU tuition as usual, and they pay room and board while abroad. To get a better idea of the cost, visit our programs page or have your student set up an appointment with the Office of Study Abroad.

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If my student does not speak a foreign language, must he or she study in an English-speaking country?

While speaking the native language is very important to the adapting process, it is not required to participate in many programs. We recommend programs throughout the world that offer classes in English and students need not speak the native language. If your student is staying for an extended period of time, we suggest that he/she take language classes in addition to the normal course load in order to better adjust while abroad.

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Why are you requiring my student to purchase additional health insurance?

Mississippi State University requires that ALL students studying abroad purchase sufficient health insurance for their stay abroad. This inexpensive insurance is designed to assist with specific needs that can develop while in another country. Even if you already have health insurance, additional coverage is important to cover situations that may not be covered by a domestic carrier.

In order to study abroad with Mississippi State University, students’ policies must cover (at a minimum) the following three services:

  1. Medical Evacuation
  2. Bedside Visit (by parent or family member)
  3. Repatriation of Remains

All faculty-led programs include this cost in the program fee or provide students with the option to purchase a plan as a group. Provider programs, such as AIFS, API, CCSA, CEA, GLOBALINKS, GSE, ISA, Semester at Sea and SIT, provide sufficient coverage, and students need not buy additional insurance.

Other affiliated programs, including exchange and direct-enroll programs, do not include sufficient health insurance in their program fee. Students studying abroad with these programs MUST purchase additional coverage.

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Does my student need a visa?

Although the Office of Study Abroad will guide students in this process, it is ultimately the responsibility of the student to research visa requirements and obtain a visa. Visa requirements vary greatly from country to country and change often without warning. Make sure your student has looked into this process and can confirm with certainty the visa requirements for his/her host country. Remember that visa requirements differ depending on the length of stay and purpose of travel.

Students need to be patient with the consulate staff. They are often understaffed and overworked and do not have much patience for students that have waited until the last moment.

Students that are traveling abroad with a provider program often receive a great deal of assistance with this process from the provider company.

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What can I do to help my student have a great experience abroad?

The simple fact that you are already interested in your student’s experience will be beneficial to your student. Learn as much as you can about the culture and places that you student will be living and visiting and encourage your son or daughter to do the same. Stay informed and encourage your student to complete all the steps necessary to study abroad, but remember to step back and accept that your student must complete these steps, not you. If your student is not organized and prepared enough to get the application and visa materials turned in, then he or she probably is not ready to study abroad. Also, remember that your student may experience culture shock upon arrival to a new country and reentry shock upon return home. Research the potential emotional roller coaster that your student might be going through during his or year study abroad experience.

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How will I communicate with my student?

Before your student goes abroad, set appropriate guidelines as to when and how you should communicate. Review all of the contact information that your student has received (address, phone number, program office, etc.). Understand that your student may not be able to contact you immediately upon arrival. It may take several hours or more than a day to reach his/her host city and to get settled enough to call or email you. Be patient. Your student will be dealing with all sorts of new circumstances.

Email and online services (such as Skype and FaceTime) make communicating increasingly easier and cheaper than ever. If your student has access to Internet, you may chat freely at no cost to either of you. Cell phones are becoming more popular among students studying abroad. If your student purchases or rents a phone while abroad, you will be able to reach him or her at a moment’s notice. Remember to watch out for high phone bills if you plan to rely on this form of communication.

If your student intends to travel with a U.S. smart phone, there are many free or inexpensive apps that can be used with a WiFi connection to call, text, or voice message friends and family in the U.S. These apps include, but are not limited to, HeyTell, Skype, Viber, Voxer, and WhatsApp.

Don’t expect to speak as frequently as you may speak when your student is stateside. You may be facing a time difference that will require you to set up appointments to speak with each other. Your student will also be traveling within his or her host country and may not have a routine schedule. If your student does not respond to your email immediately, do not assume that there is a problem.

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May I visit my student abroad?

Absolutely! Visiting your student can be an exciting role reversal for both of you to enjoy together. Your student will be eager to serve as your guide and to show off his or her new culture and language skills. However, it is important that you do not disrupt your student’s routine while abroad. After all, you student is STUDYING abroad. Make sure that your student does not have prior commitments or upcoming exams before you purchase your flight. Your student should not be expected to skip classes in order to be your tour guide. Also, depending on accommodations, it may not be possible for you to stay with your student in his or her residence. Consider visiting your student during a holiday break or after the program is over. We do not recommend that you fly over with your student. Allow your student to take the first step alone.

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Why do I need a passport if I am not planning to visit my student abroad?

We recommend that at least one parent have a passport in case your student becomes sick or injured while abroad. If you do not have a passport, you will not be able to leave the country to visit your student. To look into this process, please visit The U.S. Department of State’s website.

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What if my student is lonely and wants to come home?

As your student’s host culture becomes more routine and less exciting, your student may call or email sad or lonely. Listen to your student vent, but don’t assume that you must find the solutions. Your student is abroad to learn how to overcome adverse situations. Encourage your student to stick it out. Returning early will not only result in a huge economic loss, but your student may also fail classes. The loss in confidence will be harmful as well. Also, remember that as a parent, you are the most sympathetic and compassionate ear available to your student. Simply listening and supporting your student will often be the key to success.

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What happens if there is an emergency?

If your student contacts you during a potential emergency, remind him or her that the on-site staff is the best resource. Whether your student is ill, has been harmed, or was a victim of theft, the on-site staff has the resources and know-how to handle this situation far better than anyone stateside. The on-site staff will work to help your student immediately and will contact the Office of Study Abroad at Mississippi State University if there is need for further instruction.

As a parent, you will be your student’s emotional contact when times are tough (and they will be tough at some point if your student is abroad for an extended period of time). If you feel that your student’s distress is caused by something more than culture shock and normal issues with adjusting, have your student call or email the Office of Study Abroad to let us know what is happening. We can make contact with on-site staff and your student if necessary to try to resolve the problem.

Our primary concern is your student’s safety. If a crisis or natural disaster develops while your student is abroad we will work with on-site staff to locate your student and contact the US Embassy if necessary. We collect each student’s emergency contact information prior to departure and will contact you with all updates related to your student’s wellbeing.

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How will my student react to returning home?

Not only do students experience culture shock when traveling to another country, when returning home it is also normal for some students to experience a form of reentry shock after having been abroad for several months. Students will want to tell you endless stories of their experiences abroad and will often compare their host culture to U.S. culture. Some students will be excited to return, while others will see home as a strange place to which they initially do not relate. Your student will most likely return with new opinions and points of view that are perfectly acceptable in his or her host country, but that do not mesh with the views that your student once had. The better integrated in local society that your student becomes while abroad, the harder it is return to life in the US. Learn as much as you can about culture shock and reentry shock in order to help your student through these phases.

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What future opportunities may be available to my student if he or she studies abroad?

Mississippi State University is proud to offer a Minor in International Studies to all undergraduate students in good standing. The Minor in International Studies is designed to enhance students understanding of the global environment in which they are living. Students completing this program will develop knowledge of a foreign language, have experience living in another country, and acquire a general background of different cultures and societies, which can be vital toward being successful in todays world.

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Why does the U.S. Senate think study abroad is a good idea?

“In recognition of the long-term national benefits of sending American students abroad, the U.S. Senate issued a resolution designating 2006 as the Year of Study Abroad to raise awareness and to help increase the number of U.S. students studying abroad. The resolution itself lists the 13 reasons why broad-based support of study abroad programs is important and necessary on a national level.”

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