FAQ's from Parents
Where can I find information about the study abroad program of interest to my son/daughter?
- All of PhilaU’s approved study abroad program can be found on our “Programs” page. Use the “search” function on the “Programs” page to locate your son/daughter’s specific program. You can find a link to the foreign university’s website on each program’s brochure page of our website. Another great source is to communicate regularly with you son/daughter. Each student must meet with the Director of Study Abroad as part of the application process to discuss their program of choice in depth. The student is always our primary point of contact for all information, so make sure you check in with them regularly to ensure they are sharing this information with you.
What is entailed in the study abroad application process?
- The application process is all online and consists of multiple steps including short answer essays, faculty recommendations, course approval forms, a meeting with the Director of Study Abroad, a disciplinary status check with the Dean of Student’s Office and more. It is a thorough process to ensure our office is in tune with each student’s goals and needs, and to ensure each student has given careful thought and consideration to their semester abroad. The average amount of time it takes to complete this process is two to three weeks if the student works diligently; however, we recommend that students start several months prior to the advertised deadline to ensure they have plenty of time.
Can I login to see my son/daughter’s application page?
- The study abroad online application is part of Philadelphia University’s secure network; therefore, each student’s application can only be accessed by the student, using his/her individual username and password. Furthermore, our philosophy is that students alone are responsible for managing/completing their application materials, showing us that they possess qualities such as independence and responsibility (two necessary qualities for having a successful semester abroad).
Will my son/daughter receive academic credit while abroad? Can my son/daughter study abroad and still graduate on time?
- The Study Abroad Office is – first and foremost – an academic office. A large part of our application process is ensuring that each student meets with his/her academic advisor at PhilaU and has each study abroad course approved to transfer back to PhilaU for credit. If planned properly by the student and his/her academic advisor, no student should have to spend an extra semester at PhilaU as a result of studying abroad.
How much will it cost for my son/daughter to study abroad? Will financial aid still apply overseas?
- It is smart to prepare for your son/daughter’s semester abroad to be a bit more expensive than a normal semester at PhilaU. Your tuition charge will likely remain the same for the semester abroad, unless your student selects a school with a tuition rate higher than PhilaU, in which case you would be charged extra tuition to make up the difference. Other charges like housing and food will be different and additional fees (such as airfare, visa fees, health insurance, etc.) will need to be considered. These other fees tend to vary from program to program, so it’s important to talk to your son/daughter to get this information. Each student is given specific cost information for their program in their meeting with the Study Abroad Director. The good news is that all institutional fees (tuition, housing, insurance) are billed through the PhilaU Student Accounts Office, so your PhilaU financial aid package can still be used. Any questions you have about financial aid should be directed to Lisa Cooper in the Financial Aid Office (CooperL@philau.edu).
When will my son/daughter receive their bill for study abroad program fees?
- Since all institutional study abroad fees are being placed on your son/daughter’s PhilaU student account, you can expect to receive your bill at the same time that you normally receive your bill from the university. Additionally, the method you use to pay off your university bill does not have to change (i.e. you can still use TMS). Additional fees, such as airfare, will need to be paid out of pocket prior to your son/daughter’s departure.
How should I ensure that my son/daughter has money overseas?
- CASH: It is very common for students to use their own personal, U.S. bank accounts as their primary source of funds while they are overseas. Students can use their usual bank/ATM card abroad at their local ATM’s, and withdraw local currency as needed. Therefore, encourage your son/daughter to start saving their personal funds for their semester abroad, and if you are planning to contribute to that personal fund it is wise to deposit that money right into your son/daughter’s account. We also recommend that parents have joint access to their son/daughter’s bank account(s) so that if there is a problem with their account the bank will allow you to assist. The amount a student spends abroad varies drastically by student, and depends greatly on the student’s lifestyle. However, on average, having between $3,000 to $5,000 available to spend while abroad should allow the student to live comfortably, afford the essentials and afford to participate in any extra, fun activities as well (weekend trips, shopping, etc.).
- CREDIT: In addition to the above, it is highly encouraged that each student have a credit card (separate from their bank card), if for nothing else than emergency use only. Visa and MasterCard are the dominate cards accepted internationally – we recommend one of these. Discover cards are rarely accepted abroad. If your son/daughter does not already have a credit card, we recommend having them open a new personal card, or include them as a “user” on your credit card (giving them access to your line of credit).
How safe is it for my son/daughter to study abroad?
- Travelling and living abroad is not unsafe. Most stereotypes that exist about other countries “hating” American tourists are simply not true. Likewise, compared to major cities in the United States, violent crime is not witnessed very often in most places abroad or is essentially non-existent. If a student encounters any problems while studying abroad, it is likely petty crime (such as pick-pocketing, which is more common abroad that in the U.S.). In general, as long as the student maintains awareness of his/her surroundings and acts responsibly, he/she will likely encounter no problems. For more information about traveling safely, visit the Travel section on the U.S. Department of State website.
Will my son/daughter have health insurance while abroad?
- Yes. The PhilaU Study Abroad Office has an international medical policy with GeoBlue (formally HTH) Worldwide – a leader in providing international health insurance for U.S. study abroad students. It is a requirement of our program that all students are enrolled in this comprehensive policy. Specific information about coverage details and how to use the insurance will be distributed to each student prior to going abroad.
How often should I communicate with my son/daughter while they are abroad?
- This is a good thing to think about, if you have not considered it before. While your student is abroad, you will miss them and you may be tempted to try to communicate daily (or several times a day). We suggest trying to limit this to once or twice a week, if you can. Your son/daughter will need to go through a bit of a transitional period when they arrive in the foreign country, and sometimes constant communication with people from home can make it harder for them to adjust to their new setting. This is especially true if the student is feeling homesick and fighting to accept any of the “newness” around him/her. As hard as it might be, giving them time and space to adjust and explore the new culture can be extremely beneficial to their overall experience.
Can I visit my son/daughter while they are abroad?
- Absolutely! Visiting your son/daughter while they are abroad is a great opportunity for you to explore a new culture as well! Before going abroad or perhaps upon their arrival at their foreign university, the student will be given an academic schedule for the semester. Because their academic progress abroad is of the utmost importance, please wait until the students receive predeparture orientation and a schedule to book your travel. If you want to visit in the middle of their semester abroad (while they are still in school) use their academic calendar to pick a time that won’t be quite as busy for the student – so you have time to spend together without interrupting their academics. Another option is planning your visit at the end of the academic semester, so the student is finished school and you are free to do whatever you want – wherever you want!
What things should I keep in mind when my son/daughter returns home?
- The main thing to keep in mind is that your son/daughter will go through a transformation while abroad – some students more than others. You may notice that your student is more independent, flexible, globally aware, responsible, excited about new possibilities in their personal and professional life, and they will likely have a bit of the travel bug as well. However, in the midst of all these positive changes, we sometimes see a negative side-effect that we call “reverse culture shock.” During their time abroad, the student becomes accustomed to a different way of life. When they come home it may be hard to adjust back to “the way things used to be”. It can be hard for the student to accept that life at home didn’t stop while he/she was away, and just as he/she changed, things at home changed, too. This will pass naturally over time, but it is important to be aware of.
What else can I do to prepare for my son/daughter's time overseas?
- Keep an open line of communication with your student as they prepare to go abroad. Our office will be sharing lots of information with them regarding what they need to do and things they need to think about prior to their departure. We always encourage the students to share this information with their parents, so they should be keeping you up-to-date on the next step in the process! If they are not openly sharing this information, you may need to give them a little nudge to make sure you stay in the loop.
- Your students are provided with: The PhilaU Study Abroad Handbook and an Orientation Folder with additional resources. They will also receive additional materials from their programs and our brochure page links to their program's websites.