Parent and Family Guide to Study Abroad
Printable version Family Guide 2013
Why go abroad?
Sweet Briar College has been encouraging young women to study abroad since the 1930s. Our commitment to international education continues to be an integral part of our academic life. By this point your daughter has already realized the advantages of going abroad and is willing to take on the challenges that correspond with them.
The experience of studying and living abroad is one that sometimes simply cannot be explained in words. It is a life changing experience, one in which your daughter will not only learn about another culture, but often more importantly learn about themselves and American culture. She will become a diplomat through example. When your daughter arrives home, either on Christmas break or to return after the end of her program, you will notice that she has developed a new maturity, the ability to adapt to new environments, self-confidence, and an awareness that the world does not necessarily operate according to American standards. Living abroad is a hands-on, full-time learning experience that is different for each person. One thing is for certain, your daughter is soon to be embarking on one of the best experiences of her life, one that she will never forget.
The cost of each program is different. Tuition and in some cases room/board costs are paid through Sweet Briar only for certain programs (i.e., Junior Year in Spain, Junior Year in France, Royal Holloway, and the University of St. Andrews). Information regarding specific other programs should be included in the material sent by those institutions.
All students going abroad should check with the Financial Aid Office regarding what, if any, financial aid can be applied toward the cost of the study abroad program. The staff in the Financial Aid Office will be able to address specific questions [(434) 381-6156].
All federalgovernment aid, including scholarships, grants, and loans (i.e., Stafford Loans, Pell Grant) are transferable to study abroad programs. Private outside scholarships, however, are often unwilling to support overseas study. Please check with the individual donors on their specific policy. Sweet Briar financial aid and academic awards may only be used by students to pursue studies on the Sweet Briar Junior Year in France, the Sweet Briar Junior Year Spain, Heidelberg University, University of Urbino and University of St. Andrews programs if the student has a 3.0 GPA. In some of the programs just listed only a portion of the full award normally applied for on-campus study will be applied for study abroad.
As for non-tuition/room/board costs, again, costs vary from country to country. First, check the exchange rate for the value of the American dollar. The most important thing regarding money is to make sure that your daughter knows how to budget money BEFORE she goes overseas. See the “Banking” section for more details regarding money.
Other costs will include (but are not limited to): passport fee, visa (if required), medicine, inoculations, immunizations, medical and dental examinations prior to departure, luggage or a backpack that is convenient to carry, appropriate clothing, cell phone, airfare, commuting costs to and from campus, food, computer and Internet usage fees, books, housing or key deposits, laundry, postage, the study abroad fee, and incidental expenses.
The Study Abroad Fee:
The study abroad administrative fee will be $600 for the academic year and $400 for a semester.
Sweet Briar accepts up to a total of 17 transfer credit hours from abroad programs for one semester, up to 35 for the academic year. It is the students’ responsibility to get all courses pre-approved as outlined in the Proposed Courses Form.
Before the student leaves Sweet Briar it is required that she turn in a “proposed courses form” to the Office of International Studies and to the Registrar. She must also declare a major before the end of her sophomore year. This form lists each course that the student plans to take while overseas and lists the signature of the (Sweet Briar) Department Chair for authorization of those classes, as well as the signatures of the student’s advisor, the Director of International Studies and the Registrar. It is more difficult to change courses while overseas and to obtain approval from the Registrar’s Office while overseas. Therefore, we advise students to obtain approval for several extra courses in the event that they need to change their original schedule. However, should your daughter need approval for new courses while overseas, she should first contact her academic advisor for the approval then forward the approval letter to [email protected]. The registrar will then let her know if the course will be transferable.
Be sure your daughter knows the maximum number of credits allowed in her major (there is often a limit). The best advice is to make sure she meets with her academic advisor and the Registrar before leaving. When she meets with her advisor it is also advisable to plan the courses for her senior year.
Below is Information provided to students from the Office of the Registrar regarding registration from abroad.
Congratulations on your decision to participate in a study abroad program! This experience is an excellent educational opportunity for you. As you make your preparations to go and while you are abroad, the Registrar’s Office will be happy to answer any of your questions. The best way to contact the office is through our web site (http://registrar.sbc.edu). At this site you can access class schedule and catalog information and you can e-mail us with your questions or concerns using the link there. You should use My SBC (http://my.sbc.edu) for the most up-to-date information and for your personal academic records.
Below are a few of the most frequently asked questions from study abroad students.
How many credits may I earn through a study abroad program?
Students may transfer up to 17 credits for one semester abroad and up to 35 credits for an academic year abroad. This assumes that you earn a grade of C- or above in 17 or 35 credit hours of course work in programs using a course credit system similar to ours. If your program uses a different course credit system, then it will be evaluated individually. It is very important that you enroll in at least the minimum number of credits for full-time status at your study abroad institution.
Which courses can be transferred to SBC?
One of the most important things you need to do in preparation for going abroad is to complete the Proposed Courses Form in your packet from the International Studies Office. You should carefully select courses in consultation with your advisor, especially if you want credit to be applied to your major or minor. Whenever possible, information about the number of equivalent SBC credits and level should be included. If you would like for a course to satisfy a general education requirement, this should be indicated. Your request does not guarantee that it will be accepted as a general education requirement as the course content must first be evaluated by the Registrar. It is best if you select several extra courses so that you will have a plan if one or more of your first choices is unavailable. The corresponding department chair at SBC must approve each course. You also need to get your advisor’s and the Registrar’s signature on your form after obtaining all of the other required signatures. This procedure will ensure that you receive the transfer credit you need.
What happens if I want or need to take a course that has not been pre-approved?
If your course selections change while you are abroad, you should still get approval from the appropriate department chair here at SBC and from the Registrar’s Office to ensure that the credit will be accepted in transfer. The easiest way to obtain approval is to e-mail the Registrar’s Office and explain your situation. If you provide a course description in your e-mail, the Registrar’s Office can usually determine whether or not the course will be accepted. If we have a question about it, we will contact the appropriate department chair for you. Someone from the Registrar’s Office will respond to you promptly as we realize that you are often working under an add/drop deadline. If you find yourself in this situation, be sure to provide us with enough information to help you. In addition to the course title and description, you should tell us whether or not you want the course to satisfy a specific degree or major requirement.
How are my study abroad program grades reported to Sweet Briar?
If another institution coordinates your study abroad program, it is your responsibility to make sure that an OFFICIAL transcript is sent from that institution to the Registrar’s Office at Sweet Briar. No transfer credit can be given based on a grade report – an official transcript is required. For students in JYF or JYS, or in other programs coordinated by SBC (such as Royal Holloway or St. Andrews), your transcripts will be sent to the Registrar’s Office for you. If you are directly enrolling in a foreign institution, you are responsible for having an official transcript sent directly to the Registrar’s Office. We cannot accept a transcript that has been sent to you first. If you have questions about your specific program, check with the International Studies Office or the Registrar’s Office.
How can I get a copy of my study abroad transcript in the future?
The official transcript sent to the Registrar’s Office for transfer evaluation cannot be re-released to you now or in the future. You should make arrangements with your specific program or institution to have a copy of your transcript sent to you for your records. If you require official transcripts from the program in the future for graduate school applications or for potential employers, it is your responsibility to contact the institution that is issues the transcript. Sometimes, this will be the university where you studied while abroad, and it can be a time consuming process to obtain transcripts. Find out the required procedure while you are there. Your Sweet Briar College transcript will list the courses you took while abroad and the credits given for each course, but grades will not appear.
Can I register for classes at SBC if I am returning to campus the following semester?
First, it is important that you not panic about registration taking place on campus while you are abroad. You may wait until you return to campus at the beginning of the next semester to register for that term. Usually, students who are studying abroad need upper-level courses for their majors when they return and these courses seldom close. Departments at SBC have always been accommodating to returning majors to make sure they are able to enroll in these courses. However, if you have waited this late in your academic career to complete general education requirements and need an introductory level course, then you may have difficulty with closed courses when you return to campus.
How can I register for the upcoming term at SBC?
Again, your best source of information is the course schedule that you can access through My SBC and the Registrar’s Office web site. These will provide you with class schedules, course descriptions of new courses for the upcoming term, and general registration information. If you want to register while you are abroad, you must e-mail your advisor with your course selections. Your advisor may then e-mail your Term Pin to you and you may register at your assigned time. Be sure to take time zone differences into consideration before you attempt to register through My SBC. Alternatively, your advisor may send a paper registration form to the Registrar’s Office and we will register you for classes at your assigned time. The Registrar’s Office will not enter any registration request without your advisor’s signature. An academic calendar is on the web site for your reference.
Important resources to take abroad:
- current SBC Catalog
- contact information for your advisor(s)
- an updated copy of your degree audit
your log in for My SBC
Passport: All international travelers MUST have a passport. At least one family member of each study abroad student’s family should have a passport as well. This will enable them to travel to the student in case of an emergency. An American passport, signifying nationality and citizenship, provides great protection and sometimes risk as well. If your daughter already has a passport be sure to check the expiration date. If the passport was obtained before the age of 18 then it is valid for only five years. However, if it was obtained at the age of 18 or over, it is valid for ten years. Please verify that it is valid through the entire stay abroad!! Obtaining a passport usually takes about a month, but during the busy spring and summer travel seasons it often takes much longer. For information on how to apply go to http://travel.state.gov/passport/get/get_4855.html
She should keep a photocopy of the passport in a safe place separate from her passport. It is also advisable to keep a copy of your daughter’s passport. If it is lost or stolen, the student should immediately contact the nearest American embassy, bring the photocopy of the passport, and wait until a new one is sent. These situations can be avoided by always knowing where the passport is and keeping it in a safe place.
If you yourself do not have a passport, now would be a good time to obtain one, in case you need to travel to see your daughter in an emergency.
To apply for a passport:
Individuals who have never been issued a US passport must submit the following documents with their application:
-Proof of citizenship: birth certificate (from the bureau of vital statistics in the state of birth) or naturalization certificate (for naturalized citizens). Birth certificates must bear the seal of the state of birth; hospital birth certificates are not official and will not be accepted.
-Two identical color photographs, 2 inches square on a white background, taken within six months of the date of application.
-Proof of identity, such as a driver’s license with signature and photograph.
-Fee. The standard passport fee is $65 for individuals age 18 or older.
Student Visa: Depending on the length of stay and the country where your daughter will study, she may or may not need a student visa! Please check with your study abroad program and nearest consulate for the country where your daughter will study to find out the most updated information regarding student visa requirements.
Visas for travelling while already abroad:If your daughter plans on traveling outside of her host country or out of Western Europe, then she needs to check the visa requirements EARLY (i.e. well before leaving the United States.) Certain documents may be required, such as immunization documentation, proof of insurance, police records, and proof that she can afford to travel in that country (i.e. can cover all expenses). For further information check with the Department of State; most information can be found on http://travel.state.gov/foreignentryreqs.html .
The ISIC Card: The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is the most recognized identification card in the world with a lot of benefits. Discounts are given from various types of industries, such as train travel, car rental, hotel and hostels, restaurants, grocery stores, etc. where the ISIC card is displayed. To obtain student travel rates on flights, trains, and buses the ISIC card is a must. You can obtain one of these cards by contacting Peace Frogs Travel at 1-888-737-6472.
Immigration and Customs:
Once reaching her final destination, your daughter will have to go through customs. She will be asked the purpose of her visit and then will need to show certain documentation to prove that she is legitimately studying in that country in order to get her passport stamped for the full study period. Make copies of the acceptance letter from the university, proof that she will be able to pay for tuition, room, board, and travel expenses (i.e. scholarship letter [if applicable], proof of credit card limit, bank statements etc.).
After the passport has been stamped and the baggage has been claimed, travelers usually pass through a customs inspection. Usually, the inspection is quick, but sometimes they may ask to look into the luggage. It is important that the student is courteous to the inspectors. Also, it helps if the student is well put together, even though that might be difficult after an overnight flight.
It is important that you have sufficient health care coverage while abroad.
Many study abroad programs require students purchase the program’s health insurance plan. Usually these plans only cover you while abroad. Therefore, it is important for you to maintain your U.S. coverage while you are abroad. This is the only way to insure the most adequate coverage possible.
If your program does not provide coverage abroad you will have to purchase insurance.
Please review your U.S. plan with your insurance company. Minimally, you should ask the following questions.
Am I covered abroad?
Does my policy cover medical evacuation and repatriation
How do you file a claim form from abroad?
What paperwork are you expected to submit to the insurance company?
Can you get a supply of claim forms to take with you?
Will a notarized translation be required if supporting documents are not in English?
How long will it take for the claim to be processed and for you to receive reimbursement?
Will the insurance company send the reimbursement to your U.S. or overseas address?
Does my coverage extend to countries outside the one I am studying in?
These are other factors to consider:
What category or option (eg. out of “network”) of your insurance plan will you utilize when you seek health services off-campus and what costs (eg. coinsurance) are you expected to bear under this option?
What is the basic medical deductible amount and what is included in it?
If you need to get a prescription drug overseas, will your insurance company reimburse you for all or part of the cost of the drug? What documents will you need to submit to the insurance company in order to obtain such a reimbursement?
Do you anticipate needing routine, non-emergency health services while abroad? Are these services covered by your medical plan?
To what extent does your insurance cover mental health services?
To what extent does your insurance cover hospitalization?
Does your insurance cover emergency medical evacuation and repatriation to the U.S.?
If immunizations are required prior to your departure, will your insurance company cover them?
Does your health insurance include dental coverage or do you have separate dental insurance?
Does your health insurance include eye care?
Is a copy of your insurance policy available in the language of your host country?
Are sports injuries excluded from coverage under your insurance policy?
What are the limits (caps) and deductibles?
What are the procedures for a claim?
Prescriptions: Also, plan ahead if your daughter has a prescription! Students who have studied abroad in the past have had to make numerous phone calls to their insurance company in order to get 5-10 months worth of prescription medicine BEFORE they left in September or January. Be sure that she keeps all medicine in easily recognizable prescription bottles in case Customs checks her bags on arrival. Also, have her keep all medications in her carry on bag in case luggage is lost or misplaced. Be sure that your daughter has all of the immunizations necessary for the countries in which she will be traveling, including those over the Christmas and Spring breaks. Plan ahead because some immunizations dictate several doses.
If your daughter has any special health care needs or conditions, it is important to share this information with the program representatives. She should be aware of how to obtain health care in the country where she will be studying. The local U.S. embassy can supply names of physicians and hospitals in the area. She should also research background information about health issues in her host country. Are immunizations required? The Center for Disease Control (CDC) offers some helpful information at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. It is also helpful to carry copies of health records while traveling.
If applicable, be sure your daughter has the necessary supply of contact solution, contacts, or an extra pair of glasses.
If studying in Australia, she should take an extra amount of sun block. It is true that the ozone layer is not as protective and native Australians have a much higher rate of skin cancer than people do in the Northern Hemisphere. For further information you can go to the CDC’s web site: www.cdc.traveltips.com .
Alcohol: Alcohol use is much more prevalent in Europe than it is the United
States. For some students this may be the first time they can legally consume alcohol. They will need to be careful and avoid overindulgence. This is both for health and safety reasons and also because there may be social and legal consequences. Please discuss this issue with your daughter.
Eating disorders: Adjusting to different foods can be difficult at first. If your daughter has a history of an eating disorder then it is particularly important to be aware of severe dietary changes. Talk candidly with your daughter about any pressures they may feel to diet. While abroad it is particularly important to maintain a well balanced diet featuring a wide variety of food and exercise regularly.
The exchange rate:The best bet for finding the best exchange rate in any country is to use a credit card. VISA and Master Card are the most accepted worldwide. Bank or currency exchange companies ALWAYS charge either a fee or a percent of the exchange for a profit. In some European countries, and especially the United Kingdom and Ireland, businesses such as grocery stores, drug stores (chemists), restaurants, and pubs will allow your daughter to charge up to around $75 dollars in a cash advance over her purchase without a charge. This is easier than going to the bank and in the long run will save lots of money.
The catch: Using a credit card can be dangerous. Most people don’t keep track of every single purchase made on a credit card and are stunned when the bill arrives. Make sure your daughter keeps a record of all credit card transactions – it’s an invaluable learning experience in responsibility.
Another approach: Take different types of funds (currency, Traveler’s Checks, credit card, etc): Each country has different methods. Remember that Traveler’s Checks are very useful for transporting funds. For the first week or so, take some Traveler’s Checks in dollars (but remember that they are not considered currency abroad). Also, if your daughter has not already had the experience of being overdrawn or writing a bad check make sure that she understands the concept and consequences of bad credit. It’s easy to lose track of her balance when abroad. One may also use an American Express Card to cash personal checks abroad, provided there is an American Express Office in the host city.
MAKE SURE YOUR DAUGHTER KNOWS HOW TO BUDGET!!!
Helpful Web Sites
http://www.GoAbroad.com for anything and everything about going
Travel Companies: also: call 1-800-flycheap
www.cdc.gov (for health updates and answers to questions)
www.state.gov/www/services.html (for helpful safety hints on traveling
www.travel.state.gov/travel_warnings.html (for notices on countries around the world. This page has general notices on travel as well as “warnings”.)
www.embpage.org (for links to diplomatic posts in the U.S. – This is what you use to get information on obtaining a visa.)
Sweet Briar sites:
If it’s an Election Year, find out how to vote when abroad:
Culture Shock and Reverse Culture Shock:
www.usc.edu/globaled.safeti (by the US Department of Education)
What to Pack:
- All documents, most important: Passport!
- Some cash in currencies of any countries you are traveling to and through
- Credit cards
- SBC ID card
- Up to 8 passport photos for ID cards acquired abroad.
- Calling card numbers, direct numbers to the USA
- A journal and small address book
- All prescription medicines (*depending on health insurance, she might have to fight a battle to get a semester or two’s worth before departure).
- Vitamins (the kind that she is used to and trust)
- Extra contact lenses, solution, and glasses
- Film (very expensive abroad, plan to use at least 12 rolls for a year abroad)
- Extra batteries (very expensive abroad)
- A good dictionary in the language of the host country
- Gifts from the USA for the host family and friends
Other items, such as clothing, toiletries, etc. are covered in the student’s handbooks.
It is recommended that all students pack as lightly as possible. However, sometimes it necessary to ship extra items overseas. Most mailings will get to an overseas destination in 7-15 days by airmail. Packages take longer and are obviously more expensive. There are two options in shipping packages, by air or by sea. To ship by sea takes from three to four months to arrive, but it is MUCH cheaper, so plan in advance. To ship by air sometimes takes a month. The faster it gets there, the more you will pay.
E-mail: E-mail is by far the cheapest and most time efficient way of communicating overseas. It is advisable to get a non-SBC account like hotmail, yahoo, etc. while your daughter is abroad so that she is not overloaded with messages! Your daughter should also check her SBC account monthly by going to webmail.sbc.edu so that she does not miss other messages that may also be important to her. The means of communication for the Office of International Studies is email, and the director will also be forwarding information about safety, registration, room selection, student elections etc.
Telephone: Check with your long distance carrier for special international rate deals, most of them have several choices. You may also wish to compare or shop with other companies.
Snail Mail: For letters it takes an average of 7-10 days to get to Europe, sometimes much longer. Unfortunately, students of the past have complained that many letters have been lost in the mail. Be sure that you keep a copy of whatever you are sending in the mail, especially if it is important documentation.
Fax: When your daughter arrives at her destination, have her find a fax machine where she can receive faxes. It will often be located in a library at the school. You will also need to schedule a time, so she can be there to receive it.
Most programs offer at least a few orientation days. The Junior Year in France and Junior Year in Spain programs are much longer, and the St. Andrews program is optional, but your daughter SHOULD NOT MISS IT. Orientation provides the students with an “in between” time, so they don’t feel so “thrown” into a new country, new culture, and new language (the British do have a different vocabulary that takes a bit of getting used to).
Each student adjusts differently to her new home and new environment. Some students have a very short adjustment period with few problems and no homesickness, while others take months to adjust to the differences and being away from familiar family and friends. Here are some tips for your daughter to help overcome culture shock:
-Learn the language well. Poor communication often leads to misunderstanding.
-She should make an effort to interact with the host nationals (When in Rome, do as the Romans do).
-Keep a regular schedule: sleep, eat, and exercise regularly.
-Ask for help when she needs it; most nationals are more than happy to help.
-Take some time for herself
-Know where the local health center is located so she doesn’t panic when she gets her first cold.
-Make a concentrated effort to learn the customs and expectations of the host nationals without making judgments.
-Try to disregard old assumptions and expectations; be open to new things. Explore new ways of living and compare these new ways to her own, be conscious of her values and attitudes and how they may be interfering with her ability to understand different values and attitudes.
Please discuss issues of safety with your daughter. The following is a list of recommendations for safe travel. Please encourage your daughter to follow these suggestions:
1. Be well informed. Know about the political situation in the country and region she is visiting. Investigate the safest means of travel to and from her destination and for travel while she is abroad.
2. Carefully read all literature sent to her by her program
3. Attend the orientation program offered by her program.
4. Be sure to make her program sponsor aware of any special health information about her or needs she may have.
5. Stay in close contact with her parents and program directors-especially if she travels during her stay.
6. Always abide by host-country laws and rules of her program.
7. Know in advance how to locate emergency personnel (police, ambulance, etc.)
8. If she has a health or safety concern, be sure to talk about this with her program representative immediately.
9. Be sure to act respectfully towards others and accept responsibility for her behavior.
10. Do not drink excessively or take illegal drugs.
11. Don’t do things that make it obvious to others that she is an American tourist. Don’t wear an U.S. flag on her clothes or backpack. Don’t flash money around.
12. Stay away from high crime areas.
13. Never hitchhike
14. If there is a period of turmoil in the country she is visiting, it is wise to stay away from American hot spots such as the Hard Rock Café or other tourist attractions.
15. Read all emails sent from the Director of International Studies carefully, they may contain important safety information.
16. Read all of the information about her host country available on the following web sites
http://travel.state.gov There is a special section for student travel on this page. You can also read about any travel advisories for the countries your daughter will be visiting.
This holds the CIAs fact book on most countries from maps to statistics to history.
Emergency Contact Numbers:
Director of International Studies: (434) 381-6206 (Monday-Friday 9:00 AM-5:00 PM Eastern Standard Time)
24 hour Emergency Contact number: (434) 381-6144 (This is the Sweet Briar Department of Public Safety. They will contact the Director of International Studies.)
International Student Identity Card (ISIC) 24-hour insurance claim line: from the U.S. (877) 370-4742 from overseas (715)-345-0505 call collect. If your daughter does not receive this card through her study abroad program, she can obtain one through our office. Benefits include this 24 hour traveler’s assistance number and medical evacuation insurance.)
The State Department’s Overseas Citizen’s Emergency Center: (202) 647-5225 for information on medical, financial, or legal problems while abroad.
The International Association for Medical Assistance for Travelers (716) 754-4883 offers information on English-speaking doctors abroad.
Since 2001 the government has issued a continuous worldwide caution updated on a regular basis. To see the most recent update, please see:
Additionally, the following countries are on the State Department’s Travel Warning and Public Announcement Lists at http://travel.state.gov/
Current Travel Warnings
Travel Warnings are issued when long-term, protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or unstable lead the State Department to recommend that Americans avoid or consider the risk of travel to that country. A Travel Warning is also issued when the U.S. Government’s ability to assist American citizens is constrained due to the closure of an embassy or consulate or because of a drawdown of its staff.
Current Travel Alerts
Travel Alerts are issued to disseminate information about short-term conditions, either transnational or within a particular country, that pose significant risks to the security of U.S. citizens. Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, coups, anniversaries of terrorist events, election-related demonstrations or violence, and high-profile events such as international conferences or regional sports events are examples of conditions that might generate a Travel Alert.
You can also find general information about all countries and the most recent Worldwide Caution for US citizens at this site.
Your daughter should contact her local Board of Elections to obtain an absentee ballot. Usually they require a written letter telling them why an absentee ballot is needed, where to send the ballot (they will need the overseas address) the home address, and a signature (at the end of the letter) to validate the request. The best time to request the ballot is prior to departure since it will take about 10 days for it to arrive and then 10 days to return after the voting is complete.
Reverse Culture Shock:
Returning home can be just as difficult, or even more difficult, than going to the host country. People feel that it should be simple to return to America. However, research has shown that reentry has its own set of special social and psychological adjustments, which can be facilitated by being aware of the reentry process and following some advice from those who have already returned. Those who adjust well and quickly to their new environment usually have a harder time adjusting back to the United States. Here are some tips for you for when your daughter returns from being abroad:
- Prepare for the adjustment process. Realize that once your daughter is home after an abroad experience, things will be different, new things will be noticed, and perceptions will have changed.
-Allow time. She will be taking time to realize and reflect upon what is going on around her, how she is reacting to it, and what she might like to change. She is going to have to ease into the transition.
-Understand that the familiar will seem different. She will have changed, home has changed, and she will be seeing familiar people, places, and behaviors from new perspectives. Some things will seem strange, perhaps even unsettling. She is going to have to expect to have some new emotional and psychological reactions to being home. Everyone does.
-There will be much “cultural catching up” to do. Some linguistic, social, political, economic, entertainment and current event topics will be unfamiliar as new programs, slang, and even governmental forms may have emerged since she left. She may have some learning to do about her own culture.
-Reserve judgements. Just as she had to keep an open mind when first encountering the culture of a new foreign country, she must try to resist the natural impulse to make snap decisions and judgements about people and behaviors once back home. Mood swings are common at first and the most valuable and valid analysis of events is likely to take place after allowing some time for thorough reflection.
-Respond thoughtfully and slowly. Frustration, disorientation, and boredom in the returnee can lead to behavior that is incomprehensible to family and friends. Take some time to rehearse what you want to say and how you will respond to situations in a calm, thoughtful manner.
-Cultivate sensitivity. Much frustration in returnees stems from what is perceived as a disinterest by others in their experience and lack of opportunity to express their feelings and tell their stories. Being as good a listener as a talker is a key ingredient in mutual sharing.
-Listening: For the majority of the students who reflect and report back on their time abroad, it was the best time of their lives. It is important for you to listen to the endless stories told by your daughter. This will be extremely beneficial and make the returning experience more enjoyable for both of you. One of the main problems encountered by students returning from abroad is the feeling that nobody wants to hear about the amazing experience they had. In fact, no one will be as interested in hearing about their adventures and triumphs as they will be in telling people about those experiences. It is not a rejection of them or their achievements, but simply the fact that once the highlights have been given, usually there is no further interest. Often it is extremely difficult to explain all of the sights they saw and feelings they had while studying abroad, and frustration will occur no matter how sympathetic you are as listeners. Don’t expect your relationship with your daughter to be exactly the same as when she left. She will be returning as a new, more independent and self-confident person, and that is often difficult for parents to accept. They must also realize that just as they have changed, you at home will have experienced some changes as well. Patience and a listening ear are needed from both the parents and the returnee to ease the transition. The best preparation is flexibility, openness, minimal preconceptions, and tempered optimism.
Resuming Study at SBC:
Most students who had their courses pre-approved by the Office of International Studies and the Registrar have no problems transferring credit.
One of the last responsibilities of the study abroad student is to fill out an evaluation of the program she attended. The evaluation is one of the best ways for the Office of International Studies to receive feedback from the students.
Information in this manual as well as Sweet Briar College study abroad policies may be subject to change without notice.