Sending your student on an overseas program is a big decision. For many students, this will be the first time they spend a significant length of time away from their parents, let alone travel overseas. However, for those parents and students willing to take on the challenge of a study abroad program, the rewards are immense.
Our office works with students to examine their study abroad options while focusing on their academic, financial and personal needs. Once students select a program and are accepted, we work to prepare them for the academic and intercultural experiences they may encounter abroad. Our orientation program includes information about travel, health, safety and culture abroad. In addition, we pay careful attention to world events to help ensure the safety and security of students abroad.
Study abroad offers the ideal vehicle for parents to support their students in learning more about themselves. It offers the student a unique opportunity to learn in another culture, within the security of a carefully chosen host family and host institution. Students studying a foreign language will perfect the accent and greatly expand their vocabulary—a skill retained for life. Students taking science and engineering courses abroad will experience unique insight into how such courses impact that country. Past Harvey Mudd students echo that studying abroad has helped them to:
- Make new friends from across the globe
- Become more independent
- Take courses not offered at their home university
- Become more literate in global issues
- Acquire essential life skills
The Harvey Mudd Office of Study Abroad recognizes the important role that parents and family play in a student’s study abroad experience. Our goal is to provide resources to help families learn how to best support and encourage their student before, during and after the international experience. If you have questions about this experience, we encourage you to talk with your student and review the following resources. If you still have questions, we invite you to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 909.607.3993.
How can I help prepare my student as they plan to travel abroad?
Studying abroad can require a lot of preparation and paperwork prior to departure. Parents are a helpful resource to students as they organize, prepare, and embark on a journey that will undoubtedly be life-changing. Here are a few ways you can help:
- Encourage your student to have an abroad experience.
- Let your son or daughter do the leg work. It’s very tempting to do it for them, we know. You may feel if you do it, it’s done, and it’s done right. But your son or daughter is now considered officially an adult. Take a step back and allow them to the homework, order the passport, complete the applications. Yes, they may have a very busy schedule and Harvey Mudd, but all of this adds to their self-confidence and also establishes the independence they will need while abroad. If you cannot get them to do this, maybe they’re not yet mature enough to take this step.
- Read through the requirements and details of the program with your student before they leave.
- Learn about the country or region with your student to become aware of cultural customs, current events, and expectations. Talk about its politics, its history, its art or literature. The more one knows about the destination, the more interesting the trip will be.
- Ask your student to share the pre-departure orientation materials with you.
- Pay attention to important due dates.
- Remind them to keep an open mind and encourage them to make the most of their experience.
What forms are required by Harvey Mudd College?
Once your student has been accepted to study abroad, we encourage you to work with them on the forms that must be completed and arrangements that must be made. Students are required to turn in all forms by November 30 (for spring study abroad) or April 30 (for fall study abroad). A list of the required forms is found below and also in the Approved Applicants section.
- Program Provider Acceptance Letter
- Harvey Mudd Program Acceptance Letter
- Assumption of Risk, Waiver of Liability and Indemnity Agreement
- Course Approval Form
- Study Abroad Checklist
- Special Needs or Disability
- HMC Health Screening
- Insurance Authorization
- Contact Information
- Emergency Card
- Passport copy*
Students must also provide the OSA with a copy of their passport with visa stamps. Additionally, we encourage each student to provide a copy of their passport and emergency card to their family and to also keep copies with them while abroad. Should you need to contact your student’s abroad program, you will have the abroad and domestic information at your fingertips.
What documents are needed to travel abroad?
The actual documents your student will need vary depending on the location of the program. The study abroad program sponsor will contact your student with official pre-departure information. In all cases, your student will fill out any applications and should make all necessary appointments for each document well in advance as it can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to complete the process.
The most widely used form of identification used for international travel is a passport. Almost all foreign countries require that visitors have a passport. For more information regarding the application/renewal process, check out the U.S. Department of Stats (USDOS) website, or call the National Passport Information Center at 187.748.72778.
A visa is a permit from an international country that allows visitors to enter and leave their borders and may be required for the chosen program or by any countries that the student plans to visit while traveling independently. Visas often list planned travel dates and do expire, so be sure to have these dates available when applying. Visit the USDOS website for more information about visas and how to apply.
Note: If it is required, a visa must be obtained prior to departure. The program sponsor will provide your student with the necessary visa information and documents needed to apply. You may also visit the webpage on your local consulate for information.
International Certificate of Vaccinations
The student may be required to obtain a number of different vaccinations prior to entering a foreign country. The list of required vaccinations and facilities that can provide these vaccinations should be obtained from the program sponsor. When traveling to developing countries, the following vaccinations are usually required: typhoid fever, hepatitis A and B, cholera and yellow fever. Anti-malarial medication may also be recommended. It is also suggested that a list of childhood immunizations be obtained from your family physician (these may include: tetanus, polio, diphtheria, etc.) and update these immunizations if needed.
International Student Identity Card (ISIC)
Although not usually required, the ISIC may be a valuable document for which to apply. In addition to identifying your child as a student, it may help him/her qualify for discounts on airfare, travel insurance, medical and health assistance, and entrance fees to museums and other cultural sites around the world. This card can be purchased through various Web sites, travel agencies or from many US colleges and universities.
Who is responsible for making travel arrangements?
While some study abroad program fees include air transportation, in most cases, your student will be responsible for making his/her travel arrangements. Group flights, where students meet up with other students participating on the same program and travel to their abroad destination together, are also an available option for some programs. There are times where students will be picked up from the airport by the program staff while other students may need to use local transportation to find their way from the airport to their housing or the host campus. It is a good idea to make flight arrangements well in advance, especially during busy travel months. See the Study Abroad FAQs for more detailed information.
Tips for Purchasing Airline Tickets
Many countries list a round-trip ticket as one of their visa entry requirements. Even though you may not know when you want to return home and you may have to pay a surcharge to change your return ticket, it is still cheaper to buy the round-trip ticket instead of buying two one-way tickets. Shop carefully to find a flight that best suits your needs. Compare the price of open-ended tickets, in which you return at any point within a specified length of time, with the price of a ticket bearing a stated return date. If you are planning to travel on your own after your program ends, you might want to investigate “open jaw” fares, which let you return from a different location from your point of arrival. STA Travel is an excellent source of information about student travel. With your International Student Identity Card, you can sometimes get up to 50 percent off of commercial airfares through STA Travel. See the STA Travel website for more information and available travel services.
Can I pay for my student’s trip using air miles?
Harvey Mudd College’s travel reimbursement policy applies to the actual cash purchase of an airfare ticket. Although you are welcome to use frequent flyer miles, the College does not provide reimbursement for them.
Does my son/daughter need to buy travel or property insurance?
Travel or property insurance is not required, but can be useful in the case of travel delays or loss/theft. The iNext insurance has additional plans which offer travel insurance. You can also check with your insurance company to see if your home owner’s policy covers your child’s property when they are abroad. When purchasing a plane ticket, you can usually add on travel insurance.
What do other parents have to say about the value of study abroad?
Studying abroad is indeed a family affair. The process of helping your student plan his/her study abroad can be both exciting and perhaps a little terrifying. Many Harvey Mudd families have experienced these emotions as well as the transformation of their student as they return home. We have comments from a number of wonderful Harvey Mudd parents show have participated on the same journey on which you are embarking.
What should I know about “reverse culture shock”?
While abroad, your student may have experienced “culture shock.” This well-studied phenomenon refers to the loss of emotional equilibrium suffered when one leaves a familiar environment, especially when moving between countries or cultures. Now, as your student returns home, “reverse culture shock” can occur and can be, for some students, a more difficult transition.
Although the symptoms of reverse culture shock are similar to those of initial culture shock, they are often unexpected. The symptoms can vary in severity and may include minor illnesses, depression, withdrawal, lethargy, and excessive longing to go abroad again. Your student may be concerned about the pressures of returning to Harvey Mudd College, sorting out transfer credits, adjusting to the next academic year, and/or planning for life beyond graduation.
It is not uncommon for returning students to be surprised that life at Harvey Mudd has continued without them and to find that they are out of touch with happenings and people on campus. In addition your student may be eager to talk about his/her experiences abroad, but his/her friends who did not study abroad may not be as eager to listen and may not understand where your student has been – both in a physical and psychological sense. These are all normal reactions and part of the re-entry process.
In order to help returning students with re-entry or reverse culture shock, our office offers various events and opportunities. One of our first events is the Welcome Back Dinner where returnees are invited to come and talk, laugh, and reflect about their time abroad. We ask returning students to participate in the fall “Mudd Around The World” (MATW) event and to become our “expert” advisors at pre-departure orientations.
Returned study abroad students are encouraged to join our Global Ambassador group, where they can become mentors to students interested in studying abroad. There are also opportunities to lead dorm info sessions, do a presentation with our “Destination” series, and participate in the Admitted Students Program etc. We hope they will also see international learning can be a permanent and evolving part of their lives.
As parents, you can help by continuing to offer patience, love and support as you did throughout your student’s time abroad. You might also wish to consult the School for International Training’s parent’s re-entry guide (PDF). We feel the SIT handbook is a good resource from which parents of students returning from any study abroad program can benefit.
In the end, most students readjust quite well with time. Please know that our office, as well as a variety of Harvey Mudd and Claremont College resources are available to assist your student with the transition back to campus and to the United States. Thank you again for your encouragement and support of study abroad and international education.
Will my student graduate on time?
The study abroad program is designed to support normal matriculation in four years. Students are required to take a full course load while abroad.
When will my student’s courses transfer?
Students have all courses pre-approved by their advisors prior to departure. If the student’s schedule changes while abroad, they are instructed to send an email to their advisor, the registrar’s office and the OSA with any new course additions. If the course is approved, it will transfer back accordingly. Students are responsible for obtaining the required minimum grade to receive credit for each course.
When will my student receive his/her grades?
Depending on the program, it usually takes between 6-8 weeks to receive transcripts from abroad. In some cases, it can take even longer. Once transcripts are ready, they are first sent to the program provider’s academic department and then to the home university for processing. Information on this can be found on the program provider’s website.
What is the cost of participating in a Harvey Mudd study abroad program ?
Harvey Mudd College hopes that all student decisions to study abroad will be driven by academic rather than financial factors. Accordingly, students are charged the Harvey Mudd tuition and a study abroad fee that is equal to the cost of room and board (12-meal plan) at the College. This fee covers the costs of the academic program, reasonable room and board in the host country and an allowance for round-trip transportation priced from Los Angeles Airport (LAX) to the program site. An allowance for international health insurance may also be provided.
What if the program fees are different than Harvey Mudd fees?
Overall, the study abroad program’s direct costs incurred by Harvey Mudd College exceeds the tuition and room and board, net of financial aid collected by the College. Because the College recognizes the importance of studying abroad, the difference in cost is subsidized by the operating budget. This will vary on a per student basis depending on the student’s financial aid award and the costs of the program.
At times, there are differences between the study abroad fees and the tuition charges at Harvey Mudd. The reason for this is that the study abroad program itself primarily equates to the instructional component of the educational experience. Historically, instruction-related expenses have averaged a little over 40 percent of total expenses for the College.
The student studying abroad, however, continues to have access to the resources provided by:
- Division of Student Affairs, including Residence Life
- Student Health and Wellness
- Office of Diversity
- Office of Academic Affairs, including ongoing academic advising
- Computing and Information Services, including email and network access as well as Help Desk support
- Office of Study Abroad
- Office of Career Services Office
When students study abroad, they continue rely on various individuals on campus, including faculty for advising-related matters and our staff in several departments. Additionally, our office of study abroad remains engaged with the students and the hosting institutions. Depending on the circumstances, our director of study abroad has visited a number of host institutions in order to meet the onsite staff and review the program offerings. In addition to direct staff support available to the student, Harvey Mudd College incurs costs related to travel tracking programs as well as medical and security evacuation insurance that the College has obtained in case of emergencies. The difference in charges also covers regular ongoing costs of the institution, such as the offices of the president, the registrar, student accounts, and business affairs. These offices and divisions remain necessary for the student to have a successful study abroad experience as well as a complete academic experience at Harvey Mudd.
The study abroad fee covers room and board (12-meal plan) related fees incurred while studying abroad as well as reimbursing the round trip travel for the student from LAX. The inclusion of the travel expenses often causes the study abroad charges to exceed the combined fee. And as mentioned previously, the difference in cost is subsidized by the College’s operating budget.
Health and Safety
With the current state of world affairs, it may be too dangerous for my student to study abroad. Why should I allow him/her to go?
No place is completely safe, not even living at home or going to Harvey Mudd. A number of parents may have similar feelings and we hope the article Parents Speak Up on Rising Concerns of Terrorism and Study Abroad will help ease your concerns.
Additionally, student health, safety and security is the College’s highest priority. The OSA regularly monitors the latest travel warning information from the U.S. Department of State and each study abroad program sponsor with which we partner has protocols in place should a crisis occur. Over 270,000 United States students earn credit abroad each year, and the vast majority have a wonderful and safe experience.
How can I help my student stay safe during the study abroad experience?
Institutions and organizations involved with student travel have always sought to protect the health and safety of those participating in international educational activities. In the last few years, this effort has become better coordinated and more comprehensive. There are a number of articles on the internet, and we’ve included some in the resources section of the OSA website. Ultimately, it’s important for students to understand their role in the safety abroad process, and we invite you to review some tips for students on the Health and Safety page.
Will my student be able to communicate without having a firm grasp of the language?
It is possible that wherever the student goes, he/she will be able to find someone that speaks even a little English, but it is always beneficial for the student to make every effort to learn the local language, or at least some key phrases. This will enable your student to make the most out of the study abroad experience. If your student is not comfortable with the language, he/she can either enroll in an intensive language class prior to departure or select a program where the courses are taught in English. There are also a number of phone apps that make language translation a little easier.
Why does one need study abroad health insurance?
Most universities and exchange organizations require that all students have a good health insurance plan while studying outside of their home country. During their study abroad experience, the student may need to see a doctor, have a prescription filled, receive care at a hospital, or deal with an unexpected medical emergency. The medical benefits provided under a Study Abroad Student Health plan can help protect your student against these unforeseeable circumstances.
As mentioned on the Emergency Procedures and Protocols page, all students are required to have personal health insurance. In addition, Harvey Mudd College provides each student with the Basic iNext insurance plan which includes a worldwide travel assistance service offering emergency medical evacuation and repatriation of mortal remains. In some instances, students may also receive global student health insurance as part of the study abroad program.
What happens if my son/daughter needs to see a doctor while abroad?
The student should contact his/her program director immediately, if they need to see a doctor. The program staff will have a 24/7 cell phone, and students should be able to reach someone any time of day. During on-site orientation, students will receive information about where to go if they need medical attention. Some programs even have special agreements with specific doctors and clinics.
If the program provides medical insurance for students, it will be used during time of service. If the student is required to use their own insurance, they should plan to pay for all medical costs up front and get reimbursed by the insurance company later.
Receipts for all medical visits should be kept and submitted to the insurance company along with a claim form. As a reminder, Harvey Mudd College provides each student with the Basic iNext insurance plan and while it does not offer travel/property insurance, it may help offset some of the costs not covered by the student’s personal insurance. Students can pay to upgrade to a plan that offers additional benefits.
It is very expensive to send my daughter/son to study in a foreign country. How can I help them get this experience?
Understanding the required fees and knowing that there will be extra expenses is an important first step in planning for a study abroad program. Because Harvey Mudd College hopes that all student decisions to study abroad will be driven by academic rather than financial factors, study abroad students are charged the Harvey Mudd tuition and a study abroad fee that is equal to the cost of room and board (12-meal plan) at the College. This fee covers the costs of the academic program, reasonable room and board in the host country and an allowance for round-trip transportation priced from Los Angeles Airport (LAX) to the program site. An allowance for international health insurance may also be provided.
Are there scholarships/funding available to help with international travel expenses?
There are a number of funding/scholarship resources offered through the program sponsors and private organizations. It’s best to research them early so that your student doesn’t miss the application date.
Will there be unanticipated costs?
Yes! Students should always be prepared for unanticipated costs. Independent travel, personal expenses (beyond typical meal expenses), supplies/books, passport/visa applications, baggage fees, flight change fees etc. These expenses vary from program to program and from person to person. Book costs are usually significantly less than the U.S. because most overseas institutions/programs provide the texts at low cost or use a more extensive library reserve system.
Student service fees (such as gym membership, student activity fees, student club fees, etc.) are required from the host university or host program as needed. Typically, these fees can be paid on-site by the student depending the student’s interest.
Some wireless and internet charges are covered by the program, while others may be an additional charge. Wireless/internet access may be slower than at Harvey Mudd. Bedding, linens, and apartment supplies are also usually provided by the host institution/program; where they are not, the host institution will generally offer a bedding pack for a small fee.
Some of our partner organizations provide additional “optional” excursions that are not a part of the regular academic program. These optional excursions can be bought by the student on-site, and usually involve group travel to some local and international destinations at the end of the semester (example: a group travel trip to Morocco as an optional excursion when studying abroad in Spain). All fees are paid directly to the host provider(s). Any cancellations or refunds are therefore at the student’s discretion.
How much spending money is needed?
The amount of money that will be needed for the trip depends on the expenses that the student may be required to pay while abroad. It is a good idea to create a budget prior to departure that separates any known living and school expenses such as local transportation and text books from general spending money that can be used for independent travel, tourist attraction entrance fees and souvenirs.
The program sponsor’s website is an excellent resource in understanding these fees as well as finding suggestions on budgeting money, estimates of how much to bring for a semester, local transportation costs etc. Keep in mind that having a budget does not mean that the student needs to have to carry cash around for each of these expenses – just know about how much is allotted to each so money for meals is not spent carelessly on souvenirs!
“Traveling with large amounts of cash is not recommended.” – ‘It’s Your World’ handbook.
The student should consider using several different forms of payment for expenses. Credit cards, ATM cards and cash are accepted almost everywhere. Although U.S. dollars are also widely accepted throughout the world, the student should make every attempt to use the local currency.
Where can the student exchange money?
To obtain foreign currency, any of the following can be used:
Airport Exchange Bureau
Currency exchange offices are available at almost all international airports. Although the rates may not be the lowest, it is probably the most convenient location to exchange money when the student first arrives. Note: because the destination airport is certain to have a large supply of the local currency, its rates for exchange may be lower than the rates at the student’s home airport, which may only have a limited supply of the foreign currency.
After the student has had a chance to get accustomed to his/her new surroundings, a national bank or an ATM can be found, which are known to offer the lowest exchange rates. Using a credit card can also secure a decent exchange rate and is often safer than carrying around a lot of cash. American Express, Visa (the most widely accepted of the three major credit cards) and Master Card are all widely accepted around the world. Keep in mind, however, that using an ATM/debit card may incur additional bank/commission charges.
Local Stores and Restaurants
Travelers checks, though not used as much, can be used for payment at a variety of stores or restaurants (check ahead to identify locations where they can be cashed). If U.S. dollar travelers checks are being used instead of foreign currency traveler’s checks, make sure the student knows the merchant’s exchange rate and is aware of how much change should be returned to them.
With all the money changing options available, the best thing the student can do is to be an educated traveler. Know what the current exchange rate is and be able to calculate how much should be receive in return for each transaction. Also, be safe when carrying money and do not carry all of it at once.
See the tips below from the ‘It’s Your World’ guide:
To keep your money as safe as possible, take the following precautions: Exchange money only in banks or other authorized exchange bureaus. Never exchange it on the black market. Carry only as much money as you need for a day. Use the same precautions when using ATMs (automated teller machines) as you would at home. The safest units to use are those inside banks or other buildings. Don’t leave your purse unattended, even for a moment. Tuck it firmly under your arm; if it has a long strap, wear it across your chest rather than let it dangle off your shoulder. In some areas, a waist pouch or money belt may be the safest way to carry money, especially if it is worn under your clothing.
What are travelers checks and where can they be obtained/used?
Traveler’s checks can be purchased at a bank or local travel agency (American Express, AAA, etc.) in a variety of denominations and currencies. They can be used for payment at many local establishments or can be exchanged for cash at any bank or exchange agency. Traveler’s checks come in both U.S. dollars and in many foreign currencies and can be replaced, if lost or stolen. Make sure to keep a list of the serial numbers from each check in a safe place so it can be given to the bank representative for replacement! Some say traveler’s checks are obsolete (see The Death of the Traveler’s Check?) while some say they serve a specific purpose (see Traveler’s Checks). You decide!
Food and Housing
What are the housing options?
The housing options depend entirely upon the program that is being offered. Many students are expected to live on campus in either single or double occupancy dorm rooms. Others may have the option to live off campus in apartments or participate in a home stay and live in the home of a nearby family. If the student is expected to arrange his/her own housing, ask for recommendations from the sponsoring institution because student housing in foreign countries is not always easy to come by and may be expensive. It is also a good idea to find out what is included in the housing package (meals, linens, etc.) so your student will not be caught off guard with any unexpected expenses.
Where will my student eat?
Depending on the arrangements of your student’s program, he/she might be eating meals with their host family, cooking in apartment kitchens, or taking meals in the university restaurants/cafeterias/pubs.
What will the food be like?
Chances are, the food in the country abroad is not going to be like the food many of us are used to eating at home. Although this can be a wonderful part of the experience, it may be difficult or even painful for some. Be sure to follow the host school or host family’s guidelines about what precautions to take when sampling local foods and drinks.
Note: in areas where it is not safe to drink the water, remember that ice, fruit juices and even vegetables and fruits washed in the water should be avoided if at all possible.
Your student will be surprised, however, to find that many popular fast food chain restaurants from the United States can also be found all over the world! Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention travel website for more information about food and water precautions.
For students with special diets, great care should be given when selecting a study abroad location. In some countries it’s fairly easy to stick to a vegetarian diet or avoid nuts or wheat, while in other countries, nuts or meats like pork are added to many food items. Work with your student to research the dietary norms of his/her locations of interest. The Office of Study Abroad is also happy to provide guidance.
What are the common means of transportation while abroad?
The chosen program may have a pre-departure and in-country orientation package or session, which will explain the various means of transportation available in that particular location. In Europe, train or subway are popular options. In other countries, taxis, mopeds or bicycles may be the cheapest and most direct choice. Wherever the student goes it is a good idea to know the local taxi rates and to negotiate a fair deal prior to departing. For independent travel in Europe, check out Rail Europe for information on rail passes. All information about travel and transportation can also be found at your travel agency.
The study abroad country is so far away. How will I keep in touch with my student?
Fortunately there are a lot of good options: There’s always the traditional ways of phone calls and emails. There’s also Skype or Facetime, which your student will be able to set up, and you’ll have both visual and verbal contact for no and a very low charge.
There are also apps that allow you to text for free over wifi. And who knows? Some parents go to visit their child at the end of their study abroad experience and this can be a great opportunity to see where your child has been. Chances are they will be delighted to share the place with you.
My son/daughter was supposed to call me as soon as he/she arrived. I haven’t heard from him/her yet and I am worried.
Try not to panic. Most students simply are not cognizant of how much their parents are worrying about them. They are tired from traveling or are busy trying to get settled in. Sometimes it takes a few days for students to set up internet or phone service. If you are concerned, please email the program provider or the Office of Study Abroad. We will reach out to your student and let you know that we have reached him/her, and ask him/her to contact you.
What if there is an emergency?
In the Preparation section above, we discussed specific forms each student should provide to their family. Feel free to review this information. The Contact section below provides ways to reach Harvey Mudd College, including after hours.
Plan ahead for ways to regularly contact your student, such as international calling cards, inexpensive phone plans, Skype (computer calling), email or instant messaging.
Be familiar with the program sponsor’s plan in case of emergency. Your student should also have his or her own emergency plan and should—at all times—carry emergency information cards (which include contact phone numbers and alternative methods of contact in case of an emergency). Emergency cards with local in-country information are typically provided by the program provider; however, Harvey Mudd students are also given personal emergency cards to complete. Students are instructed to provide a copy of this card to their immediate family and to our office.
Have the contact information for the OSA handy. We are here to help! In case of an after hours emergency, students and families may call the Harvey Mudd dean on call at 909.717.7157 or Campus Safety at 909.607.2000. Parents can find the aforementioned numbers, along with several others, on the Contact Information Sheet provided by your students.