Before Departure

Review Parent Study Abroad Guides and Resources

  • IIE Parent Study Abroad Guide (in English and Spanish)
  • Each ISEP Country Handbook includes a bibliography to help you prepare for your ISEP Experience. Links to provide easy access to these resources, including the most recent guidebooks, regional literature, and books about the culture, history, and politics for each of the countries where there are ISEP members. Take a look around!

Sign up for Travel Alerts

See Emergencies and Crisis Awareness for more info.

Review the Materials in Your Student’s Acceptance Package Together

The ISEP Acceptance Package, the Pre-Departure section of your student’s ISEP account and Country Handbook contain important information on preparing for life at your student’s planned host institution.

Stay Up to Date on Health Insurance Coverage

We have designed a comprehensive international health insurance program to meet your student’s needs. All ISEP students and accompanying dependents are required to enroll in the ISEP insurance program (with some exceptions) as a condition of placement. This requirement will not be waived, even if your student is covered under another policy. The only way ISEP can ensure that all students are covered for the full study period abroad is by having them enroll in ISEP health insurance. It is impossible for ISEP to review individual health insurance policies and verify that each student is adequately covered. The ISEP health insurance includes benefits that family health insurance may not, such as medical evacuation, repatriation, referral to physicians and hospitals abroad, and emergency assistance.

Walk Through the Student Visa Process

Verify that your student knows how to obtain a student visa and begins the application process as soon as possible. Visa information can be found in your student’s country handbook. It is the responsibility of your student to ensure that a visa is obtained in time for study abroad.

Discuss Health and Safety Problems Overseas

Discuss all of the health and safety information (s)he has received in his or her Acceptance Package and Country Handbook, and what precautions should be taken while abroad and when traveling on weekends and during academic breaks. Your student’s behavior and decisions are more likely to affect his/her health and safety than any general conditions in the host country.

Plan Out a Way to Keep in Touch

  • Set up a communication plan including emergency numbers both at home and abroad when possible.
  • Make sure you have working e-mail accounts and learn about the telephone and postal systems of your student’s host country.
  • Your student may also want to consider purchasing an unlocked GSM phone before departure as most countries offer affordable pay-as-you-go SIM card systems for cellular communication.
  • Once your student is on site, be flexible. Give him or her several days to contact you after arrival. It may take him/her a couple of days to settle in and figure things out. Consider setting up a weekly or bi-weekly time for phone calls.
  • A great free app for keeping in touch on your smartphone is whatsapp. Before your (s)he leaves, download the app on your and your student’s smartphone. Once they have arrived to their host site, all your s(he) will need is wifi to be able to call or SMS text you.
  • Find out what your long distance carrier’s rate is for that particular country and consider starting a Skype or Google Voice account.

While Abroad

Helping Your Student Cope With Culture Shock

Keep in mind that initial disorientation is a normal part of adjusting to a new culture. The frustration your student may feel will pass and (s)he will begin to enjoy his/her new experiences. While it may be disconcerting for you to watch your child go through this process, culture shock is a catalyst for self-growth that will help him/her develop an understanding of his/her host culture and of him/herself. Your child may call you complaining about all of the things in his/her host country that frustrate them or are not working.

Upon Return

Returning to the Home Institution

Make sure your student plans ahead for their return and finds out what they will need to do to arrange for financial aid, pre-registration and housing. Taking these steps will facilitate their adjustment to the home institution.

Reverse Culture Shock

Upon return, your student may feel slightly disoriented or out of place; it may be similar to what (s)he felt when (s)he arrived in his/her host country. This is called return shock or reverse culture shock. These feelings are temporary and completely normal. Returnees are often disappointed about the lack of interest in hearing about their experiences abroad or looking at their photos of friends and exotic sites. It may be easier for the student to cope with reverse culture shock if they remember that it is a necessary and valuable part of a study abroad experience — and that it will not last forever!