The International Programs Office is student-centered. We purposefully strive to communicate with and send all correspondence to students. Students are the individuals who will be abroad and are responsible for themselves in a foreign country. While we are pleased to meet with parents and family members to answer questions, in many cases, we cannot share information out of respect for FERPA student privacy regulations. Funnel your questions through your student, having him/her serve as the family representative. When sharing your questions with your student, discuss why you have questions about a particular topic and what implications different answers could have. This process helps your student reach the next stage of maturity and become more independent.
The benefits of learning abroad are both academic and developmental. Pre-departure responsibilities help students exercise problem-solving skills that they will need to rely heavily upon once they are abroad, as well as to cope with the challenges of the "real world" after they graduate. Sometimes a student's question won't be answered directly, but instead they'll be referred to a website or an E-mail. This is good practice in using resources available to them to find answers, handling ambiguous situations and deciphering indirect communication, all of which they will encounter abroad. Students are proud of what they learn they can accomplish on their own, and often surprise themselves with the numerous opportunities for personal, professional and academic growth that takes place before, during and after their study abroad experience.
*adapted from the University of Minnesota Learning Abroad Center