Why should my student study abroad?
Getting a college education is about so much more than just earning a degree. A well-balanced education also includes knowledge and understanding of the world and learning how to become a contributing global citizen. Study abroad allows students to grow and learn in ways not possible in a classroom. Students gain cultural, historical and geographical knowledge through their experiences abroad, and they begin to look at themselves and the world differently. In addition, study abroad provides students with the opportunity to better understand, evaluate, and appreciate their own culture and values. Through study abroad, students can:
- Increase their career prospects and job marketability
- Develop leadership skills through interaction with a broad array of individuals
- Enhance academic focus and research opportunities
- Improve their foreign language proficiency
- Increase their understanding of other people and cultures
- Learn to navigate different environments
- Gain independence and self-reliance
Is financial aid available for study abroad?
In most cases students are able to use at least some of the same financial aid packages they receive at SHSU for study abroad. SHSU offers special scholarship money specifically designed to help make study abroad possible. The Study Abroad Coordinator can help direct students toward available resources for funding study abroad and let them know which programs will be eligible for financial aid.
Are provisions made, or support services available, for students with special needs?
If your student has special needs, they will want to ask questions about any special services, accommodations, etc. they may require or be accustomed to receiving on their home campus.
Many countries have provisions comparable but not necessarily equal to those provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); often they are not as extensive and generous as those in the United States. Knowing in advance what kinds of assistance will or will not be available is important in assuring that your student has a pleasant and safe experience abroad. The National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange (NCDE) at Mobility International USA has information about programs that are willing and able to assist students with special needs.
What do I need to know about health and safety concerns abroad?
Your student’s health and safety are our top priorities while they study abroad. Whether they are participating in a Faculty-led Study Abroad Program, an Exchange Program, or an Affiliated Program you will find important information on our Health and Safety Abroad page concerning health and safety while abroad. All SHSU students are required to attend pre-departure orientations in which health and safety abroad are covered in more detail.
What can I do to support my student while they are abroad?
Fortunately, technology and social media make staying in touch more convenient than ever. However, we hope you'll encourage your student to make their own decisions while abroad and allow them to become fully immersed in a foreign culture. This fosters independence, builds confidence, and increases problem solving skills. Ask your student to communicate regularly with their program coordinator. Answer your student's questions, offer advice, and as always, listen. Be prepared for your student to experience an array of emotions throughout their study abroad experience.
If your student is busy and fully engaged in the study abroad experience, they will have less time to spend e-mailing or calling you and their friends back home. This is a positive thing, and should be viewed as such by you. Encourage your student to communicate with you when they can, and to tell you about all the new sights they are seeing and things they are learning. This will help them make the most of their experience abroad.
What is culture shock and how can it be managed?
Almost everyone who participates in a study abroad program (or who travels abroad in any other context for that matter) is almost certain, to a greater or lesser degree, to experience culture shock at certain moments in the process.
Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines culture shock as "a sense of confusion and uncertainty sometimes with feelings of anxiety that may affect people exposed to an alien culture or environment without adequate preparation." Most study abroad professionals would hasten to add that even with adequate preparation, experiencing culture shock intermittently throughout the period of study abroad (especially in the beginning) is a normal part of the experience. In fact, unpleasant and disorienting though the experience may be at times, culture shock actually presents students with some of the best opportunities they will have for exactly the kind of intercultural learning and personal growth that is one of the best, and most lasting, benefits of study abroad.
There are 5 stages of culture shock. During stage 1, everything is new, fun and exciting. As time goes by however, students may run into difficulties including language barriers and adjusting to their new living situations. These frustrations are indicative of stage 2. More time passes and students gain a better understanding of the culture and adapt to their new environment (stage 3). Stage 4 of culture shock involves a comparison and analysis of the pros and cons of each culture. Returning students often experience the final stage, reverse culture shock. They've adapted to their host country and feel like a stranger at home. As is expected, these feelings subside with time. Remind your student that their feelings are normal and a part of the process.