Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions For Parents and Family Members

Why should my student study abroad?
Studying abroad is an occasion to learn about another country, its culture and its people, while either earning academic credit or participating in a non-credit opportunity. Additionally, this experience provides a chance to learn about oneself in the context of the world community.
How does the CIE Study Abroad Office support study abroad students?
The staff of the CIE Study Abroad Office work individually with each student to address specific needs and concerns before, during and after their experience abroad. Whatever type of program your family member or friend has chosen, we hope that the information in this section, and throughout our website, helps you understand their unique experience. Further, we hope that it allows you to provide the support at home that your participant needs to enjoy a rich and profound experience abroad. If you or your student have questions, please feel free to contact us.
What is FERPA?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of students’ educational records. Educational records include financial information, health information, academic or nonacademic misconduct matters, study abroad program and application information. This law prevents the UWM, including the CIE Study Abroad Office from releasing information considered confidential under this law without the student’s prior written consent.

Students may choose to complete a FERPA Release form which would allow UWM to release information to anyone of the student’s choice during or in connection with their study abroad.  The form must be complete and signed before a Notary Public in order to be considered valid. Visit the Travel Services page for more information.

Other offices/departments on campus (i.e. Norris, Financial Aid, etc.) may require a separate release in order for them to release their specific records. Check with those departments directly for their requirements.

How will we stay in touch?
It is important to discuss plans for communication with your student before he or she leaves the country.

The first step is to plan when and how your student will contact you upon arrival in his or her host country. Depending where the student is studying, the easiest way may be to purchase a phone and phone card in country. Please be patient. It often takes time for students to purchase a phone and get internet access in their housing abroad.

It is also important to have a system in place for getting in touch in case of an emergency. What is the best way for you to get in touch with your student and vice versa? There are many ways to stay in touch, like e-mail. International calling may be expensive. Skype is a great alternative that allows you to call phones and chat via voice and even web cameras.

Please keep in mind that the more time students spend communicating with family and friends back home, the less time they spend immersing themselves in their host culture, one of the most important aspects of the study abroad experience. If your student is engaged in the host culture and study abroad experience, he or she will likely contact you with less frequency. Though you will miss your student, we encourage you to view the fact that he or she is engaged abroad as a positive thing. We recommend encouraging your student to communicate when he or she can and to tell you about all of the things he or she is learning and experiencing. This will help your student to make the most of the study abroad experience while still including you.

How do I contact my student in case of an emergency?
Before your student leaves, be sure to discuss how you will contact each other in case of an emergency. It is also a good idea to have contact information for the program and the CIE Study Abroad Office at UWM.
Will they be safe?
It is no more possible to guarantee a student’s safety abroad than it is to so here on our campus in Milwaukee. Students can, and often do, engage in high-risk behavior. However, prior to their participation on a study abroad program all participants go through pre-departure orientations to learn not only best practices for staying safe while abroad, they also learn about the specific destination(s) to which they may be traveling.

In preparing our students, we emphasize the behaviors and precautions they can  take to reduce their risk. Many problems can be avoided by using common sense and good judgment. For your part, you can research the destinations on your loved one’s itinerary. Rest assured, we in the CIE Study Abroad Office are doing the same, and then some, and we will not send students to a dangerous area.

Additionally, the CIE Study Abroad maintains an on-call response team, and has emergency response protocols to support our programs and students whatever the problem may be. In turn, programs also have their own specific plans that address the local context, and can be activated in case students need assistance.

What if a student gets homesick?
Your student will probably experience some degree of homesickness while they are gone. This is totally normal. Being supportive and positive in addition to encouraging them to make friends and try new things will help them adjust.

Please be aware that students are far more likely to call home in times of frustration. Please try to frame their frustrations in a positive light because they are part of the study abroad experience and contribute to their growth. It is always important to encourage your student to stay positive and to work things out on his or her own. Please try to avoid getting overly involved. Just listening to and supporting your student is often more helpful than trying to resolve the problem from overseas. Remember that because students are more likely to call during times of frustration, you may not hear from your student that the situation has improved. Please make sure to confirm with your student that problems have not been resolved before contacting the CIE Study Abroad Office or the program. Patience is extremely important.

How can I help my student re-enter and readjust?
Just like your student will probably experience some degree of culture shock when they are abroad, it is completely normal and very likely that they may experience some reverse culture shock while the readjust to home. They will have changed and certainly their perspective will have changed as well. It is important to be supportive and understanding as they readjust. Students may contact the CIE Study Abroad Office should they need additional assistance.

Further information on Re-adjusting to the USA.

How can they use and market their experience?
Study abroad is a great addition to a resume! In addition, your student may find that they are interested in more globally-focused careers. Students are strongly encouraged to share their education abroad experiences with future employers.

Learn how to sell your international experience!

Visit the full Frequently Asked Questions page for more.