Frequently Asked Questions For Parents and Family Members
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.
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.
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.
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.
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