Studying abroad can be one of the most exciting and life-changing experiences of your son or daughter's life, and we understand that it can be a big step for the entire family.
Your student will work with our staff during the application, pre-departure, overseas, and return experience. The Office of Study Abroad will communicate directly with him or her via email, phone, and our online application management system. Your student is advised to refer to his or her application frequently for program updates, to submit required program materials, to ask questions, et cetera. While parents can always contact the Office of Study Abroad, we do urge students to take ownership of the process themselves to get them started on the right track for a study abroad experience.
A few expectations we have of your student:
- Communicate: with us, with you, and with the host university (if applicable);
- Meet deadlines: it is important for your student to submit forms on time and make payments according to the payment schedule. Our deadline for most winter/spring programs is October 1st and for most summer/fall programs is February 15th. Specific application deadlines are available on the individual program pages.
- Make the most of their time abroad: studying abroad can be life-changing and we hope your student take advantage of all the opportunities offered to get the most out of his or her experience.
A few expectations we have of you, as parents:
- Realize that the majority of our communications should be directly with your son or daughter, but feel free to ask us for clarification or program updates;
- Keep open communication with your student about the details of his or her study abroad program that includes, but is not limited to, academic information, travel arrangements, and finances;
- Empower your son or daughter, through support and guidance, to take the lead in managing his or her own study abroad experience;
- Understand FERPA regulations as they apply to dissemination of student information; please know that for your student’s safety, we are obliged to follow federal law. Please see here for more information about FERPA.
If your son or daughter has a physical, mental, or learning condition, illness, or limitation, we strongly encourage him or her to contact us immediately to let us know the nature of the condition. Even if he or she is sure the condition is under control, it is best to alert us so that we can take any precautions necessary to ensure your student’s safety and well-being. Sacred Heart does not discriminate against students with disabilities or special needs and encourages participation in a study abroad program. Disclosing to us will have no effect on acceptance, rather it will help us to be better able to help your student find a program or accommodate a program to his or her needs.
If your son or daughter does not have a United States passport, or it will expire within six months of his or her program end date, please encourage him or her to apply for one immediately. The processing time for a passport is approximately 4-6 weeks. Current timelines for routine and expedited service and information on passport requirements may be found on the United States Department of State website. Please note, your student will need to supply a copy of the passport information page as part of the study abroad application process.
It is a good idea to make two photocopies of the passport page that contains the photo, passport number, and other vital details. Keep one copy at home with you, while your student will carry the other copy abroad in a location separate from the actual passport. If your student loses his or her passport, these copies will make it easier to obtain a replacement from the nearest American Embassy or Consulate.
Visas and Residence Permits
What is a VISA? What is a residence permit? Does my student need one?
A visa is a stamp in the passport that allows the individual to enter a country for a specified period of time. Without this stamp, he or she could be turned away at the border. A residency permit is something the student applies for once they enter the host country. The following programs require visas:
- Australia- University of Notre Dame Australia
- China- short term summer program
- Dominican Republic- CIEE semester program
- India- short-term winter program
- Ireland- SHU in Dingle (semester program only)
- Ireland- Mary Immaculate College
- Ireland- National University of Ireland Maynooth
- Italy- John Cabot University (semester program only)
- Webster University, all programs except Leiden (Leiden requires a residency permit)
Remember, it is the student’s responsibility to comply with the visa requirements of the host country. Depending on the country, the visa application process can take up to three months to complete. The application process can be unpredictable so it is a good idea to start the process early. The study abroad office will help advise with the visa requirements and process.
Information Your Son or Daughter Should Leave with You
Below you will find the information that your student should leave with you or another family member before departure:
- The name, address, and phone number of Office of Study Abroad in Fairfield. See our contact page for details;
- The address and contact information for the campus abroad, as well as his or her phone number in housing (if applicable; not all programs list the housing address);
- The emergency phone number for the on-site program director (if applicable), which students receive prior to departure;
- Your student’s bank account and credit card information, if your student wishes for you to access his or her accounts while abroad;
- Copies of travel documents: passport, visa, etc.;
- Round trip flight information.
It is a good idea to keep abreast of the official currency used in the host country and of the approximate rate of exchange to the United States dollar. You can find the current exchange rate for most international currencies at www.xe.com.
Debit or ATM Cards
It is not common or necessary for students to open a bank account abroad unless they will be abroad for the academic year. Most of the time, students will rely on credit cards and ATM withdrawals. Remember, depending on your bank, there may be an international transaction fee or currency conversion charge each time your student withdraws from the local ATM. Therefore, it may be a good idea to take out larger quantities than normal and use it as necessary instead of swiping a credit card for each purchase.
A few important tips:
- Your student should always contact his or her bank and credit card companies to let them know that he or she will be abroad for “x” amount of time and visiting “x” countries;
- The money withdraw abroad will be in the local currency;
- Ask your bank about daily spending limits, rates and fees for international use of your cards, and possible locations of your bank or its affiliate branches abroad;
- Encourage your student to leave a photocopy of both sides of credit and debit cards at home with you so if necessary, you can quickly report any card problems and initiate the replacement process if a card is lost.
Most student travelers should carry a minimum of one debit card and one credit card. Visa and MasterCard are very widely accepted around the world; American Express is less commonly accepted, too. Discover is rarely accepted abroad. As with debit cards, be sure to check the daily spending limit and expiration date on each of your cards before traveling abroad. Be sure to inform your credit card company of your travels. There is also the option to purchase an ISIC card with MasterCard features, described below. You can put money on your student’s card and he or she can use it as a debit card.
International Student Identity Card
The International Student Identity Card (ISIC), available through STA Travel, is issued and recognized in over 90 countries and gives one access to student benefits around the world. This card can provide students with largely discounted rates on travel and hotels/hostels, admission to local cites of interest, such as museums and festivals, a free emergency hotline that provides legal, medical or general emergency advice and more. The ISIC can be purchased for a discount at the SHU study abroad office. There is also the option for an ISIC card with MasterCard features; you can put money on your student’s card and he or she can use it as a debit. Please see here for more ISIC card information.
Traveler’s checks are processed at a less favorable exchange rate and higher transaction fee compared to using a debit card at an ATM. Traveler’s checks are not recommended as a primary means of accessing cash abroad.
If desired, you can order small amounts of foreign currency from a commercial bank or AAA prior to leaving the United States (allow a few days processing time), or your student can obtain it at a currency exchange window in the airport prior to leaving the United States or upon arrival in the host country. Check with your bank for this service.