Parents and Families
Study abroad is an exciting and unique chapter in a Rice student's undergraduate education. Moreover, for many students, study abroad is a life-changing experience, a time of tremendous academic and personal growth.
Rice International Programs recognizes the important role that parents and family play in a student's study abroad experience. Our goal is to provide resources to help families learn how to best support and encourage their student before, during, and after the international experience, as they learn to navigate a new city, culture and way of life.
Our office works with students to examine the options available for studying abroad, paying attention to their academic, financial, and personal needs. Once students select a program and are accepted, we work to prepare them for the academic and intercultural experiences they may encounter abroad. Our pre-departure orientation program discusses travel, health, safety, and culture abroad. In addition, we pay careful attention to world events with respect to the health, safety and security of students abroad.
We encourage parents to engage in open discussions with their student and to utilize the resources on our website. You can help your son or daughter as s/he embarks on this journey by becoming informed about various aspects of studying abroad, including Rice’s study abroad policies and procedures, student responsibilities regarding health and safety, and cultural adjustment considerations.
FERPA student privacy regulations prevent our staff from sharing specific information about students. We therefore encourage you to share your questions and concerns with your student who can then voice these concerns to their study abroad advisor. We can then help best meet your needs and questions, working together with your student.
Why Students Should Study Abroad
We believe that a study abroad experience provides incredible opportunities for students to learn about the world and themselves, gain new perspectives on their academics and obtain skills for living and working in a global community. Through these international educational experiences, we hope to give your student a totally new perspective - one which will greatly enhance their life and shape who they will become.
How Rice Students Select a Program
A variety of study abroad opportunities exist allowing students to study within their major or minor, learn a language, or participate in an internship, research or a field study program. Our Rice International Programs staff assist students in identifying their academic, personal, and financial needs as they consider program options. Please take time to review the Getting Started pages to learn about study abroad process and the types of programs available to your student.
Financing Study Abroad
It is important to understand all of the costs involved in an education abroad program. The actual costs for studying abroad vary widely by program - some programs costs may be similar to studying at Rice, while others may be significantly more expensive or less expensive. Early and comprehensive planning may assist you and your student in obtaining financial aid and scholarships. Please remember that inflation, changes in exchange rates, and other unforeseen factors sometimes alter costs.
Rice University financial aid and scholarships may be used to help pay for the costs of a Rice-approved study abroad program. In addition, many additional national and provider scholarship opportunities are available to qualifying students on a competitive basis. Please review the Finances section on our website to learn about:
Once your student has been accepted to study abroad and is preparing for the experience, we encourage you to discuss the pre-departure information they have learned during our comprehensive Pre-Departure Orientation as well as review of tasks and arrangements which must be completed. This includes travel arrangements, visas, health and safety issues, payments for the program and cultural awareness.
Carefully review health and safety information in general and for the specific host country your student will be living in as well as discussing legal issues while abroad. Make sure s/he is up to date on all immunizations.
Rice University requires that each student participating on a Rice study abroad program maintain comprehensive health and accident insurance, including emergency travel insurance, during the entire duration of his/her study abroad program. Please review insurance coverage to determine your student is properly covered during the study abroad experience.
Talk with your student and encourage them to obtain as much information about their host country prior to going abroad! Knowing as much as possible about the host country will greatly enhance your student’s study abroad experience, as well as helping you as a parent appreciate this opportunity for your child.
The Once Accepted and While Abroad sections on our website will provide you with a number of resources.
- Maintain communication with reasonable frequency. Allow your student the independence to integrate into their new host country.
- Keep the program calendar in mind. If you haven't heard from your son or daughter, it may be because he or she is on a program excursion or traveling during a break.
- Be aware that your student may experience a cultural adjustment (sometimes referred to as “culture shock”). Students go through a wide range of excitement and emotions once they leave home and begin to adjust to a new location, culture, and possible foreign language. As a parent, you'll often be a long-distance sounding board as your student tries to make sense of their new surroundings. Some students report experiencing confusion and a range of emotions while abroad, so you may receive an exuberant phone call one day and a very dejected email the next. Transitioning to a new way of life can be challenging and it takes a while to settle in and begin to put things in perspective. It is important for family and friends to recognize the normalcy of this struggle and to remain supportive as their child adjusts to the new culture. This adjustment is a major component of the learning and development your child will experience in his/her new country, and part of what will make their time abroad so interesting and rewarding. After some time, if you truly believe your student is having serious difficulty adapting to their new environment, encourage them to consult with an onsite program representative or Rice International Programs staff member. We will always be very willing to assist. Information about cultural adjustment is available in the Adjusting to a New Culture section on our website.
- Monitor online up to date information and advisories from the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs.
- Incidents and Emergencies Abroad:
- Should your student experience an unpleasant incident (displeasure with housing situation, theft, trouble with classes) while abroad their instinct will most likely lead them to call you no matter what time of day it is or their distance from home. If such an event occurs, please encourage your student to call the in country program contact regarding their concerns. Most problems can be easily and quickly resolved when handled locally. Please remind your student to remain calm and to feel free to discuss the situation with their program contact as that is what they are there for.
- Should your student experience an emergency abroad (bodily injury, victim of crime) please encourage them to contact the local authorities immediately. This call should be followed-up by a call to their local program contact. Their program contact will be able to assist them in seeking out any additional help or support the student may need in regard to their emergency situation (International SOS or U.S Embassy or Consulate).
- We have also asked the students to notify our office of any emergency situation and work closely with the in-country program administrators and U.S. authorities abroad when appropriate.
Continue your enthusiasm for your son or daughter's experience in the months after he or she returns home. Show interest in the photos, stories and memories to help keep the experience alive. Be aware that your student may experience a re-entry adjustment.
Coming home can sometimes be just as challenging as adjusting to life overseas. This is particularly true for students who spend a semester or year abroad. It will take a bit of time to re-adjust. Your student will have grown personally and will not be the same child you said goodbye to at the airport. Your student may feel frustrated because he or she has experienced so much, but everything at home still feels exactly the same. Expect them to experience some level of personal confusion and a wide range of emotions. Be patient and allow your student time to share stories and memories from their time abroad. With time, often several months, they will eventually fall back into step with life in the US. You can be there to support your student during this time as well as helping your student integrate their international experience into their life back home in the U.S.
- Communicating with Strangers: An Introduction to Intercultural Communication by William B. Gudykunst and Young Yun Kim
- American Cultural Patterns: A Cross-Cultural Perspective by Edward C. Stewart and Milton J. Bennett (Chapters 4 and 5, especially)
- Survival Kit for Overseas Living by Robert Kohls
- Trans-Cultural Study Guide by Grey Bryan, Ken Darrow, Dan Morrow & Brad Palmquist