When thinking about going abroad there are many questions that come to mind. Below are answers to commonly asked questions.
1. Terrorists are everywhere! It is too dangerous for my child to study abroad! Why should I allow him/her to go?
Terrorist attacks can happen anywhere. Please read this article: Parents Speak Up on Rising Concerns of Terrorism and Study Abroad
2. Studying in a foreign country is so expensive. Why can’t my son/daughter just take foreign language or history courses at UHM?
Yes, it is expensive, but not as expensive as it first appears. If your child is a student at UHM there will be expenses for tuition, food, room if not living at home, transportation, books, entertainment and so on. The cost of Study Abroad is the extra cost above what you’d pay for staying at UHM for a semester.
3. Can a foreign language or history course at UHM do as well?
Very unlikely—there’s just no substitute for the actual experience of being there. The course is better than nothing and actually being there is by far the better alternative. Studying Abroad is an opportunity for growth and experience that happens only during college.
4. It is very expensive to send my son/daughter to study in a foreign country. How can I help him/her get this experience?
Just as you help your child to be at UHM, you can help with the Study abroad expenses. Perhaps best is to support early thinking and planning for going on a study abroad program, knowing that there will be extra expenses. Having a goal of saving money to go can influence spending decisions when there is a desire to have the needed funds. For example, maybe living at home for a semester rather than in an apartment may be a good choice when the savings can go toward a study abroad semester. Fortunately the Study Abroad Center and some Colleges have scholarship funds available that can be used and you can encourage your child to check on them.
5. Will my son/daughter be safe in a foreign country?
No place is completely safe, not even living at home and going to UHM. The Study Abroad Center staff does a “due diligence” survey of each foreign location to check on safety issues, and then keeps in close touch with the situation when potential on-site problems arise. Remember that most UHM study abroad sites usually have a UHM faculty member with the students.
6. There will be a UHM Resident Director where my child wants to study. How (Why) does this benefit my child?
The Center carefully selects the Faculty Directors who are experienced in working with college students. Directors aren’t substitute parents; they won’t control their students’ activities, but they will be there if or when the need arises. Faculty Directors are part of the support system provided by UHM and the overseas host University. Faculty directors volunteer to go because they want to share the experience with their students and because they want to facilitate their students having a good learning, living and studying experience.
7. The study abroad country is so far away. How will I keep in touch with my son/daughter?
Fortunately there are a lot of good options: There’s always the traditional ways of phone calls and e-mails. Now there’s also Skype, which your child will be able to set up and you’ll have both visual and verbal contact for no or a very low charge. And who knows? Some parents go to visit their child at the end of their study abroad experience and this can be a great opportunity to see where your child has been. Chances are he/she will be delighted to share the place with you.
There’s an old saying that parents should give their children both roots and wings. Roots are what you’ve been providing and the wings come when your child is confident enough to venture out on their own. Going to grade school is an early wings experience. Then comes high school, the University and finally a study abroad experience. The personal and intellectual growth your child receives in a study abroad program may be the best gift you can give for being prepared to live and work in our increasingly international and inter related world.
8. Might Study Abroad hurt my child’s GPA?
Of course that is always possible, but just staying home and taking courses at UHM might do the same. GPAs aren’t the only thing graduate schools and employers look at. Fortunately participating in a study abroad program by itself should strengthen any application your child makes, both for what was learned and experienced and for what it communicates about your child’s willingness to take on something new. Who would you pick when two applicants are there, one with and one without a study abroad experience?
9. My son/daughter wants to go on to a professional school after he/she graduates. Studying abroad will delay his graduation.
Not necessarily. Both the Study Abroad Center Staff and your son or daughter’s college are aware of this problem and are skilled in planning for courses abroad that will fit into the required course list. You can check for pre-approved equivalent courses at the Study Abroad website. Of course, early planning for studying Abroad makes it easier to find the best way to plan the course schedule, both at UHM and Abroad.
10. Won’t my child be lonely without his or her friends at home?
Quite likely, but also most likely not for long. To start with most of the UHM programs have a group of UHM students going to the same place. The Center makes sure they have met each other before departure. And shortly after arrival overseas your child will be making new friends. Rather than missing friends at home, the bigger problem will probably be missing the friends made while abroad when the program ends. There’s another opportunity to enhance the experience— have your child go with a friend!