There are many options to communicate with your student while they are abroad. Below, there are some options listed:

Skype allows you to contact anyone else with a Skype account through video and voice calls, instant messaging and file sharing for free. Skype also offers text messaging, group video calls, and calling mobile phones and/or landlines for a fee.

Google Talk
Google Talk is an online video chat service.

Students can use Blogger to create a free blog online where they can post pictures, comments and stories to keep family and friends updated on their abroad experience.  

Cell Phones
Cellular providers offer supplemental services and plans to enable customers to use their cell phones outside of the United States. Other options include using local SIM cards to make calls while residing in another country. Overseas SIM cards can be purchased before you travel from companies like Cellular Abroad and Telestial or at local shops in foreign countries. ATT also offers a Study Abroad Plan.

There is a great deal of support that you can provide for the student in your life as they move through the process of selecting, applying for and preparing for their education abroad experience. 

In particular, your emotional and moral support are critical as your student negotiates the process. However, there are also a number of steps that you cannot take on behalf of your student, since they themselves are the legal persons making the application to study on the program. Below is a summary of roles that you can and cannot fulfill.

Positive Roles for Families

General Moral Support. The decision regarding whether or not to study abroad is a major, life-altering decision and may - next to choosing in which university to study - be one of the most significant decisions that your student has to make in the course of their life. It is quite helpful to the student if her/his family can provide overall moral and emotional support as she or he navigates the challenging process of making a decision about whether and when to go abroad.

Selection Advice. Some parents or guardians may also be able to provide some advice to their student about where to study or intern abroad. Particularly, those parents/guardians who are well traveled can offer their own observations about several different countries or regions. You also can serve as a sounding board for your student, helping remind them of the advantages and disadvantages of various sites. In particular, the student may have learned a great deal about the sites from an information session held on campus, from an advising meeting, from online materials, or from other sources. In addition, they may also have spoken with an academic adviser about how particular programs might benefit their academic progress. Helping reiterate these points of information and to think about them comparatively is one way that a parent’s or guardian’s experience and wisdom can be quite useful for the student.

Financial Support. Of course, education abroad programs sometimes cost more than on-campus study and residence, and parents or guardians who are able to provide financial support of any kind or amount are able to alleviate one of the major sources of stress and difficulty for students who want to expand their education with a study abroad or global internship experience. Remember, the education abroad experience is an investment in the future of your student, who will reap many professional and personal benefits that will last a lifetime. Seldom does anyone return and say that the experience was not worth the funds invested, and alumni several years after their experiences will often say quite the opposite!

Travel Preparations. Once your student has been admitted to the study abroad or global internship program, you may be in a strong position to help them prepare for the journey. You can assist them as they make travel arrangements, or using your own frequent flier miles. In addition, students will need to obtain student visas or residence permits for some countries, and your assistance may be required to document that your student will have access to enough personal funds while in the country.

While Abroad. While your student is abroad, you can also provide support from stateside by staying in email contact or other communication with them, being there to provide support if they face unanticipated difficulties, and maybe even wiring over or depositing into their account some extra cash at some point during their international adventure. It's important to find the right balance, too, though, and not to allow the student to become overly dependent on too-frequent communication with you, as that will defeat one of the main purposes of the experience.

Re-entry Support. You may be surprised to learn that re-entry to the U.S. is, for many students, the most difficult part of the experience. Encourage your son or daughter to visit OSU International Programs to meet and debrief with Education Abroad Advisors, who can offer resources on and off campus.

What You Cannot Do for Your Student

Completing Documents. You are not able to complete or sign any documents on behalf of your student, including the program application, pre-departure paperwork, participation agreements, medical forms, and other required paperwork. Your student is the legal person who will be participating in the program and, thus, is also the legal person who must complete and sign these documents. It is very important that students participating in any programs read all documents and handouts thoroughly and ask a UO Study Abroad Programs or other relevant staff person about any questions that they (or you) have.

Handling Registration and Other Business Matters. Sometimes well-meaning parents try to handle certain “business” matters of the education abroad experience (course registration, on-site housing, etc.). However, your student is a legal adult whose right to privacy in these matters is protected by a federal law called FERPA and by university rules. Furthermore, we strongly prefer to work with the student directly because the student is the one who will actually be participating in the program, and we need to know that they are taking responsibility for the experience and are fully aware of all the administrative and other details. We are not inclined to accept students who cannot accept responsibility for making their own arrangements since they are unlikely to be able to handle similar situations while abroad - when you will certainly not be there to handle their affairs for them. Therefore, we ask that you resist the urge to “micromanage” your student’s education abroad experience, and that you encourage them to take responsibility themselves, though you can and should still provide the various kinds of support suggested above.

This information is borrowed from “What can I do to help?” by University of Oregon.

Students age 18 or older are personally responsible for the submission of all application materials and the completion of all tasks. 

  • Minor students will be responsible for securing the signature of a parent or guardian on all ­­signature documents.

Your student will need a valid passport before going abroad. Allow 4-6 weeks for this process. Your student may also need a visa. A visa is a type of permission that gives legal entry into a country. Many countries require travelers to get a visa before entering the country.

This varies by program.The student should ensure that they are planning early and working closely with their Education Abroad Advisor or program coordinator to submit all required materials in a timely manner. Some programs take as little as three weeks to make an admissions decision, while others, such as internships, may take a couple of months because the host organization/institution in the destination country makes final decision on placements

If students start planning early and they work with their Academic Advisor(s) and Education Abroad Advisor to map out how the program is going to fit into their OSU degree, there is no reason why a student cannot graduate ‘on time’. It is important for students to understand what their sense of ‘on-time’ means, in some cases that is four years, in some it is five, and so on. Students who have a good understanding of their degree requirements and their goals are often able to make education abroad programs seamless components of their college experience.

All students who go abroad on an Oregon State approved education abroad program will receive resident academic credit. This means that the internship or course credits from abroad will appear on the student’s OSU transcript as OSU credit- not transfer credit. This makes it possible for students to go abroad as seniors and still graduate the same year. Some programs can satisfy major or minor requirements, some programs offer courses which count toward the student’s general education or ‘bacc-core’ requirements, and some appear as general ‘elective credit’, and students have specific requirements for numbers of electives. Essentially yes, all of these programs’ credits will count toward your student’s degree. With careful planning and the balancing of goals, your student and our Advisors should be able to find a program that is a perfect fit for your student’s degree.

Students studying on Oregon State approved programs are eligible to receive financial aid to help pay program costs. It is important to note that students should file a FAFSA, which is necessary for most scholarships, grants, loans etc. Please visit our Finances and Scholarships page for addition information on financing an education abroad program.

Health and safety are important considerations when planning a trip overseas. Below are some things to contemplate when preparing for an overseas education abroad program. Please visit our Health and Safety page for addition information.

Road Safety Abroad

Road crashes are the leading cause of death and injury for American citizens abroad. Young people between the ages of 15 and 24 are most at risk. For this reason, study abroad participants must make their own safety on the road while abroad a top priority.

As an increasing number of American students spend time abroad, often in countries with less developed road infrastructures and unfamiliar signage, they are forced to make life-saving choices.  Road safety preparedness and education must be a critical component of study abroad planning and orientation.

There are several good resources for detailed information on road safety abroad that Oregon State students should consult prior to their abroad experience. These include:

  • U.S. Department of State’s website. Go to: and follow the links to “Road Safety Overseas”.
  • The Center for Global Education’s website. Go to: and follow the “Resources of Study Abroad” link to the “Health and Safety” section.

Pack a First Aid Kit

It is always wise to pack a small medical kit with certain essentials that may be required during your student’s abroad experience. First aid supplies could include, bandages, gauze tape, scissors, tweezers, topical antibiotic ointment, an elastic bandage (helpful for strains or sprains), anti-inflammatory drug, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, sunscreen, insect repellent and Pepto-Bismol or Imodium AD.


Students should check which inoculations are recommended for travel to any country they intend to visit. Immunization information is available from your own physician, Oregon State’s Student Health Services, or the Center for Disease Control. Students are recommended to start this process early, because some inoculations require several weeks to complete. 

Avoiding Theft

Regarding personal safety, use common sense. Students should us their host family, friends, or program director as resources to learn about safety and places it might be best to avoid.

The main problem faced by Americans abroad relates to theft from pickpockets.

  • To avoid being singled out as a likely target, students should keep a low profile when traveling. They should avoid conspicuous clothing, jewelry and behavior and not carry large sums of cash. Student could invest in a good money belt in which you can place your passport, valuables, etc. If your student is using a backpack, they should not store your camera or other valuables in the outer pockets where they can be taken.
  • It is important for students to keep two copies of the numbers of credit cards and travelers checks in case they are lost or stolen; they should leave one set in the U.S. with family/friends and take the other with them.
  • Remember that an American passport is a valuable item on the black market. Students should keep a copy of the front page in a safe place so that if it is stolen, they can contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate and replace it quickly.
  • Students should only deal with authorized agents when they exchange money, buy airline tickets or purchase souvenirs.
  • Students should be cautious of where they leave their belongings. They should not leave their backpack unattended in train stations, bus terminals, or at tourist attractions.

This information is borrowed from “Health and Safety” from Washington State University.

Accommodations will vary. Depending on the program, your student may be living with a host family, in an apartment, dormitory, hostel or hotel. Please have your student visit the program website for specific information regarding accommodation.

If a student has a serious medical or legal emergency while abroad, the student should:  

  • Call the local equivalent to 911
  • Contact the on-site program representative immediately
  • Contact your international insurance provider
  • If away from the study abroad program location, contact the nearest  U.S. Embassies or Consults for guidance
  • Report the situation to International Programs
    • During normal business hours, call +1-541-737-3006
    • Outside of normal business hours, call Oregon State Public Safety at +1-541-737-7000

If you do visit, try not to undermine the student’s academic commitment by pulling them from class for vacation trips. Instead, receive a copy of the student’s semester schedule and schedule your trip during the program vacations. The other option is to visit at the end of the program. This allows your student to adjust to the new environment, acquire mastery of the local language and develop new expertise, skills and knowledge to show off when you come. The student will enjoy showing you around, and you receive the benefit of having a knowledgeable guide to introduce you to the city and country.