Before departure, students and parents should develop an overseas communication plan. It is important to discuss how often you will communicate with each other and through what means.

Cell Phones

Students will need to have a cell phone in the country in which they are studying. This is their primary means of communication with program staff and other students while abroad. Even if students plan on bringing a US phone with international access, they should still plan on getting a local phone number.

Students will need a phone that works abroad and a local SIM card. Options include:

  • Purchase or rent a phone in abroad with an local SIM card
  • Bring a 4-band GSM phone from the US that is capable of having a new SIM card inserted and purchase or rent a local SIM card.

When buying a phone and SIM card abroad students will generally be set up with a pre-paid calling plan, where they can add money to their phone periodically to cover the calls that they will make.

Communicating with Your Student

We recommend that students contact you as soon as they can after arriving overseas. We also recommend that you maintain regular contact with your student. Familiarize yourself with the program dates and your student's travel itinerary. If you have not heard from your son/daughter, it may be because they are on an excursion.

Internet-based communication systems can be some of the the most cost-effective means of communicating with your student. Calls between the US and international phones can be expensive, therefore students and parents are urged to exercise caution when making international calls.

Skype- A free program that enables international voice and video communication. Skype is available for computers, smartphones and tablet devices.

Call Phones from Gmail- Discounted international calling rates are available when using the "call phone" feature in Gmail. Calls to U.S. numbers are free.

How can I communicate with my child while he or she is abroad? - U.S. Department of State

Culture Shock & Homesickness

Culture shock is a sense of confusion and uncertainty sometimes with feelings of anxiety that may affect people exposed to an alien culture or environment. Culture shock is a normal part of the experience of studying abroad. This feeling of uneasiness may be exacerbated when a student must use a foreign language to communicate.


  • If you would like to visit your son or daughter while he/she is overseas, we encourage you to travel to your son/daughter's host country only during university breaks or after the program ends.
  • Visiting your student at the beginning of of the program is not generally recommended because students need time to be independent and to transition to life in a new environment.
  • Keep in mind that students tend to have more work for their classes toward the end of the semester as projects, papers, and finals approach. It is important that your visit does not prevent your students from attending classes or completing work for class.
  • Also bear in mind that you will most likely not be able to stay with your student in program-provided accommodation.