Letter to Parents and Family Members
Dear Parents and Family Members,
Thank you for lending your support to an educational experience that just may be the best experience of your student's college career! Education abroad is transformative. It allows students to learn about another country firsthand, while promoting personal, academic, and professional growth. Education abroad helps students distinguish themselves in a globalized, competitive economy.
Each year, around 700 UNL students study abroad in around 50 different countries. Moving forward, we hope that even more UNL students will take advantage of the opportunity. The Education Abroad Office (EAO) offers a wide variety of options to address the diverse needs of students. We work with UNL departments to develop faculty-led programs, with foreign institutions to create reciprocal exchange opportunities, and with study abroad providers to expand our program offerings. We want your student to choose a program that best fits him/her.
We share your desire to make this experience a good investment of your family's time and money. If you have questions at any stage of this experience, we encourage you to communicate with your student so he/she is aware of your interest and concerns. We also encourage you to explore the resources on this page, as well as the entire Education Abroad website. If, after talking with your student and reading this site, you still have questions, please feel free to contact the Education Abroad Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-472-5358.
The EAO staff provides students with advice from advisors and coordinators; web resources; pre-departure orientation; and referral to outside units such as academic and financial aid advisors and the UNL Travel Clinic. We are committed to working with each student to insure that their individual needs are addressed before, during, and after their experience abroad.
Thanks for your support in helping your student "go big, go abroad!"
Rebecca Luhrs Baskerville, MPA
Director of Education Abroad
The Education Abroad Office is student-centered, and we expect students to actively assume responsibility for the preparation process. When students go abroad, they will be responsible for themselves in an unfamiliar environment. The EAO staff purposefully communicates with and sends all correspondence directly to students. Many steps in the process, such as visa applications and financial aid, require highly specialized assistance. In response to some questions, the EAO staff may refer your student to a website, an email, or another contact. While we are pleased to answer your questions, in some cases we cannot share information out of respect for FERPA student privacy regulations. Please share your questions and concerns with your student, and ask him/her to serve as the family representative.
Application and Preparation
We encourage you to explore the programs and resources on the Education Abroad website and talk to your student about the application steps. Throughout the preparation process, information may come to your student over time and from a variety of sources, including EAO staff, other UNL faculty and staff, and program coordinators in the U.S. and abroad. Please encourage your student to review all correspondence carefully, share it with you if they choose, and meet the deadlines set by program coordinators.
Read as much as possible about the country your student will visit, in order to gain some perspective about the experience. You may also want to talk to friends or colleagues who have been where your student is going.
Be sure you have a copy of your student's flight itinerary. You may want to track the flights using the airline website. Please keep in mind that students may not be able to call or email home immediately upon arrival as it may be inconvenient, complex, or difficult. In most cases, faculty or staff members assisting your student in the new location will help him/her contact home as soon as possible. With the rapidly expanding communication options, most students are able to stay in close contact with loved ones throughout the program. We encourage you and your student to research the most affordable and reliable ways to contact each other.
Once your student has gone abroad, he/she may experience the stress of adjusting to a new location, culture, and perhaps a new language. All students, regardless of maturity, personality, previous experience abroad, or knowledge of the host country, experience some degree of culture shock. Their reactions may be similar to the stages they went through when they arrived at UNL and are part of the normal development process.
It is common for students to call or e-mail home during moments of low morale, but not when they are busy and things are going well. We encourage you to support your student through these stages and to utilize the same coping skills they use in any new situation that creates stress. Encourage participants to allow time to become accustomed to the cultural differences. However, do take students' concerns seriously and be on the lookout for problems that may indicate that a participant is experiencing more than culture shock.
When students return to the U.S., they may feel alienated. Allow them to talk about their experiences and feelings upon their return to the U.S. Ask questions, and encourage them to share photographs. Give them the freedom to adjust at their own pace. Remember that they have changed and grown over the time they were abroad. Encourage your student to find ways to incorporate his/her new interests and cross-cultural skills into his/her life in the U.S.