This letter is being sent to all parents (or spouses) of students accepted on upcoming UNK Study Abroad programs. We're very pleased your student has chosen to study abroad with us. What follows will be information that students may fail to pass along to those who feel a need to know. Perhaps your student has been independent for years, and you won't see this information as relevant. In that case, read no further!
While your student is an adult, we recommend that, prior to departure, you sit down and discuss communication, finances, and safety, as these are the areas that are often of most concern to parents and spouses.
Communication: Discuss correspondence with your student and decide on a time each week or month that you will write or make telephone contact. Be sure you each have addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, and best times to make contact with the other (and be sure to take into account the difference in time zones and occasional "misses" due to unexpected changes in schedule on either end). Check with your local long distance carrier regarding discounted international calling rates. Obtain an institutional contact name, phone, fax, and e-mail so that you will be able to make contact with each other outside of your agreed-upon schedule if the need arises.
Perhaps you recall the adjustment that your student had to make when he or she first arrived at UNK: everything was new and different, and nothing was quite the way it was at home. All of this will be true once again, though perhaps even in exaggerated form, in another country. Remember that what may be related to you as an emergency will often sort itself out. We know of many instances in which a student has called home in distress shortly after arriving at a far-away destination; the parents worried about whether to bring the student home, or send more money, or travel to be with the student. The parents phoned back a short time later and received no response and imagined all sorts of dire scenarios until finally reaching the student several hours later and finding out that all was now well and that the student had made a new friend over coffee and was beginning to enjoy the new setting. Trust your student: remember that handling these challenges is part of the adventure of being far from home and part of growing up.
Finances: Most expenses for UNK study abroad programs are billed directly to students' accounts (some programs require that the student pay housing and meal expenses to the host institution). All students are responsible, however, for incidental expenses while abroad. Make arrangements with your student on how you would transfer additional or emergency funds, if the need arises, as well as the source of those funds and their potential uses (emergency travel home versus local travel for sightseeing; funds to cover lost or missing luggage versus gifts for friends). If the source of funds is the student's bank account, consider a short-term Power of Attorney so that the student's signature isn't needed for deposits/withdrawals. The student's financial institution, whether bank, savings and loan, or credit union, can let you both know what is required. You may want to provide a copy of this information to the Financial Aid Office, so that any funds made available to the student can be directed appropriately.
Safety: Students were provided with information related to safety and health risks and the means to avoid these risks. A number of general sources of information are drawn upon to guide all programs. These include:
- US Government advisories, including those of the U.S. Department of State and those issued by in-country embassies. Health issues abroad are followed both through the Centers for Disease Control and the UNK Health Center.
- The knowledge and judgment of leadership staff for each program.
- Contact with professional colleagues at other institutions with program sites in the same vicinity as our programs.
- Our own advisory staff, who have several decades of experience living, studying, and working abroad.
Despite all precautions, total safety cannot be guaranteed while abroad any more than it can be in the U.S. In spite of this, the Study Abroad Office continues to do whatever it can to maximize the safety of those participating in our programs. We suggest that you talk with your student regarding your concerns and the student's plans for avoiding risks while abroad.
Location and Office Hours
Ann Marie Park, Study Abroad Coordinator
Welch Hall #104
2504 19th Avenue
Kearney, NE 68849-4911
Office Hours: 8 am - 5 pm
Telephone: (308) 865-8944
Fax: (308) 865-8947