Introduction to Study Abroad
College is the time for students to explore and grow as individuals while they plan their future career and professional paths. At Illinois, students have multiple opportunities to study abroad, all of which will allow them to earn college credit while living in another country and immersing themselves in a new culture. Studying abroad is an invaluable experience for your child. Some of the benefits include helping them develop their sense of independence, maturity, self-confidence and ability to adapt; exposing them to a wide variety of people and cultures; and providing them with an understanding of cultures, biases, and international marketplaces – skills that are becoming increasingly valuable to employers. In fact, in today’s business world, it is fast becoming an assumption that business students will have an international experience. Over 55% of our business students at the University of Illinois study abroad at some time during their undergraduate experience. Many students study abroad multiple times.
Your child is studying abroad, and you’ll be at home. How can you be involved?
Parents can contribute by letting their student be responsible for preparing for the experience. You should be available to your students, but let them be the ones with primary responsibility. This allows them to jumpstart their journey to independence and maturity. The most important thing a parent can do in the study abroad process is making sure you have realistic expectations. The following are some reasonable expectations to keep in mind:
- Your child will have an enlightening and enriching experience, but just like in the United States, not every day will be good. Everyone has bad days sometimes. If your child is having a bad day it does not mean their entire experience will be negative. Realize that the first week is often the most difficult.
- There is a chance that the environment your child is experiencing will not be comparable to what they are used to in the United States. This is part of the immersion into a new and different culture, and does not mean the trip will be less of a life-changing experience.
- Expect there to be a change in your child when they arrive back home. It is normal for your child to experience some degree of readjustment and reverse culture shock. It is important that you discuss their experiences with them and assist them in determining what they have learned and how their life has been impacted.
- If your child is not communicating with you as often as you would like during the semester abroad, keep in mind that if their study abroad experience is going smoothly, they should be busy and fully engaged. Encourage your child to communicate whenever he/she can, and ask them to tell you about everything they are experiencing. Also realize that it is often difficult to figure out how to make an international call the first day in a new country.
The College of Business only supports study abroad programs in locations that it feels are at least as safe as the US. In fact, many of our semester programs are in cities ranked among the top 50 cities with greatest personal safety: Mercer Personal Safety Ranking. Of course, it is always important to approach an unfamiliar place with the utmost caution. Talk with your child about being mature and responsible during their travels. Discuss any concerns you have with his/her safety and give him/her the chance to express their concerns as well. The following are a few topics of discussion on this matter:
- Always travel with others rather than alone, especially at night
- Stay away from dangerous areas or activities
- Do not drink to excess
- Follow the laws and customs of the country you are in – just because you are not a native does not mean these rules do not apply to you
What study abroad programs does the University of Illinois College of Bussines offer?
The Illinois Study Abroad Office has over 300 study abroad programs in over 50 countries with various urban and rural environments, durations, languages, cost, and academic focus. Your student has the option to study abroad for a full academic year, one semester, or during the summer/winter break.
There are several program options within these four categories:
- Courses led by Illinois faculty or staff – Faculty provide structured itineraries that include on-site lectures and excursions in short term programs held during semester breaks
- Illinois Field Sites Abroad – Your student can spend a semester at one of our Illinois field sites, staffed by on-site Resident Director who is often a University of Illinois staff member or professor. Our program in Vienna is an example of this.
- Universities Around the World – Your student can enroll in one of our partner universities where they will take classes alongside local students.
- Internships – Working for the government or a local company can provide beneficial experience in the global market, which serves as a valuable addition to a resume. More and more Business study abroad experiences are starting to include either volunteer or paid work experience.
- Volunteer Options – Getting involved by volunteering for a worthy cause can help your student connect to the host community while learning, first-hand, about local current issues. These options usually are organized by student clubs.
The most prevalent programs in the College of Business are our semester programs at universities across the globe. By developing close relationships with each of our partner universities, we are able to offer your student with opportunities to study at some of the best universities in the world.
What can you expect financially?
You might be surprised about how reasonable the cost for studying abroad can be, as some programs are quite comparable to the costs of studying at the University of Illinois. Semester programs offered through the College of Business are usually the least expensive study abroad programs offered through the university, as they are “exchange” programs in which our partner universities exchange students with Illinois for the semester. For these programs, your student does not need to pay the tuition of the university they will be attending. They only need to pay Range IV tuition at the University of Illinois. This is generally less than $2000 per semester. This is a substantial tuition savings over the regular cost of tuition. With additional study abroad fees and costs of traveling, the total is still comparable or less than a typical semester at Illinois. All of our semester programs are exchange programs except for UCD Quinn in Dublin. Additionally, most financial aid and academic scholarships are applicable to study abroad programs and there are also many scholarships for studying abroad.
Study Abroad FAQ
Does my student have to speak the language of the country they are traveling to?
No. For all of the programs offered through the College of Business, there are enough courses in English for the student to take.
What official documents will my student need to travel?
Depending on the program your child is enrolled in, they will need a passport and possibly a visa. Some visas are obtained at the consulate of the country your child will be studying in. Other visas, usually called “residency permits” are obtained once the student arrives at their destination. The visa cannot be applied for until an official letter from the foreign university arrives. A few countries also require proof that the student has sufficient funds.
What is the process for obtaining a passport?
Your child should apply for his/her passport several months before he/she is scheduled to travel as the process sometimes takes as long as 6 weeks to complete, and because the passport is needed in order to apply for a visa. Passports need to be valid for at least 6 months after the student plans to return from study abroad. Information about how and where to apply for U.S. passports can be found on the U.S. Department of State website. This website also provides information about local U.S. embassies and consulates around the world, how to get information in a national or international emergency, and other useful travel information.
It is also a good idea for you to have a valid, up-to-date passport so that in the unlikely event of illness or in an emergency, you would be able to travel quickly to your child’s location.
How should my child handle currency exchange?
In many countries, ATM debit cards are the most convenient method of getting foreign currency at a favorable rate of exchange. Be sure that your banks and credit card companies know where your child will be travelling, and be sure to have a backup plan, such as several hundred dollars or an additional credit card. You will also want to know the fees that apply for international withdrawls.
How can I stay in touch with my child while he/she is abroad?
Most students will use an internet service to call home such as Skype or Viber.
Most students abroad will pick up a pay-as-you-go phone to make local calls.
If bringing a smart phone, be sure that you know the costs associated. Many students bring them but just use them when they have WiFi access.