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For Parents & Guardians

 

Furman University understands that study away offers vital educational and professional experiences for undergraduates. By studying away, students broaden their perspectives of world cultures, academia, and their own identities. Students engage and develop skills like critical thinking, flexibility, and language proficiency as they explore new academic pursuits, strengthen their intercultural understanding, and engage in global networks and research. In studying away, parents and guardians are essential in supporting students as they prepare for their programs and upon their return.
 

 


If your student may require accommodations for a disability, please have your student consult with: the Office of Disability Services (SOAR), Study Away program directors/providers, and the study away office. All information remains confidential and may help your student in their preparation, developing a plan for the study away experience, and providing on-site resources for your student while they are abroad. Students are encouraged to reach out to their program directors about academic assistance and tutoring abroad.
 
 

Upon Acceptance to a program, students have two weeks to submit their Financial Agreement, Consent Form, and $500 Deposit to confirm their participation. Students will need to complete the rest of their Rinker Student Profile before by the specified deadlines designated in their study away profiles. If your student applied to an Exchange, Affiliate, or a Non-Furman Program, your student will need to complete a secondary application with the program provider.
 

All students participating on a faculty-led or affiliate program must complete a Pre-Departure Orientation (PDO) Session. The dates of the available sessions will be announced via the Rinker Center and will be visible on the Rinker Center Calendar. If a student cannot attend a session due to class, the student must reach out to the study away adviser at least two weeks in advance. Students who do not attend a PDO will not be able to participate in their study away.
 

Students will automatically be enrolled into a Study Away placeholder course and will not have to select courses for that semester. Classes cannot be taken as pass/no pass and student must maintain full-time academic status to maintain their scholarships. Students are responsible for all costs in obtaining an official transcript from their host institution after the completion of their program.

Students must complete a Course Transfer Authorization Form through the Registrar before their departure if participating on an Affiliate, Exchange, or Non-Furman program in order to determine transfer course credit equivalencies and course approval. Though transfer credits are not factored into your Furman GPA, you need at least a C- to receive credit. Multiple forms can be submitted, and if courses change at any time, the form should be resubmitted to the Registrar with the updated courses. Make sure to include the course description for each course. If you want a course to count for a GER, indicate this on the transfer course form and submit a full syllabus with your request. The Registrar makes the final decisions of how a credit will be received at Furman: GER, major credit, minor credit, general credit or no-credit.

For students participating in Affiliate programs, if they know the school of record institution for their program, students can search how previous courses have been transferred to Furman through the Transfer Course Equivalencies page. Note, these do not include all classes and if a student does not see their course of interest, they should complete a Course Transfer Authorization Form.
 

Your student should alert Furman Housing and Residential Life that they will not be on campus for their semester of study. You can reach out to HousingandResidenceLife@furman.edu for housing related questions! Students may also elect to place their name on a list to be shared with other study away students to help facilitate a housing swap in their Rinker Center profile for their on-campus housing. Study Away housing is facilitated through the study away program, so all housing questions and processes should be directed either to your program specific adviser through your affiliate, exchange or non-Furman program or your program faculty leaders for Furman faculty-led programs.
 

Your student should talk to their doctors and/or counselors about any maintenance medications or ongoing healthcare they may need. Keep in mind that living in a new environment can affect your student’s health in many different ways from their physical to emotional health. What may be easily accessible at home, may be limited abroad, so it is important to develop a plan of action before they go! Students should request official accommodations from the Student Office of Accessibility Resources (SOAR) well in advance. The students are also encouraged to self-disclose any health concerns, medical information, or required accommodations to their program directors. It is important for the student to be honest and open about their medical history, as it can help faculty make sure the required resources, knowledge, or support will be provided. All information remains confidential and will not affect your student’s participation in their accepted study away program.
 

You should make sure that your student have informed their bank and credit card companies of travel plans to prevent frozen assets. This should be done before their departure and make sure to list all countries to which your student may be traveling. If the card is used in a country for which it is not pre-approved, the card will be frozen and your student will not have access to the funds. At the airport, have your student have the host country’s currency in case of emergencies upon arrival. Students are encouraged to have more than one source of funding during their time abroad.

Make sure to record credit card numbers and company contact numbers of your student in case of theft/loss. Do not take personal checks or carry large amounts of cash on themselves. If you decide to take out large funds from an ATM (this method may be cheaper than taking out multiple smaller funds due to ATM fees), do not keep the money in one area. Keep the money in separate bags, pockets, safes and hiding places. Do not forget where you placed your money if your program changes locations.

It is beneficial for the student to create an approximate budget and keep a running tally of how much they are spending. Remember to account for the exchange rate and ATM fees. Have your student monitor their bank account online for fraudulent spending or overdrawing, or ask for access to help monitor their account.
 

Students participating on international programs will need a passport for participation. The passport must be valid for at least six months AFTER the student’s return date to the United States. If your student does not have a passport or needs to renew their passport, apply for a new passport through the State Department as soon as possible. Costs associated with acquiring a passport are not included within the program costs.
 

Generally, students will need a visa if they are staying more than 90 days in a country. If you are unsure of your status, you can contact your program provider for specific details. The student cannot apply for a visa until 90 days before departure. To receive a visa, you will schedule a meeting at your program country’s consulate/embassy. The designated consulate may be in a different city or even state. Plan ahead because these meetings are limited and fill-up quickly. Make sure to bring all required paperwork and copies that they require. The cost of the visa appointment and travel to the consulate/embassy for most programs in not included in the program cost.

The visa process may also take several weeks, so students should plan ahead and make sure they will receive their visa on-time and that they are not leaving the country while the visa is being processed. Students are only allowed to apply for consulates/embassies where they have residence. Residence includes any area where the student has a current and valid student I.D. card, driver’s license or residency permit. This does not include birth certificates. U.S. citizens who do not possess any other passports or international residencies generally are unable to apply for visas in a foreign country. United States student citizens partaking on consecutive semesters generally must return to the United States to complete a second visa process. Make sure that you and your student have factored that there is enough time for the appointment, processing, and delivery before their next study away experience.

If your student is a Non-U.S. Citizen, they may be required additional steps or requirements for the visa process. All associated costs are the responsibility of the student and are not factored into the study away program cost.
 

A credit for some meals will be provided for students. This credit is in the form of a deduction to bill for semester study away. Students do not receive a stipend of cash. It is the student’s responsibility to plan meals ahead of time and budget money so that they have enough money in their bank accounts to cover their meals during abroad before they depart. Students can save money on meals by cooking at home and saving money on weekends.
 

Have your student leave a detailed itinerary of their program travel dates and locations. Furman faculty-led programs include the cost of round-trip airfare from a certain location. Students on faculty-led programs are responsible for the cost of getting to the departure city. Affiliate, Exchange and Non-Furman programs do not include the cost of airfare in the program cost. Students are responsible in making sure they arrive at airports in time for their departing flights.

Do not book tickets for independent travel until your student understands the program travel requirements and dates. Your student is required to participate in all travel study experiences that are a part of the program. A student cannot do an independent travel experience during a scheduled program excursion, class or internship hours. Students are encouraged to spend the first three weeks in their host country to adjust to the environment, culture and academic schedules.

Students participating in Furman faculty-led programs will automatically be enrolled into the STEP program. This is a free service sponsored by the U.S. Government for U.S. citizens so that the Department of State can better assist you in an emergency. It also provides students with routine information and updates from the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Students participating in all other programs are encouraged to register themselves for the STEP program.
 

Communication with your student allows you access to understand their experience and to help support them during their time abroad. Students must have a usable phone during their time abroad. This can be accomplished through an international data plan, a foreign SIM card with a foreign pre-paid data plan accessed abroad, or through purchasing a second foreign phone and pre-paid data plan to use while abroad. Make sure the phone is kept on airplane mode to avoid data charges.

You can also communicate with your student through e-mail, Facebook Messanger, WhatsApp, Viber, WeChat, Skype and Facetime.
 

The Rinker Center for Study Away and International Education reviews all study away programs on an annual basis, and more frequently as needed, to plan for and mitigate risks associated with the health and safety of participants while traveling. In this day and age, nothing is risk-free. Students and faculty are instructed to remain vigilant and cautious at all times and will receive additional instructions during a mandatory pre-departure orientation session and on-site orientation programming. When students commit to a study away program, they are asked to self-disclose personal information - which may include allergies, medications, disabilities, mental health conditions, medical concerns, and past medical histories. This information is shared with the faculty directors and study away staff for use during medical emergencies, and in an effort to be aware of and plan for situations that may arise or accommodations that are needed while students are away from Furman's campus resources. It is extremely important for students to be transparent and forthcoming about their concerns, needs, and medical histories prior to the start of the program as well as during the program.

Health Insurance 
 
On Domestic Programs, students must provide and upload proof of their own insurance to the Rinker Center.

Students partaking in international faculty-led, affiliate and exchange programs will be automatically enrolled in Furman’s International Insurance Policy through EIIA. You do not need to do anything to be enrolled in this policy. Plan details are accessible at https://www.sevencorners.com/eiia. It is important to review the plan’s details of coverage, how to file a claim and restrictions of coverage. The following actions are not covered in the insurance plan: skydiving/parachuting, hang gliding, bungee jumping, mountain climbing, caving/potholing, zip lining, motorcycle riding, elective procedures, pregnancy related health care, and suicide or self-inflicted injuries. Any students who participate in them may be unable to further participate in their study away experience and are responsible for all associated costs.

Non-Furman program students are responsible for acquiring their own international health insurance.

Safety Tips
 
Vigilance is vital for students who are studying away. Students encouraged to research their host country before their departure to understand cultural norms and expectations as they are subject to their host countries laws. The State Department website at has useful safety and other information about foreign countries. Students are required to report all independent travel to Study Away during their time abroad.
 
If you are concerned about your student’s identity in study away, please review our Identity and Study Away page.
 
Students can remain safe while abroad in knowing the emergency action plans for their program, having the contact numbers for emergency services and advisers/leaders of their program. Encourage your student to avoid areas of protests or strikes, report suspicious behaviors, always travel or stay in groups, and participate safe practices in regards to alcohol consumption and water safety. If traveling, students should know where their destination is located and how to reach it. Have your student think about travel duration, time of arrival or departure, host language, transportation systems used and available, and scheduling of transportation.
 

No matter which program your student is partaking on, how long they will be studying away, or their personality, many students face a facet of culture shock during their study away experiences. Culture shock occurs when a person is suddenly subjected to unfamiliar ways of life, cultural norms and practices, and or conflicting or different beliefs and perspectives usually leaving the person feeling disorientated, frustrated, fatigued or anxious.

Culture shock is usually exhibited in four stages: Honeymoon, Frustration, Acclimation and Integration. There is no set length of each stage as they are greatly influenced by the individual student, their life experiences, preparations and on-site support. The Honeymoon stage is the positive excitement of the new environment, food, culture, language etc. Students generally want to participate and engage with the host country and everything may feel “perfect”, “amazing”, or “great” during this stage. Compared to semester programs where the Honeymoon stage will transition and fade, on shorter programs such as MayX, the Honeymoon stage may last its entire duration.

The second stage, Frustration, is characterized by overall fatigue and aggravation at linguistic misunderstandings and mistranslations. Small challenges such as missing a bus, losing a key, not being able to order food at a restaurant become impactful on the student’s experience. Many students experience anxiety, depression and homesickness - missing friends and family, wishing they could attend events back at Furman, or having access to foods not available in their host country. Students may call home more often with their daily struggles or feeling isolated. They may feel bored, withdraw from group activities or be overly critical of their host country’s environment. One example of this would be a student who had previously spent their after class hours exploring the city or participating in clubs now immediately returns home and watches Netflix alone all day. Feeling homesick is normal in study away experiences. It is important for parents and guardians during this stage to support their students by encouraging them to reach out to on-site advisors and counselors. They are trained in helping students overcome these frustrations and may have even experienced these emotions personally. Having your student reach out for help when they are struggling is the most important way for you to support them. Though it is okay to talk with your student, encourage them to meet new people and spend time with their friends. Students who are involved in social experiences are more likely to quickly overcome this stage. You should encourage your student to engage in group-activities and join clubs or organizations that are similar to things they like to do at home. If there is a certain movie or activity your student loves, have them introduce it to their host family or friends. This provides your student a connection between your host and home cultures, a chance for cultural exchange, and a sense of home in the foreign.

Acclimation begins when the feelings of Frustration begin to subdue. It may become easier for your student to navigate transportation or to feel connected to the community. They may even be able to pick up a few words if they are studying in a country where they do not know the native language. Rather than observing as an outsider, many students start asking their own questions to understand and become further involved in the cultural practices. They may start bonding with local students and reflecting on though differences between cultures exist, they can understand them through a cultural perspective. It is important to remember that the process of culture shock is not linear. Many students may experience Frustration and Acclimation in waves, moving back and forth between the two as they navigate their pathway and experience.

The final stage of Culture Shock is Acceptance. Attaining this stage may take weeks, months, even years. You student may not reach this stage by the end of their study away experience and that is okay. Acceptance is more than understanding that differences exist and what they are. Rather, Acceptance is finding similarities between the host and home country that they come to realize and utilize the host resources to thrive within the country. They are able to navigate their surroundings themselves and feel at ease in doing so. There may not be a right or wrong in a lifestyle, just a difference - without rating them against each other. Returning home for students may be an exciting time for both you and them, but it may have its own affects as well. We will discuss this later on in the Return to Furman section.
 

All students will be billed by Furman, unless you are participating on a Non-Furman program or elsewise stated by Furman (some Exchanges). Students will be billed for the semester tuition, room, and board plus a $500 confirmation deposit (which includes the study away fee). The $500 deposit will be applied toward final bill in the form of a credit. For some programs, credits for visas, some meals, and flight allowances may be deducted. For all financial details, please contact Furman’s Financial Services Office.

For students participating on Furman Faculty-Led Programs, Affiliate Programs, and Exchange Programs, Federal, State and Furman financial aid that a student normally receives will be applied to the final bill. Full-time academic status is required to maintain scholarships and financial aid. Need-based study away scholarships are available with priority given to students who have not previously participated in a study away program. Townes, Duke, and Hollingsworth Scholars should alert the Rinker Center for Study Away to apply their one-time study away stipend to their study away program.

Students participating on an Affiliate or Non-Furman Program may be eligible for scholarships offered through their own program provider. We encourage our students to contact the provider for further information on these scholarships.

Students are encouraged to look for outside sources of supplemental funding for study away. Start researching scholarship information well in advance to have all application materials complete before the deadlines. They can start researching different scholarships such as those provided by the Fund for Education Abroad, DiversityAbroad.com and StudyAbroad.com. You are not limited to these sites, and the Rinker Center encourages you and students to take advantage of other scholarship providers and resources.

 

Your student’s return to Furman and the United States may be exciting for both you and your student. They will come back with stories, photos, memories and a new independence. It is important in the weeks and months following abroad that the student’s community, including their parents and guardians, create a supportive, engaging network for them upon their return.

Upon their return, students likely experience an excitement for reuniting and sharing stories with friends and professors and participating in campus activities and traditions. However, this time of transition from study away can pose its own struggles with reconnection, depression and longing for their host country and their experiences there. This phenomenon is referred to as Reverse Culture Shock (RCS) and it is normal and experienced by many students, whether they have participated in many study away experiences or those who have completed their first experience.

Reverse culture shock is due to the many new or foreign cultural adjustments made by students during their time abroad. Upon their return these adjustments, though maybe small, can conflict with their home culture, causing anxiety as they try to readjust to life at home. Many challenges faced by students upon their return stem from the loss of engagement and the sense of separation from campus and their communities. Unlike Culture Shock, Reverse Culture Shock is unexpected by students. A main reason for such is the conception of “home” being stable and constant, always welcoming and comfortable. However just as the returnees have grown, the old friends and campus have changed as well, causing a disruption in expectations and memory.

Like Culture Shock, Reverse Culture Shock consists of four stages: Euphoria, Shock, Re-Adjustment, and Integration. The first stage, Euphoria, is a rather short stage, and consists of the student’s excitement to return home, sleep in their own bed, and see their old friends, family and pets. Students will often be excite to share their stories and photos to anyone they reconnect with. After some time students experience the second stage, the Shock. Shock is usually accompanied with increased anxiety, moodiness, feelings of isolation and disruption of habits. They may feel alienated from their home society. They may come back with new perspectives on political and social issues, struggle with adjustment to the speed of daily life or access to resources of food they came to expect in their host country. Their friends may start to lack interest in their experience, even if your student has not. It is important for you as parents and guardians to help your student enter the third stage, Re-Adjustment, without neglecting their experiences, skills and personal development during their time abroad.

Guardians can aid in the process of re-adjustment by implementing your student’s host cuisine into a few meals, encourage them to blog or journal about their time, connect them with language clubs or societies, and help facilitate the reflection process on the most impactful experiences. You and your student can brainstorm ideas of how to incorporate your study away experiences into your student’s return to Furman’s campus. You are welcome to reach out to the Rinker Center for possible suggestions or opportunities. Some on-campus options include:
 
1) Applying for a Center for Engaged Learning Peer Ambassador position: a professional experience open to students who have participated in either study away, internships, or undergraduate research. Students work to create new programming, share their experiences with other students, and help connect students to resources on campus.
2) Conduct Research: Research is not limited to science-based area, rather all fields of study. Have your student get in contact with the Undergraduate Research Office or a faculty member about potential opportunities for research.
3) Apply for an Internship: Internships provide professional contacts and helps students learn how to translate their study away experience to be marketable on resumes, interviews and networking opportunities. Reach out to Furman’s Internship Office about further advising and opportunities!
4) Engage in Mentoring Programs On-Campus: mentoring provides students a way to re-engage with fellow students and allows them to reflect on, highlight and utilize their global knowledge and experiential skills while combating stereotypes and misconceptions.
5) Join/Create a New Organization: Students often return to campus with new interests or wanting to expand upon their learned experiences. Furman offers a wide variety of clubs and activities for students on-campus! If a club or organization is not yet present on campus, encourage your student to use their recently developed skills to create a space for their interests and the interests of others.
6) Apply for a Leadership Position: Being in a leadership position provides students to take on more responsibility in their return home while adding to their resume.
7) Create a CLP: Is there a subject in which your student became highly engaged? Support them in creating a CLP event on the subject!