Study abroad is a life-changing experience. Fostering maturity and independence, developing cross-cultural perspectives, enhancing foreign language ability, and generating global experience are all important reasons to encourage study abroad as a part of a well-rounded education. In today’s competitive job market, international experience through study abroad is highly desired. In fact, a recent study in 2012 conducted by IES Abroad found that studying abroad may be one of the best ways for college students to find jobs sooner after graduation, related to their majors, and at a higher salary.
At AEA, we understand that excitement for your sons’ and daughters’ education abroad is paired with concern for their health and wellbeing. We encourage you to call us at any point, before, during, or after your child’s study abroad experience with any questions or concerns you may have. Below are some answers to frequently asked questions by parents about study abroad, specific to AEA. Please also visit our Health and Safety and Emergency Procedures pages for more information.
Communicating with your son or daughter while abroad
AEA will provide you with full contact information for all program locations, and details on site-specific communication, prior to your sons’ and daughters’ departure. Students will have internet access while abroad, although it may be limited, depending on the program. Email and Skype (an internet chat program) are usually the best way to stay in touch, though you may also wish to send letters and small care packages. Please be aware that a delay in the arrival of mail is likely, and some locations have an unreliable mail service. Valuables should not be sent through the mail. Students will also have access to phone communication, although it is often expensive and the quality of service varies by location.
Homesickness is a common experience abroad that often occurs four to six weeks into a program. We encourage you to communicate with your son or daughter, through phone calls, email and especially hand-written notes. This said, we encourage students to limit their time spent on the internet and phone to take full advantage of the cultural experiences offered while abroad. We have found that students who communicate with people at home on a weekly basis gain more from their cultural immersion abroad than those who communicate more often.
Faculty and Staff support abroad
All of our programs have a team of experienced faculty and staff abroad that work closely with each student throughout their time abroad. We intentionally keep a small student to faculty ratio, and have small programs to be able to provide individualized, excellent services—as well as academics—to our students. Many of our program faculty and staff have taught and/or served students on our program for many years. In addition, all of our programs provide in-depth health, safety and cultural orientations at the onset of the program as well as in-depth pre-departure materials to prepare students for a successful study abroad experience. AEA administrative staff, located in Yellow Springs, Ohio, is in continual communication with our program faculty and staff abroad. Together, we work to resolve any issues that may arise while students are abroad, or in the case of an emergency. Please read our Health and Safety section and Emergency Procedures for more information.
Costs and financial aid
Each year, the majority of students receive some form of financial aid from their home institutions to participate in an AEA program. AEA staff work with students and, in many cases, their home institutions to ensure that the opportunity to study abroad is accessible and affordable. AEA Assistant Directors are available to advise students and assist them in this individualized, and often complex, process.
We strongly encourage all prospective students to meet with their study abroad and financial aid offices at their school to discuss their policies and obtain a financial aid estimate towards their term(s) abroad. Contact us to request a detailed cost breakdown for financial aid. Each school has their own policies towards transferring financial aid to study abroad. Some schools will also request to see detailed information on the academic program abroad, including course syllabi, which we are happy to provide.
Many students are successful at applying to outside grants and scholarships specifically for study abroad. It is important to begin the scholarship application process as early as possible, as many have earlier deadlines. See AEA’s Scholarships and Financial Aid section of the website for additional information, including our Scholarships & Grants Guide to Study Abroad, and AEA’s Irwin Abrams & Paula Spier Study Abroad Scholarship. As needed, individual payment plans through AEA may be arranged for those who qualify.
Please encourage your son or daughter to contact us to discuss financial aid, scholarships and grants in greater detail.
We’ve included a Returning Home section that you may wish to read, including reflections on cultural adjustments and culture shock. All program participants, regardless of maturity, or previous travel abroad will experience some degree of culture shock upon arrival in a new country. This phenomenon can be characterized by periods of elation, frustration, and even mild depression before students gain confidence in their new surroundings and begin to adjust. This is a normal response to the changes of living in a new cultural enviroment, and it is likely that your son or daughter may experience some of these feelings. Our program faculty and staff are available to advise and support students, and it does get better over time.
Overall, participation in an AEA program can be one of the most rewarding aspects of an undergraduate education, shaping an expanded worldview through the integration of rigorous study, cross-cultural perspectives and hands-on education. At AEA, we welcome all of your questions and concerns, feel free to contact us at any point before, during or after your child’s study abroad experience. We are here to support you, as well as your sons and daughters. We look forward to talking with you about any questions you have, and thank you for considering all that AEA has to offer.