College is the perfect chance for students to immerse themselves in another culture so they can contribute to our global society. It is not often people get the chance to have an amazing international experience for this amount of time at this cost. Study abroad makes students stand out in their home society as well as in the job market. It proves that they are willing to step out of their comfort zone, be challenged and work with people who live differently from them.
Students come home from their study abroad experiences with more self-confidence, a better sense of responsibility and intellectual and personal growth. The Mississippi State University Office of Study Abroad is here specifically to assist students through the entire journey from choosing a program to returning home. We work with students to figure out their goals for study abroad, understand how course credit works, share information on financial aid and scholarships and prepare them for their departure and time abroad.
Support from parents as a student begins the conversation about study abroad is one of the most important components. Encourage them to look for programs and ask questions early. As parents, we understand you may have some questions for us. You should be able to find answers to most of your questions on our website, but please feel free to reach out to our office with any additional questions or concerns you may have.
Below are some tips for making the study abroad experience successful for your student:
- Be supportive of your students desire to study abroad. A parents’ support is one of the biggest things a student worries about when researching options. Study abroad helps students to grow personally and professionally and your support calms their nerves when going to a new place.
- Allow your student the ability to take on the responsibility of planning their program. They won’t have you with them while abroad and need to know what to expect as well as what they need to prepare before and during their time abroad. This will also help improve their self-confidence and independence while abroad.
- Learn about and research the country and city where your student is going. This will help them to know how excited you are for them. The more you know, the more supported they will feel.
- Communicate with your student while abroad! There are a lot of free methods to communicate internationally. Students will miss home while abroad and being able to Skype or text gives them a sense of comfort in their new surroundings.
- Understand that you will not be able to talk to your student 24/7. Oftentimes Wi-Fi can be spotty and they may not have access everywhere they go. There is also likely going to be a large time difference between you and the student. Be mindful that you may not hear from them for several days at a time but don’t be concerned.
- Realize when your student returns home, he/she may have a different perspective on themselves and their way of life. New ideas and cultures often influence students to make changes in their personal lives.
- Be aware your student may have some difficulty adjusting to life back in the United States after their time abroad. This is normal for everyone. Encourage your student to share their experiences with you and their friends to help them through this readjustment period.
- Encourage your student to get a summer job or start saving for their study abroad experience on top of what you may be chipping in. When students save and use their own money for the program, it gives them a sense of accomplishment because they are able to contribute towards a goal of theirs.
Why should my child study abroad?
Studying abroad gives students an invaluable opportunity to expand one’s horizons and gain a new perspective on the world while being immersed in an exciting new culture. Students who study abroad develop intercultural communication and problem-solving skills that cannot be acquired at home. Through study abroad, students strengthen their abilities to overcome challenges while living in a new culture and speaking a different language. Students who study abroad have enhanced employment prospects because the value of one’s degree increases because of their experience.
Key competencies gained through study abroad:
- Enhances awareness of cultures and customs
- Foreign language proficiency
- Ability to identify and achieve goals
- General improvement in communication skills
- Increased confidence and initiative
- Greater flexibility
- Sense of humor
- Awareness of global, economic, and political issues
- Ability to maintain an open mind and be tolerant of others
- Clarification of goals and improved self-awareness
- General travel skills
- Resource management
- Organizational problem solving
- Crisis management
- Listening and observation
- Increased independence and self-reliance
- Stronger time-management skills
- Comfort with uncertainty