Study Abroad

Parent FAQs

Student holding a sign that says "Thanks Mom and Dad" in a foreign countryDear Parents,

Thank you for considering your student’s request to study abroad while at Mount Saint Mary College. We are excited that they have taken the first step toward becoming a global citizen! Studying abroad is a profound experience, and most students return home having gained a whole new perspective of the world.

It is the goal of the Career Center to make sure that you and your student are well informed, prepared, and supported before, during, and after their time abroad. This opportunity will be academically and personally fulfilling so that they can experience the unparalleled opportunities that come with living and learning in a foreign country.


FAQs for Parents

Please note that the Mount Saint Mary College Career Center cannot discuss information from a student's records unless we have received a completed FERPA form from the student.

Where can I find information about my student's semester-long study abroad program like housing and fees?
You can obtain program information by contacting the Career Center directly, or by seeking out the appropriate university or third-party provider with whom your student is travelling.

My student has been accepted to a program. Can I see the materials they received?
Yes, of course! If you wish to speak to your student's study abroad advisor directly, you may call 845-569-3175 between 9:00am-5:00pm Monday-Friday or email studyabroad@msmc.edu at any time.

What about financial aid?
Financial aid will come through the student's home campus in the U.S. Students can contact the Financial Aid Office directly or speak with their study abroad advisor.

Does my student need health insurance while abroad?
Yes. Students will be advised as to what insurance is relevant to each country. Mount Saint Mary College works closely with each student to make sure that they have the appropriate coverage for any and all emergencies and will recommend purchasing additional insurance if needed. Most universities and exchange organizations require that all students have a health insurance plan while studying outside of their home country. During an international educational experience, the student may need to see a doctor, have a prescription filled, receive care at a hospital, or deal with an unexpected medical emergency. The medical benefits provided under the college’s insurance, United Healthcare Global Health, can help protect your student against these unforeseeable circumstances. It is also acceptable for you and your student to use a different health care provider. 

Will my student need a visa?
This varies by country. The Career Center can provide support during the visa process, but ultimately, visa requirements are dictated by the host country's government. Countries often change their visa requirements without notifying us, and as we try our hardest to stay on top of any minor or major changes, it is encouraged for all students to also be as up-to-date as possible on the visa process.

How do I budget for study abroad?
Budgets will be discussed throughout the application and acceptance process, and your student will have copies of the suggested budgeting amounts per program. Please understand that we cannot guarantee the costs of travel and daily expenses, and that the amounts suggested will vary. Parents and students should have a plan in place should additional funds be needed while abroad.

What about orientation?
The Career Center conducts a pre-departure orientation which parents are invited to attend. The date, time, and location will be emailed to your student a few months before departure.

What about health and safety abroad?
Mount Saint Mary College believes the safety and security of your student is of the upmost importance, and parents can request any and all copies of our emergency and safety protocols. Students have dedicated professionals at their host sites who are committed to ensuring the safety of our programs and of our students. Students travelling with third-party institutions or with other universities will have professionals from those programs as point persons for any security or safety issues. The names and contact information for those persons are available through the Career Center.

How much will study abroad cost?
The cost depends on the type of program that is chosen, the length of stay, and the sponsoring school or program, among other factors. If the program is through Mount Saint Mary College, the program fees will include tuition, accommodations, airfare, and some excursions. Fees vary based on location and amount of time abroad. A non-refundable $250 deposit is due at the time the student submits their application. 

If a student chooses an independent program, the student will pay tuition to Mount Saint Mary College. Housing and other program fees will be paid to the third party provider. Students are responsible for all provider fees including housing, living costs and airfare.

Will all grades/credits be accepted by the home university?
The courses/classes the student plans to take abroad must be pre-approved by their academic advisor, the division chair, study abroad coordinator and MSMC Registrar to ensure that the maximum amount of credits for the courses taken will be received.

How long is a study abroad program?
The program duration depends on the program chosen. Study abroad programs generally range from 2 weeks to a semester. The amount of time the student is able to spend abroad and the time of year they choose to go abroad can be determined by answering a few simple questions:

  • How much time will MSMC approve for travel abroad and still accept the credits?
  • Will they be focused enough to fulfill a specific curriculum and still fully experience the culture if the stay is only a few weeks? Will there be enough time for independent travel within this timeframe?
  • Will they be disciplined enough to follow through on their courses if too much time is spent abroad? 
  • Will they have enough spending money to stay for a long period of time and still be able to eat, travel independently, etc.?

What are the housing options?
The housing options depend entirely upon the program that is being offered. Many students are expected to live on campus in either single or double occupancy rooms. Others may have the option to live off campus in apartments or participate in a home stay and live in the home of a nearby family. If the student is expected to arrange their own housing, ask for recommendations from the third party provider because student housing in foreign countries is not always easy to come by and may be expensive. It is also a good idea to find out what is included in the housing package (meals, linens, etc.) so your student will not be caught off guard with any unexpected expenses.

All housing options will be similar to the accommodations that students in the host country would have. These accommodations may not be to the same standards as MSMC students are used to and there may be some culture shock when adapting to a new environment. 

How much spending money is needed?
The amount of money that will be needed for the trip depends on the expenses that the student may be required to pay while abroad. It is a good idea to create a budget prior to departure that separates any known living and school expenses such as food, housing, transportation, and textbooks from general spending money (independent travel, tourist attractions and souvenirs). Keep in mind that having a budget does not mean that the student needs to carry cash around for each of these expenses.

The student should consider using several different forms of payment for expenses. Credit cards, ATM cards, and cash are accepted almost everywhere. Although U.S. dollars are also widely accepted throughout the world, the student should make every attempt to use the local currency. ATMs are readily available in all countries to which students travel and students will need to notify their banks prior to their departure as many banks need to authorize those transactions prior to departure. Credit cards with Visa and MasterCard logos are widely accepted.

Where can the student exchange money?
To obtain foreign currency, any of the following can be used:

AIRPORT EXCHANGE BUREAU: Currency exchange offices are available at almost all international airports. Although the rates may not be the lowest, it is probably the most convenient location to exchange money when the student first arrives. Note: because the destination airport is certain to have a large supply of the local currency, its rates for exchange may be lower than the rates at the student's home airport, which may only have a limited supply of the foreign currency.

BANKS / ATM / CREDIT CARDS: After the student has had a chance to get accustomed to his/her new surroundings, a national bank or an ATM machine can be found, which are known to offer the lowest exchange rates. Using a credit card can also secure a decent exchange rate and is often safer than carrying around a lot of cash. Visa and MasterCard are all widely accepted around the world. Keep in mind, however, that using an ATM/debit card may incur additional bank/commission charges.

With all the money changing options available, the best thing the student can do is to be an educated traveler. Know what the current exchange rate is and be able to calculate how much should be received in return for each transaction. Also, be safe when carrying money and do not carry all of it at once.

Who is responsible for making travel arrangements?
Students participating in MSMC faculty-led study abroad will have their flights arranged for them and the cost of these flights is included in their program fee. The students are responsible for arranging their own transport to and from their airport of departure. 

If the student is traveling independently, then the student is responsible for purchasing their airfare unless the program says otherwise. Do not book airfare until a student is approved by MSMC and is given a departure date from the program. Any additional travel plans that the student chooses to make are generally not included in the program fee. If the student plans to travel between different countries while abroad, be sure he/she applies for the appropriate visas and clearances in advance, enrolls their travel plan into the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Program (STEP) and lets the Study Abroad Coordinator know.

What documents are needed to travel abroad?
Please note: This is only a sample list of documents that may be required for international travel. The actual documents your student will need vary depending on the location of the program. Be sure to contact the hosting institution for official pre-departure information. In all cases, fill out any applications and make all necessary appointments for each document well in advance as it can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to complete the process.

  • PASSPORT: The most widely used form of identification for international travel is a passport. Almost all foreign countries require that visitors have a passport. For more information regarding the application/renewal process, visit www.travel.state.gov or call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778.
  • VISA: A visa is a permit from an international country that allows visitors to enter and leave their borders, and may be required for the chosen program or by any countries that the student plans to visit while traveling independently. Visas often list planned travel dates and do expire, so be sure to have these dates available when applying. For more information about visas and how to apply, visit www.travel.state.gov.
  • INTERNATIONAL STUDENT IDENTITY CARD (ISIC): Although not usually required, the ISIC may be a valuable document for which to apply. In addition to identifying your child as a student, it may help him/her qualify for discounts on airfare, travel insurance, medical and health assistance, and entrance fees to museums and other cultural sites around the world. This card can be purchased through various websites, travel agencies, or from many U.S. colleges and universities. Visit www.internationalstudentidcard.com for more information about how to obtain a card.
  • INTERNATIONAL CERTIFICATE OF VACCINATIONS: The student may be required to obtain a number of different vaccinations prior to entering a foreign country. The list of required vaccinations and facilities that can provide these vaccinations can be found on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention webpage. Visit https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/ to learn more. 

Will the student be able to communicate without having a firm grasp of the language?
It is possible that wherever the student goes, he/she will be able to find someone that speaks even a little English, but it is always beneficial for the student to make every effort to learn the local language, or at least some key phrases, as it will enable him/her to make the most out of the study abroad experience. If your child is not comfortable with the language, a program should be selected where the courses are taught in English. Another option is to enroll in an intensive language class prior to departure.

How can we keep in touch with our student while they are abroad?
Mail, telephone, and email are all available means to communicate with students abroad. While rates may be higher to connect overseas, the services work very similar to those here in the United States. You can check with your current service provider to see if international service is available on your current calling plan. Another popular option used by many students is to obtain a host country SIM card and connect to the local network. WhatsApp and Voxer are just a few of the common apps students use to communicate with loved ones back home as long as they have a Wi-Fi connection.

Is there anything else I should know?
Your student will be going through some life-changing experiences. Generally, when students land on foreign soil, they experience a phenomenon called "culture shock." They may feel disorientated or experience discomfort in trying to adjust to another culture. Don't be alarmed if you receive a phone call after 24 hours of their arrival. The best thing to do is to be positive.

SAFETY IS A PRIMARY CONCERN: It is impossible to guarantee absolute safety of your student while they are away. The Career Center requires every student to enroll in the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Program (STEP) which registers U.S. citizens with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. This program will deliver safety condition updates in the destination country and help Americans stay informed in the event there is a natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency. Students are required to read country-specific pre-departure information and be familiar with the customs and culture of the country to be visited. Students should always leave a travel itinerary with contact information for parents and for host university personnel, just in case.

RE-ENTRY: THE TIME YOUR STUDENT COMES HOME FROM STUDYING ABROAD: It is quite possible that he/she will be suffering from jet-leg and or reverse culture shock. Reverse culture shock can be a real problem for some, especially those who have spent an academic year abroad. Your help will be of great assistance during this time of confusion and disorientation. If students have grown accustomed to the culture of the host country, they might be bored to be back home or feel a lack of direction. During the period of re-adjustment, students will try to get back into the normal routine and may find it difficult due to experiences and things they have learned. Your student has changed in many ways: personally, culturally, academically, and professionally. 

POST-TRAVEL HEALTH RECOMMENDATIONS: If your student feels ill within 12 months after a trip abroad, they should mention to the physician the countries they have visited.