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Preparing for Education Abroad

As your student prepares for their Education Abroad experience, which will most likely be the most challenging and rewarding experience of their college career, they will benefit from your support.  Support can come in many forms, but most importantly through discussions with your student about their upcoming semester abroad.  Your student will want to speak about their upcoming experience abroad, and may also look to you for guidance.  The topics outlined below should be a point of departure to speak with your student about their upcoming experience abroad to ensure that they and you are adequately prepared for their time abroad.
 

Financial


Students pay Babson College tuition for all programs.  This tuition will be billed to your child by Student Financial Services the same as in the past, and it will be due on the same date, regardless of when your student starts their overseas program.  Other Program-Related and Incidental Expenses (Payment for room, board, application fee, flight, etc.) will be paid directly to the program, overseas institution, housing authority, etc. depending on the time tables set out.  Your child will receive a bill and / or a payment schedule from the sponsor or institution, which he or she will need to adhere to explicitly.  
 

Estimated Program Budgets


The Office of International Programs maintains estimated budgets for each program and institution overseas.  The budget spreadsheets are sent to your student and will assist in planning ahead for their time abroad.  The financial aid office will make awards (or adjustments) based on this budget.  Your student is required to meet with their Student Financial Services Counselor prior to departure to determine exactly how his / her financial aid package applies for their semester abroad experience.
 

Spending money


Your student, depending on their spending habits and the city they are studying in, may need more or less monetary support during their semester abroad than during a semester at Babson.  Some cities like Tokyo, London, or Paris have higher costs of living compared to spending a semester in Babson Park.  The estimated budgets maintained by the Office of International Programs offers an estimation of how much students in the past have needed for spending money for the semester on the program or at the overseas institution that your student is planning to attend.  Use this estimated budget as a guide, but also utilize your knowledge of your student’s spending habits to determine the necessary amount.

It is also advised to have an additional $250 set aside as an emergency fund, in addition to the amount you have estimated for spending money.  

 

Access to Money Overseas


Your student has many options for accessing money for their experience overseas: cash, traveler’s checks, wire transfer, back drafts, checks, debit cards, and credit cards.  Before your student leaves for their overseas experience, discuss the best methods for accessing money and their budget for their time overseas.  In some cases, the program will provide money for food and necessities in the form of cash or meal vouchers, while in other cases it is the responsibility of the student to purchase groceries and prepare their own meals.  Discussing how the student will pay for essentials and non-essential items prior to departure will be a great stepping off point for determining the best way to access money overseas.
 
In some countries it will be essential for your student to pay for items in cash, whereas in other countries it will be best to utilize a credit card or meal vouchers if applicable.  Utilizing a debit card overseas is a great way to access money in the local currency, but often times the bank will charge a service fee for withdrawing funds at a different bank.  While traveler’s checks used to be a helpful way to carry large amounts of money overseas, it is important to research if traveler’s checks are accepted in the location where your student is studying.   Consulting with the U.S. Department of State country specific information section of their website is a great place to start finding information on the best way to access money from an overseas destination.

 

Academics


The most important aspect of a successful overseas experience for your student will be appropriate academic planning.  The Education Abroad Advisors in the Office of International Programs are here for advisement on the overseas curriculum at each program and overseas institution.  Your student can consult with the Education Abroad Advisors to determine the program of best fit for your student in terms of what they would like to study and achieve during their college career.  The Class Deans are available for consultation on the Babson curriculum to ensure that your student will complete their requirements on time and will maintain their path to graduation.  Planning ahead of time will be the most important step in a successful overseas experience.  Students are encouraged to meet with an Education Abroad Advisor and their Class Dean to begin the exploration for a program of best fit during the spring semester of their first year here at Babson.
 

Communication


Routine communication with your student during their overseas experience will be very different from what you are used to during your student’s studies on the Babson campus.  Prior to your student’s departure, decide on a plan for regular communication and a plan for emergency communication.  Regular communication by Skype will be an affordable option for many, whereas on some programs and in some situations, communication via telephone and e-mail will be more practical. 

It is strongly suggested, and in some cases required, that study abroad students maintain a mobile phone during their experience abroad.  Many students use a blackberry during their studies on the Babson campus, and have become used to this level of communication with friends and family at home.  It is imperative to be realistic with expectations around the frequency with which you will speak with your student directly during their overseas experience, and the cost that is associated with a particular device.  It may be prohibitively expensive to unlock a blackberry and use it overseas in the same way, duration, and frequency as they would use it here on the Babson campus.  Discuss with your mobile service carrier the best options for maintaining contact via hand held devices during the overseas experience.  In some cases, it may be more cost effective to purchase a handheld device in country, and use a pay-as-you-go service.  

 

Travel Documents


Your student will need a valid passport to study abroad.  In addition to a passport, your student may be required to also obtain a student visa.  Students will need to prepare for their semester abroad by reviewing the entry and exit requirements of their host country and of the countries they hope to visit during their time abroad, to ensure that they have the necessary documentation to enter and exit each country.

If your student has a pre-existing condition that requires daily medication, it is imperative that the entry and exit requirements for customs for the host country are reviewed.  In some cases, carrying a semester’s supply of medications into the host country is not possible.  If it is possible to carry in semester’s supply of medication, it is imperative that documentation of the student’s medical condition along with a medical prescription is accompanying the medication on the student’s person while passing through customs.  For more information on customs, please visit the U.S. Department of State website.