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Despite concerns that terrorist attacks around the world might frighten college students away from studying abroad, statistics show that both the number of students going overseas and the number coming into the United States have held steady or risen this year.

Students applying for international study programs say that worldwide political tensions have influenced them, but in a positive way: they want to know more about international relations, other cultures and the history of conflicts. Going abroad to study and experiencing another culture first-hand is the best way to learn about other countries.

Staff members of St. Lawrence University's Center for International and Intercultural Studies, which sends students on programs in 14 foreign countries, have compiled a list of questions for the parents of students considering extended study abroad. Parents should feel well informed about the program in which their sons and daughters are participating, and should feel free to ask the sponsoring college or university for information.

For Parents: Questions You Should Ask

- How can I prepare myself?

Parents should consider reading the same materials their son or daughter reads when making the decision to study abroad. Also, check to see if specific information tailored for parents is available - many schools provide this type of information. You should also be reading international news stories in order to keep up with what is happening in the host country, as well as globally.

- What are the "symptoms" of cultural adjustment and will I recognize them in my child?

It would be a good idea to know something about cultural adjustment in order to help your child get through the initial "roadblocks" when minor problems seem like major crises. Check with the study abroad office at the college your daughter or son attends - most have a lot of experience dealing with such "symptoms," and are the best resource for parents.

- Does my child have enough money to have a safe, enriching experience?

- Is my son or daughter sufficiently insured, with worldwide coverage including medical evacuation?

- Does my child have a credit card to use in case of medical and other emergencies that must be covered immediately?

- What is the best means of communication? How often should I expect to hear from my child and/or the school running the program?

- Who is the primary contact at my child's college and at the program office abroad, should I need to be in touch?

- Have I provided my child's college with accurate and updated contact information so that she or he can reach me in an emergency?

For students heading abroad, the St. Lawrence's Center for International and Intercultural Studies staff suggests five things to bring and five things to leave at home.

Five things to bring:

- Copies of all important documents and credit card information (one copy with you, while one is left at home)
- All necessary medications and prescriptions (including contacts and eye glasses)
- Good walking shoes
- Clothes that can be layered, so you're ready for anything, including wet weather
- Your sense of humor, adventure and responsibility

Five things to leave at home:

- Your hair dryer, curling iron and other small electrical appliances. It's easier to buy them there - plus, the items you buy there will not need a converter
- Too many clothes and all expensive jewelry (watches included) that may be easily lost or stolen
- Extra "doodads," mementos from home, entire photo albums, etc.
- The idea that everything will be like it is at home
- Your cell phone from home - it won't work abroad

Posted: December 9, 2002