“Mom, Dad, I want to study abroad.”

What would you say if your son or daughter wanted to attend classes in another country?

Saying yes to study abroad may be the most important decision you ever make in your son’s or daughter’s academic career. The opportunity to study a foreign culture from a close perspective may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Why not take advantage of it now?

Here at the Rinker Center for Global Affairs, we want to show you what a rewarding experience study abroad can be for your student. We're here to help you and your student take this exciting step into the world of international study.

Each year, more than 400 Ball State students participate in study-abroad programs across the globe. Some programs last for an academic year, while others are a semester, a summer, or just a few weeks. College is an exciting time, and studying abroad is a vital part of that experience. Don't let common misconceptions keep your student from making the most of his or her college years. Before making a decision, read the facts about our study abroad programs.

“Where Are You Sending My Student?”

Imagine studying architecture in Rome, marine biology in Australia, or tagging butterflies in Belize. At the Rinker Center, we send Ball State students to over 60 different countries. New programs are being added every year.

See All Our Programs

“But College Is a Time to Study, Not a Vacation.”

At the Rinker Center, we place the emphasis on study as well as abroad. Your student will have the opportunity to choose from programs or courses in almost any discipline. Students will have the chance to take exciting classes that may not be available at Ball State. While they study abroad, their learning doesn't stop in the classroom. Your student will have the chance to explore a different world and experience a culture unlike any at home.

“My Son/Daughter Doesn't Speak Another Language”

International study isn't just for foreign language majors. In addition to study sites in the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia, students may also choose programs in countries where English is not the official language. Many of Ball State's programs are led by faculty members who are familiar with the host country and can offer valuable guidance for your student. All of our students also attend a predeparture orientation program to help ease the transition into a new culture.

“How Much Is This Going to Cost Our Family?”

Many students do not consider study abroad opportunities because they are concerned about the finances. In reality, international study doesn't cost much more than studying at Ball State. Scholarships, grants, and student loans will apply to our study abroad programs. We even have special Ball State scholarships for overseas study. Contact the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships at 765-285-5600 for more information.

Focus on the Future

Let's face it — the world is getting smaller. First-hand knowledge of another culture and foreign language ability will help put your student in demand in today's competitive job market. Most important, the experience of studying abroad will give students the opportunity to learn more about themselves and the world in which we live.

Say yes to study abroad!

Families can play an important role in study abroad. It is important to find a balance between helping your student to make wise choices and allowing them to take charge of their own experience.

How to Help Your Student

  • Engage your student throughout their program-selection process. Ask your student to explain why they have selected a particular program. Research the country, educational system, and culture together.
  • You may want to consider having your student complete valid power of attorney agreement for the time period they will be abroad. This will allow the attorney-in-fact to sign documents, conduct banking, and access medical or academic records on the student's behalf. These documents can be drawn up, free of charge, by Student Legal Services at Ball State.
  • Help to make sure your student's passport and any required immigration documentation (student visa) are in order. Contact the appropriate consulate with any questions about visa applications.
  • Develop a plan for how to handle family emergencies that may arise while your student is away. Create a list of emergency phone numbers and email addresses.
  • Help with travel planning. Consider speaking with a travel agent to book flights or purchase rail passes. Urge your student to contact the airline to find out luggage requirements before they pack.
  • Set up a doctor's appointment for your student. Every student planning to go on a Ball State program is strongly encouraged to have a physical exam prior to departure. Ask the doctor about immunizations and health issues specific to the host country. Research laws and availability for any medications your student requires to ensure they are legal abroad. It is a good idea to include a copy with the chemical breakdown because brand names vary worldwide.

Culture Shock

All students experience some degree of culture shock during their time abroad.

It is important for family and friends to recognize the signs and symptoms and remain supportive. If you receive frequent emails or phone calls, you may recognize a change from “everything is great” to “this place is awful.”

It takes a while to settle in and begin to put things in perspective. If your student seems stuck in a negative mindset, try to remain positive and supportive. Usually they are just venting to people who understand.

Encourage them to speak to a faculty director, host coordinator, or another international students about these feelings.

However, if you truly believe your student is having trouble, please contact our office immediately so we may investigate the situation.

Re-entry Shock

Coming home can be just as difficult. This is particularly true for students who spend a semester or year abroad.

It will take a bit of time to readjust. Study-abroad students grow personally. They may feel frustrated because they changed, but everything at home is still exactly the same. Be patient and allow your student time to share stories and memories from abroad. Eventually, they will fall back into step with life in the U.S.

Keeping in contact with your student while they are abroad is now easier than ever.

Email, mobile phones, social media, and prepaid long-distance cards have replaced the handwritten letters of the past. Students can now remain connected from across the world.

Technology varies from country to country, but you should encourage your student to check in with their new contact information as soon as they get settled. Once your student is abroad, have them provide you with the following information:

  • host family name or name of residence abroad
  • overseas phone number
  • host school name or program name
  • name and contact information for the on-site advisor

Prior to departure, agree on how best you will contact each other, via phone, email, or internet phone services. Free internet phone services are available for most smart phone users with a wifi connection. Popular programs include Line, Viber and WhatsApp.

How to Call Overseas

To contact your student, simply dial:

  • 011 + Country Code + City Code + Phone Number
See Country Calling Codes.

Time Zones

One of the most challenging parts of calling your student is adjusting to the time difference.

If have trouble remembering what time it is for your student, just visit the World Time Clock to set up a personal time zone clock.

Participant safety and security are our number one concern. The Study Abroad Office regularly monitors events overseas, receives daily briefings from the U.S. Department of State, and keeps in constant contact with our global partners.

“Aren't Americans Often the Target of Terrorists and Others Unfriendly to Our Nation's Values or Foreign Policy?”

There are very few documented instances in the history of study abroad when political violence appeared to specifically target American students.

However, carrying a U.S. passport, in and of itself, is no guarantee of safety or absolute security. In certain places and certain times, it is very possible to get caught in political strife that may or may not be directed at foreigners, generally, or Americans in particular.

“Who Can Help My Daughter or Son If Trouble Erupts?”

In those few locations where even remote danger might occasionally exist, program directors work with local police, U.S. consular personnel, and local university officials in setting up whatever practical security measures are deemed prudent.

In such places, students will be briefed during orientation programs and reminded at times of heightened political tension about being security-conscious in their daily activities.

Terrorism is a 21st century reality. To succumb to the threat by reacting in fear may well be the objective that terrorists seek to achieve. On the other hand, no one wants to make this point at the expense of the health and safety of your daughter or son.

All Ball State study abroad programs include overseas insurance, which includes major medical, evacuation, repatriation, and 24-hour emergency assistance.

How Can I Tell in Advance Which Countries Might Be Dangerous? Is Watching the Nightly News and Reading the Newspaper Enough?

The U.S. government monitors the political conditions in every country of the world daily.

More Information

For current information, advisories, or warnings, you can:

Read tips for students.

Parents with concerns about crime and security threats in a given country are urged to take advantage of U.S. Department of State travel advisories, which are available to the public free of charge. Travel warnings are issued when the State Department decides, based on all relevant information, to recommend that Americans avoid travel to a certain country.

Consular information sheets are available for every country of the world. They include information such as location of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, unusual immigration practices, health conditions, minor political disturbances, unusual currency and entry regulations, crime and security information, and drug penalties.

If an unstable situation exists but is not severe enough to warrant a travel warning, this is duly noted. Public announcements contain information about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term and transnational conditions posing significant risks to the security of American travelers.

If Our Son/Daughter Is Abroad When Something Dangerous Develops, How Can We Make Contact? What If Something Happens Here and We Need to Communicate Immediately?

Don't let your student leave home without having as many reliable means of contact as possible in place: a mailing address, an email address, and phone and fax numbers.

You should develop a family communication plan for regular telephone or email contact, with contingencies for emergency situations.

With this in place, in times of heightened political tension, natural disaster, or other difficulty, you should be able to communicate with each other directly about safety and well-being.

Instant international communication in emergency situations continues to improve with easy access to international email access and cell phones around the world.