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For Families

Celebrate Your Student’s Choice

Congratulations! Your student is about to embark on a life-changing educational experience.

Studying abroad is different from and complementary to what your student can get in Ithaca. It's a chance to connect with Cornell peers in new ways, study and make friends with local students, and experience every facet of life in a new country. It's a wise choice—and a brave one. We hope you’ll let your student know how proud you are.

The Education Abroad team works with students to identify study abroad programs that fit their academic, professional, and personal goals. On this page and throughout our website, you’ll find resources to answer your family's questions about study abroad and help you and your student prepare.

Let Your Student Take the Lead

Students in front of waterfall

Study abroad is an experience that will challenge your student to step out of their comfort zone. It’s in this space—outside of the familiar—where students learn new skills, gain new perspectives, and make new connections in another part of the world.

One of the core skills students sharpen through study abroad is independence—so we ask that you support your student from the sidelines, allowing them to lead the way with your guidance.

The best way for you to be involved is to empower your student to engage in the application and orientation process and seek out advice when they need it. Our advisors are always here to help!

Will you keep me informed about my student's progress?

Part of the transformational growth is our expectation that students own their international experience. This is why Education Abroad communicates directly with students before, during, and after their time abroad. We encourage students to share information about their experiences and program with their families.

Staying Connected During Study Abroad

Students in jungle

Once abroad, we hope you’ll support your student from afar as they grow in confidence and independence while exploring new cultures, languages, academic perspectives, career opportunities, and ways of life.

Share your expectations about communication before your student departs. Sometimes students and families have different ideas about frequency and type of communication, and feelings can get hurt. Take some time to establish common ground so you all know what to expect when they’re abroad. Then you can share the plan with family members and friends and help your student by managing expectations at home.

Staying in regular communication with your student abroad can present some challenges. Check out our recommended strategies below.

How to Keep in Touch

We recommend a few strategies for staying connected during study abroad:

  • Choose a free or low-cost communication method. There are many phone apps that facilitate free calls and messaging. A few common free services are iMessage, WhatsApp, WeChat, FaceTime, GroupMe, and Zoom. The best option for you and your student may depend on the country where they're traveling.
  • Set up an easy check-in—such as a Monday morning WhatsApp message—to confirm everything is fine. This can reduce worry and the impulse to pester across time zones!
  • Some U.S. cell phone carriers have reasonably priced international plans. Check with your cell phone carrier to learn about your options—or use this site to compare international phone plans. Learn about international roaming fees and get calling tips from the FCC.

It's natural to want to hear from your student immediately when they arrive. Before your student leaves, confirm who they'll contact and how they plan to communicate when they’ve made it safely to their destination. Keep it simple!

When students arrive, they are often exhausted and busy getting acclimated to their new environment. Depending on the host country, immediate access to Wi-Fi or a phone connection may be difficult. Factor in a bit of a delay—give your student 24 hours to settle in.

Resources for the Adventure

On This Website

Explore this website to discover a range of resources to help you prepare for your student’s international adventure. Begin the journey at Get Started, which includes information on academic requirements and finances. Visit Go Abroad for predeparture essentials, including Travel, Health, and Safety and Apply for Housing.

From Global Cornell

U.S. Government