Study Abroad

Information for Families

Having a family member pack up and travel thousands of miles away can be a nerve-wracking experience. But remember, while abroad, UD students are in very good hands. The University of Delaware founded study abroad in the U.S., sending the first group of students to France back in 1923. This is an institution with considerable experience in travel study programming, and we take the safety and security of our students seriously Student safety is our #1 priority.  


Beginning with several pre-departure orientation and information sessions and continuing overseas, Delaware programs abroad offer a strong, comprehensive support system for all participants. But we also treat them like adults, giving them responsibilities and expecting them to uphold the University Code of Conduct, to carefully read this Health & Safety Guide, and to sign an Agreement and General Release Form.


In this vein, it is important for families to keep in mind that part of the travel study experience is learning to cope with challenges and solve one’s own problems.  Facing and overcoming the inevitable mishaps of travel on their own will help students develop important qualities sought after by employers, such as resiliency, flexibility, and resourcefulness.  While traveling, students will often contact their families out of frustration, and certainly families will want to empathize and reassure them.  However, the best way to help is to urge students to go to their on-site faculty or staff for assistance, as it is these individuals who can solve problems most efficiently.  Families can also help by reminding students that not every difficulty is a crisis.  A delayed flight, or even something as unpleasant as bed-bugs, is certainly inconvenient and perhaps even problematic, but is not a true emergency (unlike an earthquake or a burst appendix).  Please understand that UD staff cannot discuss on-site problems or concerns with students’ families, as this would be a breach of confidence with the student.  Generally speaking, the line of communication runs from the student to the on-site staff person/faculty to UD.  Of course, in a true emergency we would contact as needed the individual designated as “emergency contact” on a student’s travel study application. 


We recommend that families talk seriously with their students about the adventures and responsibilities of the upcoming travel study experience. Together, take a look at the program materials, including the program website and the acceptance information. Find out when the mandatory pre-departure orientation meetings will be held and feel free to attend... they're not just for students. Ask your student to give you a copy of the program itinerary, in-country contact information, and other handouts.  Discuss the types of payments due and when they are due so that all payments are made on time, and clarify which items are included in the program fee and which costs are the students’ responsibility.


As a precaution, we encourage at least one member of a student’s family to apply for a passport, or - if you already have one - make sure that it's current. In an emergency situation, having a passport gives you the freedom to immediately fly overseas. During a crisis, the last thing you want is to wait for paperwork (or pay exorbitant fees) when your student needs you at their side.


As you help your student to plan for this upcoming learning adventure, you might also enjoy watching this CNN video about travel study by First Lady, Michelle Obama, and reading this article published in Better Homes and Gardens magazine entitled "Before They Go Abroad," by James McCommons. For tips about helping your student to transition at the end of their program, read Welcoming Returning Students by Bruce LaBrack and Margaret Pusch.


If an emergency occurs at the last minute, and your son or daughter cannot travel study, make sure that they follow these procedures to withdrawal from their program.  


For more detailed information, please refer to our “FAQ for Families” below.


Please feel free to contact us with questions or comments:
Institute for Global Studies
(302) 831-2852



Frequently Asked Questions for Families  


This FAQ is for families and emergency contacts. Please refer to the general FAQ for other travel study questions.


What is the IGS philosophy on family involvement with their student’s travel study program?


Travel study is an important milestone in many students’ education since it requires a great deal of independence and self-reliance.  Part of the experience is learning to think on your feet, to put things into perspective, and to resolve issues.  To enhance this experience, the Institute for Global Studies (IGS) expects students to direct the course of their own travel study path.  If you have questions or concerns, please share them with your student, and ask that they contact their faculty director, other on-site staff, or our office directly.


Will a faculty or staff member supervise my student at all times?


On most travel study programs, students will have free time when they are not in class, just like they do in Newark. Please understand that during non-class time students are often free to engage in activities of their own choosing, without the supervision of program staff. Depending on the program type and site, this may mean traveling to another city or outside the country, visiting a museum or pub, participating in high-risk activities such as skydiving or bungee jumping, or going on an outing with individuals they've met locally. Please discuss with your student the types of activities which you do and do not encourage. Students should understand that they, not the University, assume full responsibility for their safety and well-being during free periods. However, staff will certainly be available to assist students as best they can in an emergency situation.


Will my student have access to alcohol during their travel study?


Most students will be of legal age to consume alcohol at their program site and may choose to do so in their free time using personal funds.  Because alcohol consumption lowers inhibitions and can leave individuals more vulnerable to theft and/or assault, the University does not endorse such behavior.  However, as students may choose to consume alcohol abroad, we encourage families to discuss with students guidelines for responsible alcohol consumption as a safety precaution.


How can I best help a student who is experiencing a problem?


When students experience problems while traveling, far-away families may feel helpless and unable to assist.  But be aware that you may not have complete information about the situation, and there are usually multiple perspectives involved when problems arise.  Most of the time, the best solution is to put the student in the driver’s seat. Students on UD travel study programs are expected to work with their faculty director and/or on-site staff to address issues when they arise. Families can assist by reminding students of this, and by helping them to put their problems into perspective.  The best way to prepare for the unexpected while abroad is to understand the difference between an inconvenience, a problem, and a crisis, and what action should be taken to address the problem on the ground.


  • Inconvenience: disturbance, annoyance, nuisance, hassle. Inconveniences occur when one’s expectations are not met and plans change.  These may include flight and other transportation delays, lost luggage, bed bugs (ew!), bad weather, a snoring roommate, no convenient Starbucks.  Inconveniences are the most frequently occurring travel challenge. They cut into free time, disturb your sleep, make you hungry and send you jumping through hoops, but can turn into one of your favorite globe-trotting success stories if handled well.

ACTION: In most cases flexibility, creativity and patience will get you get through. The most efficient and effective way to solve the problem (or make the situation more tolerable) is to seek support and guidance from allies on the ground:  classmates, host families, instructors, TAs, faculty directors, or other on-site staff.


  • Problem: complication, dispute, a bad situation – something that is not life-threatening but requires timely or immediate attention. Common travel-related problems include lost money, illness, bodily injury, lost travel documents, safety concerns, and anything that violates the student code of conduct.

ACTION: Contact your faculty director or on-site staff first and quickly. Look for help from hotel/dorm staff, homestay hosts, local police or health care professionals, depending on the nature of the problem.


  • Crisis: emergency, an event that puts safety at risk – think political revolutions, natural disasters and things that don’t happen very often.

ACTION: Know the local number for 9-1-1, and contact the faculty director and/or on-site staff immediately. 


Who will IGS contact if a problem arises?

In general, IGS will only communicate with the individual listed by the student as the Emergency Contact on the student’s program application. Please verify with your student that you are the Emergency Contact on file. If you are not the Emergency Contact, please have your student update their Emergency Contact information in their application to the program.  If you are listed as the Emergency Contact, but your contact information has changed, email to ensure that we have your correct day and evening phone numbers and email address.


What type of information can IGS provide me about my student during their program?

IGS will only communicate with the Emergency Contact when a true problem or emergency arises.  What constitutes an emergency will be decided by IGS on a case-by-case basis. Please understand that UD staff cannot discuss on-site problems or concerns with students’ families, as this would be a breach of confidence with the student. IGS cannot release any confidential student information to families without student permission. Families should obtain flight and accommodation information, and the day-to-day program itinerary, from their student before the student departs.


What is the procedure for addressing a problem that occurs during a program?

Students should first approach their faculty director or on-site staff with any problems or concerns.  This is the most efficient and effective means towards resolution, as the staff on the ground are the most knowledgeable and best equipped to solve any problem.  Please allow some time for the travel study professionals to address the issue. Rest assured that student health, safety, and security are top priorities for all IGS staff. Be aware that because of the time difference, you may not learn of a problem until after a solution has been found.


I incurred out-of-pocket expenses while assisting my student before or during their travel study program; can I get these expenses reimbursed?

IGS will not reimburse any cost a family member may incur while assisting their student in travel study matters. This includes expenses related to transportation, communication, lodging, baggage, and meals, even if these expenses are incurred as a result of a weather-related delay. The University bears no legal or financial responsibility for acts of malfeasance or negligence by transportation carriers, hotels, or third party suppliers and is not obligated to provide restitution.



Where can I find IGS policies for travel study programs?  You can find our policies here.



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  • Make sure you have your student's contact information and itinerary and that you know how to place an international phone call. Consider allowing your student to purchase a cell phone while abroad; make sure you know how to call the cell phone from the U.S.
  • Establish a regular schedule of communication via phone and/or email, and develop a contingency plan in case of emergency (who will call whom and where, alternate phone numbers of family or friends if your lines are busy).
  • Ask your student to send you information on their travel plans during program free periods and to give you the names of other students in the group with whom they're traveling.
  • Keep abreast of current events at the sites where your student is living or traveling. Remember that American media will give a different perspective than in-country media.
  • Note that what a student posts on social media is often without cultural context. What may appear to be a problem from an outside perspective may be normal for that location. IGS has no control or knowledge of what students choose to share via social media.

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  • Institute for Global Studies  •  Clayton Hall, 100 David Hollowell Drive  •   Newark, DE 19716, USA
    Phone: (302) 831-2852  •   Fax: (302) 831-6042  •   © 2018