Parent FAQs

The Center for International Programs is here to partner with your student on their study abroad experience. We recognize many parents and guardians are also very interested in understanding the logistics, costs, and other information about study abroad. This page contains information to answer many of the questions most frequently asked by parents. If you cannot find the answer you need, please ask your student or email

General Information


How can I stay in touch with my student while they are abroad?

Many students use online communication methods for speaking to friends and family while abroad (i.e. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, iMessage, Skype, Zoom).

Time often seems to escape students as they are studying abroad—it is very possible that your student will not be the most prompt in communicating back home. This is normal, but if you have concerns, you can always contact the CIP.

How will Kalamazoo College stay in touch with my student while they are abroad?

Program Coordinators and other CIP staff will contact your student via K College Microsoft Teams for most communications and your student will also receive emails to their K student accounts. Please remember, two-factor authentication is used for both services. If your student has established their two-factor authentication using their cell phone number, they will likely need to alter this before going abroad (their cell phone will not work!)

What will my student do about their phone?

There are a few options. If their current phone plan allows, students may “unlock” their phone and get an international plan, or purchase a sim card in their new country of study and load this into their current phone. Students may also purchase a new phone in their country of study at their expense. Many have purchased “burner” phones (inexpensive phones without contracts) for their time abroad

I have a specific question about my student/ my student’s program/ a unique situation. What do I do?

Contact the CIP at

Key Websites

Orientation Meeting

Will there be a parent orientation?

Parent are encouraged to view the CIP website, including the Parent FAQs page as well as speak to their student for answers to study abroad questions.

I have a specific question about my student/ my student’s program/ a unique situation. What do I do?

Contact the Program Coordinator that oversees your student’s program at

What about the other orientations?

Students are required to attend 3 orientations: health and safety (tailored to the region they are traveling to), mental wellness while abroad, and site-specific (focused on their program). Please speak to your student directly if you have questions that may fall under these categories.

Practical Information


Student Visas

Students will need travel documents (typically a visa) to enter program country. The process begins in U.S. well before departure and may involve:
● travel to U.S. Consulate
● proof of financial solvency
● medical exams, HIV test results, or Certificate of Good Health
● certain specifications for health insurance
● The CIP (Center for International Programs) provides general visa information for all programs and specific information for some K programs
● Students are responsible for on-site process(es) upon arrival
● For students on K partner programs students will be given instructions for the visa process from the partner program or host institution (CET, CIEE, CYA, API, USAC, University of Aberdeen, Queen’s University)

Host Program Communications

● Programs will communicate directly with students, via K student email
● Students will need to make sure they are reading and responding in a timely manner

Air Travel

● Students with a travel subsidy, which pays up to 100% of a student’s international airfare, are required to have their travel arranged by the CIP
● This ticket is typically booked as round-trip travel from the airport closest to the home address on file with the College
● This is subject to change based on availability and price at the time of reservation
● Students are responsible for their own travel to the designated departure airport. The travel subsidy doesn’t cover domestic travel.
● Students with a travel subsidy will receive an itinerary via their Kalamazoo College email once their ticket has been booked
● Students should look at these itineraries as soon as they receive them to make sure all their personal information is correct, if a correction needs to be made students should contact the CIP immediately
● Students will be responsible for any changes to routes and or dates
● Students who are arranging their own travel will be contacted and given the opportunity to book the same flight the College has selected.
● Students must email their full round-trip itinerary the CIP when they have booked their flights
● Students that arrive at their host university early will be responsible for any early meals, local transportation and accommodation
● Students arriving late to their program site will not be able to participate in their program, so it is very important they get there at the correct date and time.
● Students are encouraged to check the airline website prior to departure for baggage limitations on international flights as well as domestic travel
● Arrive at the departing airport 2-3 hours early as there are many steps to go through before boarding the plane
● Students will need to pay close attention to connecting flights, if a student misses a connecting flight or a connecting flight is cancelled, they must contact their resident director/ contact at the program site to let them know
● If the CIP booked the student’s flight, the student should also contact the travel agent for assistance

Sharing Program Dates

● The CIP first verifies and confirms the program dates and then will send the dates to the students via Teams or K student email


How much is this going to cost?

It depends. Financial Aid packages do transfer over into the costs of studying abroad; however, the out-of-pocket cost will vary per student. The CIP strongly encourages all students interested in study abroad to meet with the financial aid office to discuss their aid. There are many resources breaking down costs and helping to estimate budgets.

Is there additional aid available?

Yes. Students with demonstrated need (given their FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) application), may complete the Supplemental Funding Application, outlining their expected costs that exceed their ability. Although this can be completed at any time, it is recommended that students submit the application after they have lived in the new country for a time, in order for them to truly have a sense of the cost of living and their expenses.

How will my student pay for things?

Cash, credit, an ATM card: Cash can be great, but it is not advisable to carry more than what is needed. Credit Cards (especially VISAs) are widely accepted. ATM cards, or debit cards, is one of the best ways to access money. Students should let their bank know when and where they will be going abroad and check what the ATM fees and conversion of currency fees will be.

Personal checks cannot be processed abroad.

If you want to send money to your student, it should be done electronically through a bank account or other safe methods of wire transfer.

How will my student commute to their classes? Will they need a bus pass?

Many programs where bus or other transportation is required will supply your student with a bus pass or other transportation services, established prior to their arrival.

Insurance and Travel Documents

Will my student have insurance while they are abroad? Do I need to provide this?

Students are provided with health/ medical insurance through Kalamazoo College. They will receive insurance information prior to their departure, including a copy of their insurance card. If students or their families wish for additional insurance or medical support, they are welcome to establish such. This is not typically necessary. If you opt for obtaining personal insurance this way please check with your insurance company for regulations on how claims are processed when from outside the United States.

If a student receives medical attention while abroad, they will be expected to pay the medical bill up front. Students will need to get an itemized statement of their medical visit, as well as a receipt for anything they paid. They should promptly send in the itemized statement and claim form to the health insurance company. Most foreign countries do not have the same health insurance system that we do in the United States, and do not bill the insurance directly. U.S. insurance companies will not pay foreign medical bills directly either.

Students are not provided with insurance for personal property.

Safety and Emergencies

● Each site has either an on-site Resident Director or an international student office, this person/office is responsible for addressing student concerns on-site
● Programs will give students local emergency contact info
● In the event of an emergency, CIP will be in contact with the students, local staff and emergency contact

On-site at the Host Institution or Organization

Who is in charge?

The Center for International Programs (CIP) office is tasked with developing institutional relationships all over the world to host Kalamazoo students on study abroad and study away. Most of our programs include on-site support dedicated to visiting students and may work with students all over the world. Host institutions and organizations offer an orientation program to new arrivals (similar to K) and staff in the office are available for follow up questions. 

CIP staff may answer questions about logistics, questions about the local culture, and availability of wellness support at particular sites abroad.

Who will help my student if they are having a problem or are struggling?

Encourage your student to reach out to local international office staff if they have a concern or are struggling. Most, but not all, of our host partners have access to information about local doctors and counselors and are a good first point of contact for students who have a question. K students still have access to the counseling center on an emergency basis, but may not depend on it regularly due to licensing issues and supporting students outside the state of Michigan.

If parents have concerns about their student, please contact the CIP and we will reach out to the student to connect them to the appropriate support options.

How do I know if my student has a K Resident Director?

A Resident Director is a local individual (or individuals) who is extremely familiar with K College and K College students, and will be in communication with Center for International Programs staff throughout the program.  The Resident Director will be helpful for all other items including arrival procedures, the on-site orientation, excursions, emergency numbers, local doctor or counselors, hospital information, and any other cultural information. The following programs have K Resident Directors: Erlangen, Cáceres, Madrid, Quito, Nairobi, Strasbourg, Clermont, and Oaxaca.

All of our programs typically require students to submit additional application and pre-departure materials according to the host program’s instructions. Any questions not answered by the program’s brochure page should be addressed to the partner/host program directly. All students will need to possess, as well as develop, a high level of independence for successful completion study abroad programs, as they will be operating on campuses that are structured very differently than what they experience on K’s campus.

The “W” Curve

I thought study abroad was a great experience—why is my student struggling so much?

Studying abroad follows a general curve resembling a W, with high and low points. Often upon arrival, students experience a “honeymoon” phase with their location and program, loving every moment of the new experience. Then, they experience a “crisis” which can look like homesickness, of school stress. This “crisis” is followed by a general up-swing back to a “honeymoon” feeling.

My student has returned from studying abroad but are not their usual self—what’s happening?

The “W” curve continues after the student returns, cycling through the honeymoon feeling upon return and a “crisis” (or low point) in adjusting back into life in the United States. The honeymoon feeling will return; adjustment is all part of the process. While many people are familiar with the concept of culture shock, fewer people are aware that there is a similar process when students return home.