During the summer study abroad staff are able to advise by appointment. Schedule here!

Current Parents FAQs

These responses have been prepared to address the most common queries that we receive from parents and guardians whose Tulane students plan to study abroad. The FAQs are a great starting point for parents and guardians as they begin to research the study abroad process at Tulane. The staff of the NTC Office of Study Abroad strongly recommends that parents and guardians also review the policies and procedures listed on the prospective students page with their student: Prospective Students Page

Please watch the video below to hear about the experience of Study Abroad alum Brianna Gershkowitz (UPCES, Prague, Fall 2017) and her parents!

Watch the Tulane Parents and Study Abroad Video

If you have further questions beyond this guide, please contact us at osa@tulane.edu or 504.865.5208.

Please note that these questions and answers have been prepared for students who are studying abroad through a program approved by the Office of Study Abroad. Therefore, the answers are not necessarily applicable to students participating on a program through the Freeman School of Business or a Non-Tulane Program.

Top Ten Most Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cost of study abroad?

Tulane students remain enrolled full-time while studying abroad and are charged full-time student tuition and the Tulane academic support fee. The academic support fee allows students to retain access to such resources as the Academic Advising Center, Success Coaching, Tulane Library, and more. The tuition cost for study abroad will not exceed the normal Tulane tuition paid each semester. All financial aid and scholarships, except housing, apply while the student is on a study abroad program. Students are charged room and board costs directly by the host institution; price varies based on the program and type of housing selected but is comparable to the cost of Tulane housing. Students who receive scholarships, grants and/or loans and plan to utilize them during study abroad should schedule an appointment with Tulane Financial Aid.

Tulane tuition is billed in the same manner during study abroad as during any other semester, and any balance owed to the university is due according to the schedule set forth by the Tulane Accounting Office. Students and parents can access this information through the Gibson online portal. Housing, board (if applicable) and other fees will be billed directly by the host program or university and due dates will vary. Students will receive information about these due dates after being accepted by the program. In some cases, housing will be paid directly to a landlord based on an agreement made in the host city.

Tulane scholarships, including the Dean’s Honor Scholarships, Presidential Scholarships and others, are applicable to the cost of tuition while abroad. Some grants and loans are also applicable. Because of the individual nature of Financial Aid and the specificity of each student’s award, the Office of Study Abroad strongly recommends that students who plan to use any financial aid while studying abroad make an appointment with their Financial Aid counselor.

For more information, see our Tuition section.

Will Tulane help my student obtain a student visa?

A visa is the host country’s endorsement that the student is allowed to enter and stay in the country for a specified period of time and for a specified reason. Tulane students are responsible for obtaining their own visa and the Office of Study Abroad does not advise on visas. Because the visa requirements vary by country and are subject to change, students should refer to the embassy website of the host country for the most up-to-date information about the visa application process, costs and requirements.

Please note, the student may have to send in a physical copy of their passport for an extended period of time to their host country's consulate. This can disrupt out-of-country travel plans if you have made them for summer or winter break. Please see full explanation here.

My student has a particular medical condition. How can we prepare for their study abroad experience?

Most medical conditions are completely manageable while abroad and simply require a bit of preparation and planning so that they do not interfere with the student’s experience. If a student has a pre-existing medical condition, they should speak with their physician in order to develop a plan for their time abroad. Here is a list of questions to discuss with a health care provider prior to studying abroad:

  • How do you import prescription medication into the host country or identify the most suitable alternative that is available in the host country?
  • Can the physician consult with you over the phone or email if necessary?
  • Should you find a local physician to help monitor the condition regularly while abroad?
  • Are there local issues that may exacerbate the condition? Excessive sun? Allergens?
  • Does the potential host city have the resources and infrastructure so that you may find the necessary care while there?

If the student receives accommodations from the Goldman Center for Student Accessibility at Tulane, we will work with the student to identify a suitable program that can accommodate their needs.

Our approved programs have procedures in place to ensure that students have access to adequate healthcare whether their medical condition is new or old. Furthermore, while it does not provide health insurance, Global Rescue can assist in finding local medical professionals (English-speaking, if necessary) and even offer medical advice and second opinion over the phone. The Office of Study Abroad recommends that students stay informed about health conditions and risks in their host country while taking necessary preventative measures to stay healthy. For more information, please see our Health and Safety subsection.

Where will my student be living abroad?

Students live in a variety of locations and accommodations. Whether an apartment, homestay, or dorm, the housing will vary by program. Students are likely to have a short commute if they live in a populous city (30 minutes is average) that they may do via public transit, walking, or biking. Students should be flexible in their housing choices, and students should make their housing choices according to their needs and goals first, before their desire to live with their peers. The more parameters a student adds to their housing choices, the more likely they will have to live further away to accommodate all their needs. For more information, please see our Housing subsection.

Is study abroad safe?

The safety of Tulane students is an integral part of the mission of the Office of Study Abroad. Tulane takes great care to select and continuously monitor the programs in our portfolio, using such resources as the U.S. State Department, Global Rescue (Tulane's Traveler's Assistant Program), the Global Rescue Traveler’s Assistance Program, various news outlets and the Tulane Office of Insurance and Risk Management. During the pre-departure orientation programming, OSA staff advises students on how to take responsibility for their safety while abroad by using these same resources to stay informed of the general security status of the host country, aware of their specific surroundings and attuned to situations that have the potential to be unsafe.

The Office of Study Abroad works closely with other offices on campus and with host staff abroad to act quickly and monitor carefully in the event of an emergency abroad. Every student registered with Global Rescue, which provides medical, personal, travel and security advice and assistance. In the case of an emergency, Global Rescue may be contracted to provide emergency medical care or evacuation and security assistance, which includes evacuation in the event that it is determined that a student security is threatened by any political instability or civil unrest.

All students are registered for the Global Rescue program, and instructed to download the Global Rescue app which provides up-to-date information about travel security conditions in locations around the world, as well as easy access to emergency notification and check-in options. Students are advised to pay close attention to unfamiliar surroundings, keep others informed of their plans and schedules, and to avoid risky behavior that may impair their awareness and ability to protect themselves. Just as students have access to a support system while in New Orleans, they will have access to staff in their host country who can assist them if necessary.

Why do I have to book with World Travel?

World Travel enhances Tulane’s duty of care over students studying abroad. For example, when COVID hit we had a lot of students stranded, World Travel was able to help bring them back. Additionally, if there is a flight disruption and the airline cancels your student’s flight, World Travel is able to work with the airline directly to rebook or book them into a hotel for the night. If you book on your own, you are also on your own for emergencies, and you also cannot receive any financial assistance from Tulane for emergency rebooking. They also have direct corporate relationships with airlines, which helps move things forward a lot faster than one individual. You can easily change tickets in the event things go south (another pandemic, war in Ukraine, etc.). Concur blocks all tickets that are non-refundable and non-changeable. They’re also very adept at getting refunds or travel credits back from airlines. Often when booking with points, airlines can be reluctant to refund the points.

Students can book their own flights or enlist the help of a travel agent. If this is your student’s first time booking a flight for themselves, encourage them to use the travel agent. It’s $19 but they will assist your student in finding a flight that works. They can email them directly here: WorldTravel@wave.tulane.edu, give them flight specifics you want, and they’ll help find flights. Most of the Study Abroad Advisors choose to work with the agent.

Should your student want to extend their stay, or have to come home early for health reasons, having a flight that is refundable or changeable provides peace of mind for everyone involved.

What is the deadline for applying?

In most cases, there will always be two applications for studying abroad. One application is internal to Tulane, and the deadline is a fixed deadline the semester before departure. Usually, the Fall Abroad deadline is in February the semester before; Spring Abroad is due in September, and Summer Abroad is due in March. We do not do rolling admissions, and we do not accept late applications.

Students will also have to submit an external application directly to their host program or university once they have been Tulane approved. These deadlines are usually after the Tulane deadline, but not always. It is the student's responsibility to take note of the external application deadline and adhere to it. For more information, please see our Applying and Eligibility subsection.

How do I contact on-site program staff?

Your student has likely been given a copy of this information, and you can ask them for it. Otherwise, starting with the website for your student’s program is the first step. Sometimes, this information isn’t public facing.

Your student should also be the one doing the first step of outreach to onsite staff for day-to-day issues, and you should empower them to feel confident in doing the first leg of outreach. It is also easier for your students to contact their on-site staff in terms of time difference.

Sometimes, due to local laws within the host country, program staff will not be able to talk to you about issues that concern your student.

Will study abroad disrupt their academic progression?

Students who study on an approved Tulane program will earn elective credit for all courses taken abroad, as long as Tulane offers a matching discipline. Therefore, students continue to earn credit that will count towards the total number of hours they need to obtain in order to graduate. By working closely with advisers in the Office of Study Abroad, the Academic Advising Center and their major or minor departments, students can ensure that they will continue to make meaningful progress towards their degrees and therefore graduate on schedule




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The Why’s of Study Abroad

Why should my student study abroad?

Studying abroad is one of the greatest gifts you can give your student. For students going into their Junior year, graduation is right around the corner – and so is adulthood. Study abroad gives students a sense of independence and confidence that they can and will use once they graduate.

They will also gain hard and soft skills – intercultural communication, academic enrichment, maybe a new or renewed passion for a language, an interest in global affairs, a world-wide network, and more. They will develop personally and professionally in a very short amount of time. In an increasingly globally connected world, having the skills to navigate different cultures is something that gives a competitive edge.

Your student should not study abroad for a stress-free semester of travel or for a “break” from Tulane. If that is your student’s goal, then encourage them to travel internationally– but not to study abroad. It will be less expensive, They can do it whenever their schedule allows, and they won’t have to study at all. However, they will lose out on an opportunity that is available to study abroad students: studying alongside students from around the world in a way that combines their academic and real-life experiences. It is, no doubt, more challenging to study abroad than to take a vacation, and the two should not be compared. However, the rewards your student will gain from study abroad are worth the challenges.

What are NTC’s goals for study abroad?

OSA pursues the mission of assisting students in articulating and achieving their academic, personal, and professional goals while abroad. We believe that international education is an essential component of the undergraduate experience and work to assist all students in accessing study abroad opportunities during the summer, semester, and academic year. We hold that the pursuit of education abroad will allow our students to acquire region and country-specific knowledge, empathize with differing ways of being in the world, and apply their newfound intercultural competency to their future endeavors.

Encourage your student to make an appointment with a study abroad advisor to help them explore their personal goals for study abroad. Here are some of our study abroad advisors' goals:

  • My goals are with the returned students. The maturity jump I see from the Underclassman from our beginning conversation to the confident and adaptable Upperclassman when they return is amazing each time. I also love how much they learn about America and its culture once they have something else to compare it with.
  • To learn to sit with feelings of discomfort while navigating the unfamiliar and consider (perhaps for the first time) that there are different ways of being in the world no more correct than our own.
  • I hope students are able to challenge themselves through unfamiliar cultural contexts, looking within to analyze their own identities as well as gain new perspectives on ways of living beyond their own culture and experience. I hope they are able to sit with uncertainty and gain new skills to grapple with challenges of studying abroad, as these skills are immensely helpful later on in life. Lastly, I hope they can approach each new day and person they meet with an open heart and mind, as even the smallest moments of connection can be lifechanging.
  • Learning to entertain new ideas and ways of being in the world without having to adopt them. How to make friends when commonalities aren't readily apparent. How to step out of the comfort zone: being comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Parent’s Roles in Supporting Students

What is my role?

Your role is to be the foundation of support for your student’s growth. Your student is about to embark on a life changing experience, and it is okay to feel nervous, scared, or concerned for them. You have been an active participant in their whole lives and do not need to change that, but it is different when they are abroad.

Study abroad becomes one of the last contained “trial runs” for real life where students have many layers of safety nets and help as they launch themselves forward. Think back to dropping them off Freshmen year, and how much they have grown since then. Dropping them off at the airport will feel similar, as will the growth you see as you’re picking them up once they’re heading back home, excitedly telling you all about their new adventures.

One of the most powerful things you can do is encourage them to adapt a Growth Mindset instead of a Fixed Mindset. Fixed Mindsets often avoid challenges, believe their abilities are innately set as they already are, and give up easily. Growth Mindsets enjoy persevering through a challenge, the effort involved in success, and learning new skills and abilities. Studying abroad innately helps them move towards a Growth Mindset, but you can help in those smaller moments by using “yet” language. Maybe you already do this – or do something similar – maybe you don’t. Regardless, this is a good time to bring it to your arsenal of support skills.

Try to fight the urge to call or email on behalf of your student when it is a problem your student can resolve on their own. This way, you are empowering your student to take charge of their experience and further their independence. It can help to ask your student guiding questions and affirm their feelings when they go through something frustrating or have a setback. This way, you are helping them think through what they can do when things go wrong and you are taking an active role in their education and growth. Some examples:

If you would like to read more, please see Mindset by Carol Dweck, Ph.D (not an affiliate link) which is a book surrounding Growth Mindset. This book has heavily influenced this parents’ guide.

You should also encourage your student to unplug from their phones and social media. This can be hard, but enormously beneficial for their mental health and avoiding comparisons with their peers or escaping their current reality. Taking time off from social media can drastically improve mental health and also encourage them to connect more deeply with their host country.

How can they adapt to differences in culture?

Culture shock is near-universal to all study abroad experiences and is ongoing throughout the semester, summer, or year. After the initial euphoria of arrival begins to wear off, students often begin to feel frustrated with their host country and more acutely aware of the differences between here and there. Maybe they make a faux pas on public transit and are embarrassed. Maybe they’re very tired of speaking their host language. Maybe they’re just homesick.

Knowing that your student will go through culture shock, you can prepare before they go by thinking of ways to encourage their Growth Mindset and coping mechanisms. You know your student best, but here are some suggestions:

Learn as much as possible about their host country before they arrive there. While you won’t be there with them, having some background knowledge of their host country will allow you to talk to them more deeply about their experiences.

Learn about the Stages of Culture Shock ahead of time so you will be able to recognize when your student is in different stages. One of the most important parts is reminding your student that the hardest parts will pass with time, even if it doesn’t feel that way to them. They will adapt, they will learn flexibility, and they will learn deeply about their host culture as they begin to get used to it. Moving to New Orleans may have been a culture shock if they are from a different part of the country – they have adapted before, are adapting now, and will adapt again in the future.

Purchase them a journal – writing down when the moments are hard and when they are wrestling with differences can encourage them to reflect on themselves and their host culture. It will be a souvenir they treasure when they return.

Encourage them to find moments of self-care. It can be many different things and will depend on what your student finds healing. Maybe a walk in a new park, trying a new local snack food, mindfulness meditation, spiritual or religious worship, a hobby, or something else entirely. Learning to rely on themselves, and take care of themselves, is a skill they will carry for the rest of their lives – but you can inspire them to think about how they can localize their self-care, which may remind them about why they picked their host country in the first place!

Elena (Peer Advisor) on cultural adaptation: “I think it was important to learn how to adjust my expectations, and realize I wasn’t going to get the same reaction/response/timeliness as I do in the US and learn how to adjust to their cultural system instead of having them adjust to mine. Which made everything better!”



Eligibility and Applying for Study Abroad

What does the application process for study abroad entail?

Once students have selected their desired program, they must complete an online application through Tulane by the internal OSA deadline. The study abroad deadline varies from semester to semester and can be found by navigating to the brochure of the student's selected program. In general deadlines occur as follows: Fall and Academic Year (late February, early March), Spring (September), Summer (March).

The application includes an essay, a proposed course of study, faculty recommendations, and a record of prior, graded coursework. Within three weeks of the application deadline, students receive a decision from the NTC Office of Study Abroad via email. Following Tulane approval to study abroad, most students also need to apply to and receive admission from their host university or program directly. This external program application can be found on the website of the program provider or host university--students can navigate to their program's website using the "Helpful Links" tab on the Tulane program brochure.

After receiving notice of admission through Tulane, students are required to participate in a mandatory pre-departure orientation session which covers topics such as finances, course registration and credit transfer, travel logistics, and health and safety abroad.

How does my student determine eligibilty?

At the time of application and in the semester prior to the start of the program, all applicants should be in good academic and disciplinary standing, meet the minimum Tulane and program requirements, including minimum Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA), applicable language proficiency and prior coursework, full-time status and adequate progress towards graduation. Students should also have completed their first year writing, Tier-1 service, and TIDES courses. Students with academic or disciplinary holds at the time of application or that will extend into the semester abroad should reach out to a Study Abroad Advisor directly and consult our Academic and Disciplinary Policies page. Some programs have additional, specific eligibility requirements which are listed on their individual program page.

What is the GPA requirement for study abroad?

As of Fall 2022, there is no GPA requirement to study abroad at Tulane. However, study abroad programs and universities may institute their own GPA requirements. Check "Eligibility" and "Academics" sections on program pages when researching study abroad programs to ensure your student meets the requirements for their chosen program.

How can I find dates for my student's study abroad program?

Dates will vary by program and are set by the program provider or host university, not by Tulane or the Office of Study Abroad. Some programs may begin or end at significantly different times than Tulane. Program dates are available on the individual program page on the Office of Study Abroad website. Students should plan to be at their study abroad location no later than the date listed on the program website and should plan to depart no earlier than the date listed on the program website. Students must adhere to all host program rules and regulation and be present for all regularly scheduled exams before departing the host location.


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Preparing Students for Study Abroad: Travel, Visas, Tuition

I would like to book flights using points/outside of World Travel. Can I do this?

Tulane requires that all Tulane-related travel be booked through World Travel. There are several advantages to booking through World Travel.

World Travel enhances Tulane’s duty of care over students studying abroad. For example, when COVID hit we had a lot of students stranded, World Travel was able to help bring them back. Additionally, if there is a flight disruption and the airline cancels your student’s flight, World Travel is able to work with the airline directly to rebook or book them into a hotel for the night. If you book on your own, you are also on your own for emergencies, and you also cannot receive any financial assistance from Tulane for emergency rebooking. They also have direct corporate relationships with airlines, which helps move things forward a lot faster than one individual. You can easily change tickets in the event things go south (another pandemic, war in Ukraine, etc.). Concur blocks all tickets that are non-refundable and non-changeable. They’re also very adept at getting refunds or travel credits back from airlines. Often when booking with points, airlines can be reluctant to refund the points.

Students can book their own flights or enlist the help of a travel agent. If this is your student’s first time booking a flight for themselves, encourage them to use the travel agent. It’s $19 but they will assist your student in finding a flight that works. They can email them directly here: WorldTravel@wave.tulane.edu, give them flight specifics you want, and they’ll help find flights. Most of the Study Abroad Advisors choose to work with the agent.

Should your student want to extend their stay, or have to come home early for health reasons, having a flight that is refundable or changeable provides peace of mind for everyone involved.

Can Tulane help my student apply for a visa?

No. While our advisors are highly trained on intercultural communication, motivational interviewing, and cultural-specific knowledge of different regions, they are not trained on the specific rules of immigration and visas for all the countries in our portfolio.

Some program providers offer batch visa services for an additional fee, and we strongly recommend using this service. Your student will send in their passport and all necessary documents to the program provider, and they will meet with the consulate on behalf of the student. These services often have strict deadlines, and if your student misses them, there will not be another chance to submit.

If your student either wants to, or must, do an individual visa appointment at a consulate, it is their responsibility to come prepared with all the necessary documentation to the appointment and proxies are not allowed for individual appointments. Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do if they arrive to their appointment and have missing documents, and they may have to rebook their appointment. Appointments can be extremely limited, depending on the consulate and time of year, and they may not be able to get another appointment at all. You can help by checking their documents prior to their appointment for accuracy.

We do not have any institutional or unofficial contacts at any consulates, embassies, or passport renewal offices.

The extent of what our office can do is write a letter on official letterhead explaining that the student will return to Tulane after their program. If your student needs this, we are happy to provide.

What if my student is unable to get a visa for their program?
The majority of students, if they follow directions, will obtain a student visa. In the event they do not get a visa, their enrollment in the program may be jeopardized. If they need to defer their semester abroad, they can contact their study abroad advisor to begin the process.
Can I still book a summer vacation before my student goes abroad in the fall? Or winter vacation before spring?

It depends. To study abroad for a semester or year, students need to apply for a student visa. This involves surrendering their ORIGINAL PASSPORT to the host country's consulate for processing. Many common study abroad destinations such as Spain, Italy, and France have longer visa processing times (several months) that require students to apply well in advance of their departure--during this time they will not have access to their passport and cannot travel internationally. For example, if you apply for a Spanish visa in May you might not get your passport back in the mail until July or August. Processing times and requirements vary depending on the host country, time of year, and from where in the U.S. you apply.

Some host countries or regional visa offices may also require the applicant (student) to appear at their visa appointment IN PERSON (France for example). If you are a U.S. citizen, you would appear at a processing center within the U.S. The date of the in person visa appointment may also prevent the student from traveling internationally in the summer or winter before they go abroad. If an in person appointment is required, a parent or other proxy cannot go in place of the student.

Not sure if your travel plans will impact semester study abroad? Here's what you can your student do:

  • Do some research on visa application requirements and processing times on the website of the host country's consulate. While students cannot begin applying for a visa until they have been accepted to their program, most consulate websites have "visa wizard" tools that allow you to input citizenship, length of stay, and purpose of travel to see what documents you will need and how to apply.
  • Renew your student’s passport or apply for a passport EARLY. Normal U.S. passport processing currently takes 8-11 weeks. Students must have a valid passport to apply for a student visa. Passports should be valid up to 6 months after the program end date.
  • Make an appointment with an NTC Office of Study Abroad Advisor. Remember, our office DOES NOT advise on visa applications or requirements, however we can help answer general questions about where to find information on student visas for your home country or help explain how summer travel and semester study abroad might interact.
Will there be airport pickup for my student? Will the program arrange a flight as a group?

It will be program to program dependent. On some programs, there are pre-arranged pick-up times where on-site staff or a shuttle will meet them. On others, students are given a guide for how to get to the study center or dorm. If your student arrives earlier than the program start date, it is very unlikely there will be an additional trip to meet them at the airport.

Students on the same program do not typically fly together to their study abroad destination. While some short-term programs may arrange travel as a group with program staff in attendance, students will be traveling independently to their host country on the vast majority of our summer, semester, and yearlong programs. If your student needs assistance navigating an airport, have them read through our airport guide.

My student did not get into ICADE in Madrid! What can they do?

Our office is separate from Freeman Study Abroad, which is for business school students. Please see their corresponding Parent Guide. If your student is a business major pursuing business credit abroad, they are going through Freeman’s office. If you are not sure which office your student is going through, please ask your student.

All Freeman programs are exchange partnerships with business schools around the world that have been vetted by Freeman and transfer of credit is closely approved and guaranteed (as long as students enroll in approved courses). The number of spaces at each is dependent upon the number of students that our partners send. Please contact freemanabroad@tulane.edu for further questions about Freeman programs.

What should they pack?

Most students are given a packing list by their host program or university. The thing we hear most frequently is that students really regret overpacking! There will be plenty of time for going shopping for new clothes or souvenirs, so encourage them leave room for both.

Home school tuition – what am I really paying for?

The home school tuition model is designed with the intent of fostering equitable access in international education at Tulane. In order to receive federal financial aid while abroad, students must demonstrate enrollment at a U.S. institution eligible to participate in Federal Student Aid (FSA) programs. Demonstrated enrollment at Tulane is also required in order for students to receive Louisiana state aid such as TOPS or institutional scholarships and grants. As students remain enrolled at Tulane while abroad, they are charged Tulane tuition and fees and the academic support fee at the full-time student rate. Housing, insurance, and personal expenses such as flights, phone plans, etc. Are paid by the student to their program or independently. Tulane tuition while abroad is inclusive of the following:

  • Educational costs and transcript fees
  • Registration in Global Rescue
  • NTC OSA advising pre, during, and post study abroad
  • Continued access to remote campus services such as the Howard Tilton Library, Success Coaching, Tutoring, etc.
Will there be other Tulane students there?

Potentially! With over 150+ programs in our portfolio, Tulane students go all over the world and engage in a variety of programs. Some programs have more Tulane students than others.

Many of the programs or universities we work with have students enroll from all over the United States or the world. This is a wonderful thing for your student – they get a chance to network and make friends with other like-minded students who value global education.

In conjunction with the Pre-Departure Conference, we host regional meetups with all students going to that particular region. If your student is worried about not knowing anyone, encourage them to make a group chat with other students.

What is the OSA FERPA waiver?

When your student applied to study abroad in our office, they were given the option to sign a FERPA waiver that would only apply within the confines of our office. Under Federal law, we are prevented from discussing details of your student’s educational records with you unless the student has signed this release with us.

This can include information such as which specific program your student is on, the status of their applications, the courses they are taking while abroad, or the contents of meetings, emails, or phone calls the student has had with their Study Abroad Advisor.

This waiver will only apply within our office and does not extend to the host programs or universities. Depending on local laws, they may be prohibited from speaking directly to you entirely. For example, if you were CC’d on an email by your student, the host institution will remove you from the email and respond only to the student. The OSA FERPA waiver only applies domestically and within our office, and we cannot interfere with the laws of other nations.

If you are listed as the emergency contact, in health and safety emergencies only, Tulane will reach out to you directly.

If you have additional questions about FERPA, please see Tulane’s FERPA Policy.

Does Tulane prepare my student in any way? They need more support navigating this process.

Every semester we run a Pre-Departure Conference that is mandatory for students. During the conference, they are given general information about their next steps. They can also sign up for identity specific mini-sessions that will go more in depth if they have concerns about how their identity will impact their abroad experience.

We also send a very lengthy acceptance email to all admitted students. When in doubt of how to proceed, students should reference our acceptance letter and you should encourage them to double-check it if they’re lost. If you are concerned with their ability to follow all the steps, they can forward the email to you. We do not publish the letter outwardly.

They can also meet with their Study Abroad Advisor as frequently as they’d like.


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Health and Safety Abroad

Is there an emergency phone for Tulane’s OSA office?

No. Our office is open from 8:30 to 5PM Central Time. For after hours emergencies, please call TUPD at 504-865-5911. This will activate our emergency protocol phone tree. All non-emergencies should wait until business hours.

What is an emergency?

What may feel like a doable hurdle at home may seem much more catastrophic when your student is abroad. If your student was on Tulane’s campus and called you about the issue, would you call TUPD? Encourage your student to reach out to on-site program staff if they are able – on-site staff are able to respond immediately to safety concerns.

If your student is incapacitated and unable to contact on-site staff, please call TUPD to activate our emergency response.

Broken limbs, appendicitis, sexual assault, or any other issue that would require an emergency visit to the hospital, are all examples of after-hours emergency calls we have responded to. If the student is in immediate danger, please give us a call as well.

I am afraid for my student’s general safety.

Your student must enroll in STEP, which is a U.S. State Department program that alerts nearby Embassies and Consulates that there is a U.S. citizen or national in a foreign country. As a parent, you can also enroll in STEP to receive health and safety updates about your student’s host country.

You can also find a plethora of information about their host country on the State Department’s website. They also have focused guides ranging from study abroad students, LGBTQIA+ travelers, and women travelers.

All students are also enrolled automatically in Global Rescue. Global Rescue will personally remove students when catastrophic events occur, such as civil unrest, natural disasters, or extreme medical emergencies.

What do I need to do for health insurance abroad?

Students are required to have both domestic and international insurance while abroad. Some programs require specific health insurance programs – whether because they know it works in country, or as a requirement of the student’s visa. Please see our Health and Safety page for more information.

My student has a disability. How can they navigate going abroad?

Prior to going, your student should contact their study abroad advisor as soon as possible. Students with Goldman Center accommodations should send a copy of their official accommodations letter to the NTC Office of Study Abroad and their program provider or host university immediately upon acceptance or during the initial application process.

Usually, accommodations can be implemented on site as long as they are reported to the program or host university prior to departure. Even if your student does not plan on using accommodations, they should still send in their letter just in case. If they wait until they are already on-site to ask for approved accommodations to be implemented, it may no longer be possible depending on the program or host country. If they have concerns related to accommodations abroad, they can always make an appointment with an OSA advisor.

Disability is, ultimately, defined differently in different cultures. Each country has its own laws surrounding physical, mental, sensory or intellectual disability. Some places have similar definitions to the United States, and some have very different definitions. The built environment and infrastructure may be very different than the United States; ideas of academic accommodations may be very different. Your student should have this conversation early with their Study Abroad Advisor.

My student needs daily medication. Can they bring it abroad?

Your student will likely have to meet with their doctor to obtain a refill for multiple months. The medications should not leave their original packaging, and your student should travel with a copy of their prescription. The CDC’s page on traveling with medications is a very thorough starting point.

Some countries have rules that ban importing certain medications. You should check the laws of their host country to see if they are able to import their medication. Some, like birth control, are not as tightly regulated as medication for ADHD or pain management. Failure to comply with the laws of the host country may mean that the medication is seized upon arrival.

Our office does not advise on the legalities of importing medication into different countries beyond reminding students to thoroughly research the laws.

Can my student take a service animal abroad?

Potentially, but highly dependent. Students should contact their Study Abroad Advisor as soon as possible to explore the option. Please see this resource tree from Mobility International USA and this guide from the U.S. Department of Transportation about the considerations needed when planning to bring a service animal. Some initial things to consider would be:

  • Does the animal need additional vaccinations, and will they have to quarantine upon arrival to the host country?
  • Is the animal in good health and able to travel?
  • Is the country one where service animals are recognized as disability tools?
  • Will the animal be able to stay in the required housing accommodations?
What about their pet?

It is highly discouraged to bring a non-service animal on study abroad. The student should make domestic arrangements for their companion for when they are abroad. The stress of traveling for the animal is not fair to them and it will also create an additional burden to your student as they acclimate to their host country.

What are the most common safety complaints OSA receives?

The most common safety complaints are pickpocketing, street harassment, air quality, heat exhaustion, and stomach issues in areas with untreated water.

The vast majority of students do not report any safety concerns, and on-site staff are quick to help the student when they arise. For example, if a phone was pickpocketed, local staff may accompany the student to the police station and help them find a flip phone until they can replace their cell phone.

When comparing crime and safety at home and abroad, it is often scarier when things happen abroad because the student is unfamiliar with their host country and its rules. Walking alone after dark or leaving personal items unattended in a public space for example while potentially dangerous in some cities may be considered a non-issue in others. Numbeo has a useful Quality of Life comparison tool that can measure safety between cities. Here is New Orleans vs. Copenhagen as an example. Numbeo has more in-depth crime analyses of countries and cities as well.

My child’s mental health is slipping. What can I do?

First, know that study abroad is hard on the most mentally tough student out there, and it is normal to struggle during it. Confirm that your student is not going through the stages of culture shock, which can mimic more serious mental health illnesses. Feeling irritable, depressed, sleeping for longer/shorter than normal, wanting to leave, being anxious or disappointed are all very common feelings that overlap between culture shock and more serious mental health issues.

If you identify that it is culture shock, encourage them to make an appointment with their study abroad advisor. All advisors have studied abroad before and know exactly the feelings the student is going through and can help identify strategies for how to get through the worst of it. You can also use the knowledge you now have about culture shock and immersion to help them as well.

If you identify it is a more serious issue, you should encourage your student to seek out professional help from a licensed therapist. Your student should reach out to on-site staff to ask how they can access therapy. Many program providers and host universities have local or remote therapists they can refer students to. If this ask feels insurmountable to your student, they can also contact their study abroad advisor to get the ball rolling. Your student can also contact CAPS to discuss telehealth counseling options.

If the issue has escalated to the point a student must return early from study abroad, they should contact their NTC Academic Advisor, Study Abroad Advisor, and on-site program staff to discuss the steps for a medical withdrawal. The holistic health of students is of Tulane’s utmost concern.

There may be financial penalties for withdrawing early from the program. Non-refundable deposits and fees, and housing costs may still be billed to the student if they withdraw.


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Supporting my Student While they Are Abroad: Cultural Adjustment and Staying in Touch

How can I find the contact information for my child’s program staff?

Your student has likely been given a copy of this information, and you can ask them for it. Otherwise, starting with the website for your student’s program is the first step. Sometimes, this information isn’t public facing.

Your student should also be the one doing the first step of outreach to onsite staff for day-to-day issues, and you should empower them to feel confident in doing the first leg of outreach. It is also easier for your students to contact their on-site staff in terms of time difference.

Sometimes, due to local laws within the host country, program staff will not be able to talk to you about issues that concern your student.

My student is being impacted by political unrest/labor organizing. They’re really annoyed – what can I do?

While the United States has labor unions, they are not as prolific as they can be in other countries. Sometimes, host university staff or faculty may go on strike while your student is there. While this can be frustrating in terms of response times or administrative flow, encourage your student to look at labor action from an observational, academic standpoint as well as a personal growth standpoint – how do they face uncertainty?

OSA is alerted when host universities strike, and we can discuss the frustrating aspects with your student, but we are unable to interfere with their labor goals.

Do not encourage your student to attend any political demonstrations – because they do not know the ins/outs of politics in their host country, they should not participate. Instead, encourage them to find local news sources about demonstrations

How often do students talk to their parents when they’re abroad?

It varies! How often do you talk to them now? Expect a similar, or lesser, amount. Like we said before, they will often call you when they are at their low points, which is only natural – you are their source of comfort! What matters more is paying attention to sudden or drastic changes in communication frequency from your norm– are you a daily texter and they’ve gone silent for a week? Or do you not talk that frequently and suddenly they are calling every day? Both can be signs of deeper mental health concerns.

Here’s two of our Peer Advisors’ experiences:

Justin: I talked to them once every couple of weeks. I made a shared photo album so I could put stuff in it so they could see what I was doing. We don’t always talk that much anyway, and with the time difference there was only a little bit of time that it would work, so they’d always try to call me but I didn’t want to pay for the international call! WhatsApp or Facetime Audio would take up less data than video but wouldn’t be an international call, so we used that a lot.

Elena: I talked to my parents a couple times a month. I talked to them a lot more at the beginning, which was helpful, but by the end I was caught up in my life there. I think it was just nice to talk to people who knew me when I was meeting people I had never met before. When I had problems, I solved it. I was there, you know? I was far away. I never wanted my mom to call anyone for me.

What is the best way of talking to my student?

Many students will elect to purchase a local SIM card for their phones while abroad so they have a local number and data. Using your US-based international phone plan can be much more expensive compared to purchasing a local SIM card and plan. This does require the phone to be unlocked, so contact your service provider to do so. Using WIFI based calling services such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or Facetime is also an easy way to contact your student.

How can my child access money abroad?

Prior to arrival, your student should research the culture surrounding money in their destination. Some countries predominantly use cash, and some are entirely cashless and require a chip or tap card. In cash-based countries, students often withdraw from an ATM in for a small fee and the currency will be converted. You or your student should check if there are international transaction fees for the credit card they plan on using.

Some money transfer apps will not work in-country, such as Venmo, but electronic transferring between accounts will usually work. Check with your bank for details on how to do this. Some money transferring apps, like CashApp or Zelle, will work. It will depend on the country.

How will my student eat?

Your student will likely eat extremely well and lament coming back to Tulane! What students eat daily will depend on their housing accommodations. If your student lives with a host family, they will likely be given two or three meals a day of homecooked food. Some students eat out for every meal at local restaurants, street food stands, or dining halls. Some students will have access to kitchens and cook for themselves, which is great practice for when they live off-campus.

How do I send things to my student abroad?

Your student should be able to provide you with either their physical address abroad or the address of their program’s study center where packages can be delivered. If your student does not know their mailing address abroad, they should reach out to their program provider directly. OSA staff does not have individual address information on file.

We do not recommend sending large items, perishable goods, or medication abroad via mail. Medication is likely to be stopped and destroyed when passing through customs. Also remember that import duties or customs fees may be need to be paid by the recipient on delivery.

Can my student go part time while there? They’re having a difficult time adjusting.

Students must meet full-time enrollment requirements of Tulane University, which is 12 credit hours. There is also an additional reason – host countries may require students to maintain full time enrollment to keep their student visa. Tulane is not able to intervene in visa issues or if a student is deported for violating the terms of their visa.

However, adjusting academically is hard at first, especially if they are enrolling in a program with a culturally different educational style than they are used to here on Tulane’s campus. Remind them that this is part of the process and something they have done before in life as well – adjusting to Tulane out of high school may have been a large jump in difficulty.

There are also a number of resources still available to the student. As they are enrolled full time at Tulane, they can use domestic resources available to them such as the Success Center or Tutoring Center. They will also have resources available to them through their host university or program provider, and they should reach to their on-site staff for these connections.

Finally, remind them that this is a hard process and it’s okay to struggle at times, and that is why none of their grades will impact their GPA.

When should I intervene?

Take a second to assess: what does my student really need, and is it something I can encourage them to find on their own? You will always be a resource for them, but you should enter this abroad experience thinking of your intervention as a “Break Glass in Case of Extreme Emergencies” role.

For example, if your student is trying to schedule a weekend trip but is confused on how to book a hotel, walk them through your thought process of how you pick hotels (Cost? Ratings? Distance from downtown?) and encourage them to make their own decision, instead of booking for them.

  • Are they confused about credit transfer? Ask them who it is they can talk to about it (hint: their Study Abroad Advisor).
  • Does your student have an ear infection? Encourage them to seek out local doctors on their own while expressing sympathy. While you could call our office and ask us to ask the program to ask the student how they’re doing, this increases the amount of time your student is sick, compared to if your student reached out on their own.
  • Is your student severely depressed or ill to the point they cannot reach out on their own? This is the type of emergency where you should intervene.
  • Take some time to sit with them and reflect on the different support structures in place. Often times, students feel like they are very alone, when in reality there are so many people waiting to help, and the student just needs someone to guide them there.

Miranda (Peer Advisor): All the resources a student needs are there, and the best thing you can do is to send them back to the program. They have people who speak the language, know the healthcare system, etc. What are you going to do that on the ground staff can’t do? No offense. The program has been doing this forever and they know what’s up.

There are also hundreds of thousands of guides, articles, academic studies and research about specifically study abroad. Taking some time now, before they go, to research the field will help you prepare and find resources that resonate with your student.

Care.Tulane.Edu has a large variety of support guides for students on the 8 aspects of holistic health.

When I studied abroad, I had a much better time! Why does it seem like my student is having a worse time than I did?

There are so many differences now in study abroad than there used to be. Think back to the things you really loved about your study abroad experience – but also think about the bad parts of your experience as well. Most likely, there were bad points, but over time and with perspective the good outweighed the bad.

Another aspect is how much more interconnected the world is now. It’s much easier for your student to connect with their peers and you – which also means it’s much easier for them to compare experiences with their peers or over-communicate when things are at their low point. Remind them that their peers are oftentimes presenting a version of themselves on social media that is very different than reality and are likely struggling with the same feelings of culture shock and not showing it.

We often hear from parents that their student is having a horrible time, but when we reach out to the student, they’re fine and were having a singularly bad day and are now having a lovely time exploring a museum. Consider when you studied abroad – maybe you sent your parents letters, had a once-a-week scheduled phone call, or got emails printed for you sporadically by your host university. Likely, those daily snapshots of bad days did not make it into the weekly (or monthly) communication the same way they would if you could talk daily.

How much money will my student be spending?

This will depend on the cost of living of their host country along with their personal spending habits. Numbeo has a comparative cost of living calculator and researching prior to arrival (or deciding on a program) can help students budget. There are some cities with a much higher cost of living compared to New Orleans; some where it’s drastically lower.

Students should honestly assess their current spending habits – do they purchase coffee daily or make it at home? How often do they eat out? Do they currently spend a lot of money on experiences or new things?

Learning to budget is an important life skill. If this is their first time making a budget, consider helping them define what their spending priorities are, and show them how you personally make a monthly budget.

Miranda (Peer Advisor): I didn’t pay that much because I lived with a host family and when I did it was for my own things – like if I was craving chocolate! My host mom bought me food and school supplies. Budgeting for travels on weekends were my biggest expense! Airbnb, hostel, transportation, food… it’s all on you. How many people am I going with? Where? How do I get there? Can we share an AirBnb? Accounting for that was the biggest thing I had never done before.

I haven’t heard from my child lately and I’m worried. Can you contact them for me?

If your student has dropped communication outside of the norm, OSA can contact your student and encourage them to reach out to you. If they have not signed the OSA FERPA waiver, we cannot call you back to confirm their status.


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I am not satisfied with my child’s housing! What are next steps?

Housing varies around the world in terms of amenities, commute, and standards. For example, the United States, culturally, has much more air conditioning than other countries. Especially in Europe, the housing market is incredibly tight for residents – and even more so for short-term residents, such as study abroad students. Most of the time, study abroad students are living in both nicer and closer housing than local students, or even full-time staff at their host institutions. Many domestic students in Amsterdam live in Rotterdam, the next city over. Staff in Tokyo often have to commute two hours on public transit in rush hour.

Going back to encouraging your student’s growth mindset, encourage them to think of their housing as part of the process of studying abroad and overcoming challenges. For example, if they have a long commute, rather than only validating that it is annoying to commute longer than they normally do at Tulane, encourage them to think about what they can learn from the process. Is public transit more easily accessible? How far away do their host country classmates live? How can this help influence their choices about where they live after graduation?

Also encourage them to avoid comparisons between housing they are in and what their peers are in, whether those peers are in the same program or a different one. Just like off-campus housing in New Orleans, it varies, and learning to adapt is a key component of study abroad and post-grad life.

What if they’re in a home stay?

Staying in a homestay is one of the most rewarding experiences a student can do on study abroad. Every family situation is different, but we most commonly see women whose children have moved out, and they miss having someone around. Sometimes, students will be the only student in a homestay; sometimes there will be two students per homestay. Homestay families usually receive training before they begin hosting and many host families are long-standing hosts who return year after year because they love building relationships with their students.

It is, however, a relationship that goes both ways. We are more likely to hear complaints from homestay parents than from students. Homestay families can be upset if students don’t show up to the relationship or expect to be treated like a customer instead of a member of the household.

What about independent housing?

Independent housing is discouraged for a variety of reasons. We usually see a spike in independent housing requests at the beginning of the semester – when students are often still getting their bearings, feeling lonely, and still adjusting. Encourage them to stick with it – often housing becomes a stand-in for dealing with the normal feelings of culture shock.

From the safety and quality perspective, Tulane has not verified or seen any independent housing or the neighborhood it is in, like we have for many of the dorms, flats, or homestays we have for our other programs. Going back to the housing shortage, independent housing may still be of similar or lesser quality than provided housing, with the additional layer of navigating local landlord/tenant laws and finding a short-term rental. Independent housing can also complicate the student visa process, as many countries require students to provide a local address in order to process their visa—having to provide an address several months prior to departure will likely mean signing a lease sight unseen. Finally, your student will lose the connection they have to other students on the program and the opportunity to bond with and be supported by their peers.

If your student is still adamant that they want to live in independent housing that is not part of the program, they must ask their study abroad advisor for the waiver that releases Tulane from all liability, as well as show documentation they have already tried to work with their program provider or host university to change housing. Some programs do not allow independent housing under any circumstance or have restrictions on who students can live with in independent housing. Tulane will always defer to the rules of the host university of program provider. Ultimately, this should be something the student is leading the charge on – after all, they are there!

Does Tulane have any resources or aid with New Orleans subletting?

OSA does not provide any assistance or endorse any particular method over another for finding off-campus housing. Housing and Residence Life has a guide to off-campus housing help .


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Returning back to the States

My student doesn’t want to come back! Can they stay later than their program end dates?

We’re so glad your student is having a wonderful time! Unfortunately, we usually see that the worst parts of culture shock are over at the end of a semester – of course they don’t want to come back – they’ve finally adapted to being there.

Miranda (Peer Advisor): Everyone I knew extended their stay or did an extra week of travel. I wish I could have and totally would have, but it didn’t work out. It’s this weird mix of “I’m ready to be back home” and “No, I want to maximize this experience!” I was talking to my friend about this as we were on the same flight back home, and it felt so abrupt. I was excited to see my parents!

If your student wants to stay, the first order of business is seeing if their student visa will allow them to do so. Some visas are very strict and only cover the program dates while others are more flexible.

Oftentimes, program or university provided housing only covers program dates and are non-negotiable. Where will your student stay?

How do grades transfer?

All courses take a minimum of three to four months to return and be posted on the transcript as general elective credit at the 5000 level. Letter grades will be posted but they will NOT impact GPA.

If your student wants major, minor, or NTC core credit they need to talk to their major, minor, or NTC advisor. Encourage them to keep all of their syllabi and coursework in case any of the advisors need it. If any of the advisors will not accept the course for specific credit towards their major, minor, or NTC core – they will still earn the credit hours from the class towards the 120 credit hours they need to graduate as a failsafe.

Most students (if they plan ahead and meet with their advisors before the program and plan a rough idea of courses that can count) will have zero issues transferring courses.

How can I help them adjust to being back in the U.S.?

Reverse culture shock is very, very real and can oftentimes be even harder than going to their host country. They expect that things will all fall back into place – the things they’ve always known and are familiar with – but now they have a new lens they’re using to see, and that adjustment can be very hard.

Try to really ask them about their experience and reminisce on it together. Look through photo albums, ask them what they’ve learned about themselves and their host country, and if you’re Justin the Peer Advisor, cook recipes from their host country together.

This is another opportunity to showcase your skills in encouraging Growth Mindset. Ask them what aspects of study abroad they really liked – was it the travelling, being curious explorers, meeting new and different people? Together, you can help them identify these things as well as opportunities to still practice the essence of what they loved.

For example, if they loved going to museums on the weekends, encourage them to continue that practice here in New Orleans. If they liked their buddy from their host university – there are buddy systems for international students at Tulane, and they can pay it forward.

OSA Advisors also adore talking to returnees! Encourage them to meet with their Study Abroad advisor to talk about their experience. OSA Advisors can also talk them through reverse culture shock as well.

How do they go back abroad?

There are many options for living and working abroad after graduation. Encourage your student to meet with the Office of Fellowship Advising to discuss nationally competitive scholarships that can fund further (and funded) education abroad.

There is also NTC Career Services, who can help students tailor their resume and study abroad experience for the international job market.

They can also study abroad again through our office during undergrad if it works with their academic progression! They should meet with their Academic Advisor and Study Abroad Advisor to discuss options for another semester or summer program.


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