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Dear Parent/Guardian of a Study Abroad Participant,

Congratulations to your student for deciding to study abroad, an experience that we hope will be fulfilling and transforming. And thank you for supporting your student through the planning, participation and return from their study abroad program.

Michigan State University strives to provide the knowledge, skills and tools for students to gain independence, and study abroad is an integral part of this personal and academic growth process. With this in mind, our office staff provides students support in the form of advice from coordinators with regional expertise; a Student Guide; pre-departure orientation that all students are expected to attend; and referral to outside units such as the travel clinic, financial aid office, etc.

Once your student has gone abroad, he/she may experience the stress of adjusting to a new location, culture and possible foreign language. All students, regardless of maturity, disposition, previous experience abroad, or knowledge of the country in which they be living, experience some degree of culture shock. Culture shock can be characterized by periods of elation, frustration, adjustment and even depression. Every MSU program has one or more designated persons on-site to assist students with these various stages of culture shock. However, it is common for students to call or e-mail home during moments of low morale, but not when they are busy and things are going well. Consequently, families often picture a more negative situation than actually exists.

These reactions may be similar to the stages your student went through when they arrived at MSU and are part of the normal development process. We encourage you to support your student through these stages and to utilize the same coping skills they use in any new situation that creates stress.

If you have questions about this experience, we encourage you to communicate with your student so he/she is fully aware of your interest and concerns. You may also wish to review our Web site. If, after talking with your student and reading this site, you still have questions, please feel free to contact the Office of Study Abroad at (517) 353-8920.

We are eager to work with you to provide your student with the most rewarding study abroad experience possible.

Thanks again for your support, and best wishes for a great study abroad experience!


Brett Berquist, Executive Director
Michigan State University, Office of Study Abroad

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