Some of the biggest challenges students face while studying abroad are culture shock and homesickness. Homesickness can strike at seemingly odd times, and usually sets in within the first few weeks of a student’s time abroad. Culture shock and homesickness often come in waves. In order to best support your student, we recommend keeping consistent contact with your student, whether through regular e-mails or Skype sessions, but be aware that too much contact with friends and family back home can exacerbate homesickness. Above all, remind your student that they have your support in their decision to study abroad, and that you recognize the positive experiences and growth they will achieve through studying abroad.
Some students find that returning home and dealing with reverse culture shock may be even more difficult than adjusting to life abroad. If your student is having trouble coping, one of the most helpful things friends and family can do is simply listen to them talk about their experiences. Study abroad alumni frequently feel as if friends and family back home do not acknowledge or appreciate their experiences as much as they would like, so providing a patient and engaged ear can help them through a difficult readjustment period. Also, please encourage your student to attend our Unpacking Seminar, during which they will learn more about further integrating their study abroad experiences into their lives.
The Office of Global Education strives to provide as much support as possible throughout all phases of the study abroad process. Our relationship with students generally begins during their first visit to our office, in which we provide students with information about their various study abroad options, speaking with them about CU Denver Global Study, Semester, and Internship Programs Abroad, as well as acquainting them with third party and direct enrollment options, if applicable. Students going on CU Denver programs then apply through our website, while students interested in third party programs or direct enrollment must send information about the program they have chosen to our office, so that we may vet the program to ensure safety and academic rigor.
Before students depart, they must attend a pre-departure orientation, in which we cover such topics as health and safety, packing tips, dealing with culture shock, and address identity issues abroad. While students are abroad, we are here to offer any support they may require, whether academic or personal, and are available 24/7 in case of emergencies (see In Case of an Emergency).
Once students have returned, our office facilitates transfer of credit from third party or direct enrollment programs, as well as provides an Unpacking Seminar to aid students in further integrating their study abroad with their academic, career, and personal goals.