MICA Study Abroad Quick Facts for Parents
We are delighted that your student has chosen to study abroad! As your student prepares to embark on the enriching experience of living and studying abroad, we wish to share thoughts on the overseas study experience and suggestions on how you might support and encourage your student while abroad. Although your student is an adult, we recommend that, prior to departure, you discuss communication, finances, and safety, as these are the areas that are often of most concern to families.
(Note that this letter focuses on overseas study and uses the term "study abroad" throughout, but we are also addressing it to those of you whose students are participating in MICA's domestic [U.S.] exchange programs, similarly administered through the International Affairs office.)
Costs and Financial Aid
Students on all semester abroad programs pay MICA tuition (without fees) directly to MICA and will pay no tuition at the host school. Students are responsible for all other expenses (e.g., travel, housing, meals, health insurance, studio fees, and personal expenses), some of which may be required and billed by the host program. Costs of living vary depending upon where your student wishes to study. We talk about financial planning, external scholarships, and budgeting during required group advising sessions.
MICA students with MICA scholarships or financial aid will be able to use their award (except work-study) for their MICA abroad program. Financial aid awards will not be increased to cover any additional cost of transportation to and from the host program and students need to be able to support this cost as well as those of the living, educational, and miscellaneous expenses described above.
Students must meet the minimum qualifications for study abroad and return all required application materials on time in order to be considered. There is no guarantee that MICA can or will approve a study abroad application. Some programs have limited space and/or can be competitive. All decisions will be made by a review committee after the deadline within 3 to 4 weeks. If approved by MICA, MICA will send a student's application to the host institution or program and they will make the final decision. If MICA approves an application, additional paperwork and application materials may be required.
Please be aware that MICA has no control over the duration of a host institution's acceptance process. Many reach decisions within several weeks or a month; however, others, particularly direct exchange programs, may take longer.
Safety and Health Care
The safety of students while studying abroad is MICA's top priority. MICA follows safety and security information from the U.S. State Department and makes decisions accordingly. It is still important for families to understand that there are risks associated with travel; consequently, they should plan accordingly by purchasing appropriate health insurance coverage and researching the health and safety of the host country.
After notice of admission, please encourage your student to carefully research medical needs and resources in the host country. Also, be sure that your student fully understands the insurance coverage that he/she will have while abroad. If your student has a health condition or other circumstances that may require special attention, the student is responsible for making this known to MICA's Office of International Affairs before going abroad. Health services and accommodations vary widely in different parts of the world, and the types of care and services to which we are accustomed in the U.S. may be limited, very different, or unavailable abroad. If your student has medical needs or requires accommodations for a disability, please encourage your student to notify International Affairs well in advance of departure to allow sufficient time to determine whether specific health services or accommodations are available at a given site and, if so, how they are accessed.
All students participating in a MICA study abroad program are guaranteed that MICA will accept the credit for all courses passed from the host program as long as the courses have been preapproved. It is the student's responsibility to work with his or her academic advisor and department chair to understand how this credit will fulfill degree requirements and to obtain the necessary approvals prior to study abroad. If students fail to follow course approval policies and procedures, they risk not obtaining credit for unapproved courses. While abroad, students should document the work they complete to ensure proper awarding of credit.
Students must take a minimum of 12 MICA credits while abroad. They cannot take more than 19.5 MICA credits or they will have to pay for the additional credits. On the SACI program, students cannot take more than 15 credits or they will have to pay SACI's tuition for the additional credits. If a student falls below 12 MICA credits, this will affect his/her scholarships and financial aid.
Your understanding, support, and encouragement will be important at critical times during your student's semester abroad. For example, in the initial weeks of the semester abroad your student is likely to be intensely focused on orientation activities, scheduling classes, and learning his or her way around town and within a new academic system. This initial phase of the semester abroad period is a time when significant adjustment takes place - and for many students all of the changes and newness can initially be unsettling. However, it is important to keep in mind during this phase that, frequently, a scenario that may be relayed by a student as an emergency will quickly sort itself out. Please realize that homesickness and culture shock do not necessarily indicate a serious psychological problem in your student or any shortcoming on the part of the administrative staff abroad. Please support our efforts to encourage your student to problem-solve independently and to approach the appropriate faculty or staff member at the host institution with any issues and concerns that might arise. Learning to address and resolve problems locally and independently is a very important indicator of a successful living and learning experience abroad and will result in the most significant personal learning and development. Most students rebound quickly from a phase of difficult adjustment, and actively engaging in and pursuing new activities and friendships abroad is often the most effective remedy. Still, please do not hesitate to contact the International Affairs office at MICA if you wish to discuss any concerns.
Visiting your Student
We discourage parents from traveling to the program site to help their students settle in or from making an extended visit while classes are in session abroad. If you plan to visit your student abroad, please arrange for your visit to coincide with a scheduled vacation period or take place after final semester critiques and examinations. It is difficult for students to focus on their course work and to engage fully in their local community abroad when family and friends from home are in town. Moreover, absence from classes or other required activities abroad because of travel and/or visitors could affect grades and is strongly discouraged.
All students participating in a MICA program abroad have been made aware that they are bound by MICA's disciplinary policy regardless of whether they are on campus or abroad. They also know they are subject to the laws of the country in which they are studying or traveling.
In addition, students participating in study abroad have signed an agreement that sets out the responsibilities and consequences of behavior deemed detrimental to the student and/or the program. This includes the stipulation that students can be sent home, at their own expense, for behavior disruptive to the program.
Contacting the Office of International Affairs
While regular office hours at MICA are from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays, you may leave a message at any time, and your call will be returned when the office opens. The International Affairs office telephone number is 410-225-2243 and the e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. The office's fax number is 410-225-2548 (please send faxes to the attention of "International Affairs").
In case of emergency outside of normal business hours while your student is abroad, please contact MICA's Campus Safety office at 443-423-3333. This phone is staffed 24 hours a day, including holidays, and Campus Safety personnel are prepared to relay information to the appropriate MICA staff.
Please be aware that MICA, the Campus Safety office, and the International Affairs office are subject to the provisions of the Buckley Amendment (also called FERPA), which may limit the information that can be released to you. The amendment, designed to protect the privacy of individuals' records, may result in the delay of your access to detailed information about your student. However, please note that students are offered the opportunity to sign a waiver with the International Affairs office so that MICA can immediately release information to designated individuals about a student's status abroad.
While we have made every effort to prepare your student for an enriching experience abroad, questions or concerns may still arise. Included in your student's Study Abroad Student Handbook are important information and resources for study abroad. Please be sure to refer to it as issues arise prior to departure and while abroad.
Most students return from study abroad demonstrating increased independence, maturity, flexibility, and insight - the direct result of actively engaging in learning and in their community abroad and of facing and overcoming challenges in daily life and learning. These are the signs of a successful study abroad experience, and we hope that you will recognize and appreciate your student's achievements in these areas. For most students, the experience of study abroad is one of the most formative in their lives and your encouragement is enormously valuable in making it a success.
Please feel free to contact our office with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your student's time abroad. We hope that this will be a valuable and enjoyable experience for both your student and you.
The International Affairs Team