FAQs for Parents

Planning is the best element of a student’s success while abroad. Students should develop a basic plan for:

Staying in Touch
Health and Safety
Transportation
Lodging
Purchases and Local Currency
Emergency Preparedness
Programs and Academics
Personal Travel While Abroad

Parents can also help by reviewing and discussing the information below as well as the parent checklist with their student before they leave: Parent / Guardian Checklist

Staying in Touch

What is the best way to stay in touch with my student while s/he is abroad?

Staying in touch is the most important element in planning. During mandatory pre-departure safety and security training, students are instructed to discuss and create a plan for staying in touch with those back home as well as those abroad with them. In addition, students are instructed to communicate with their parents if they are directly or indirectly impacted by a disruptive event. If mobile apps are included in the plan, be sure to download and TEST them before your student’s international travel begins and after your student arrives at their international location.  

Health and Safety

How do students learn about local health, safety and security aspects of their location?

All study abroad programs offer an on the ground orientation. Though these differ by program location, advise your student to ask specific questions and pay close attention. Additionally, programs offer a detailed hand-book which should be reviewed prior to departure.

Since the drinking age can be different in other countries, are there resources that can assist us in talking to our underage student about this issue?  

In many international locations students will be able to legally drink for the first time, and we highly encourage you to discuss this with your student. In pre-departure training we discuss the importance of moderate alcohol consumption and the additional risks alcohol consumption places on most activities. This is a conversation of making well-informed choices. The U.S. State Department offers guidance for student travelers in regards to alcohol and drug use here.

When a Notre Dame student participates in programs administered by third-party providers (e.g., direct-enroll university abroad or a Study Abroad facilitator), how does NDI coordinate with the third-party provider in terms of health and safety?

Notre Dame works closely with third-party providers to ensure they have appropriate health and safety protocols. In crisis situations, third-party providers are essential and beneficial resources. They assist Notre Dame in caring for and contacting students to confirm their locations and well-being.

How can parents inform NDI of student health and safety issues?

Please refer to the contact options listed at this link under “Assistance from Campus.”

Transportation

Is public transportation abroad safe?

The quality of public transportation and road conditions abroad varies greatly from country to country. Students are instructed to review the Travel & Transportation tab of the U.S. State Department’s country specific information.

Transportation (primarily ground transportation) is the number one health and safety risk for American’s abroad. Be aware that vehicles used for air, ground, and water transportation may not meet the same safety standards as those in the U.S. Students should use good judgment when choosing their form of transportation. Further, the ‘rules of the road’ differ and pedestrians may need to exercise extreme caution.

Are students allowed to rent vehicles or drive while abroad?

It is against Notre Dame policy for students to operate a motor vehicle without their parents during study abroad experiences.

Lodging

How safe is student’s lodging while abroad?

Most study abroad programs offer pre-vetted or Notre Dame controlled housing arrangements. In certain programs and potentially during person travel students may secure lodging independently and safe lodging is often difficult to discern. 

We encourage students to utilize the ND Alumni system and ask about specific housing options in consultation with an ND alum.

How are host families selected?

Host families are selected either by third-party providers or by on-site Notre Dame staff. We typically have long-standing relationships with these families and all are subject to vetting throughout their hosting relationship with Notre Dame. 

Are the dates flexible on host family housing?

On behalf of your student, Notre Dame contracts for housing with host families based on specific program dates. Individual students have made personal arrangements for additional housing arrangements on a case-by-case basis.   

Purchases and Local Currency

How much money can students expect to spend while abroad?

Students should discuss their expected budget with their families prior to departure. The amount individual students spend varies significantly even within the same program. 

What is the best way for students to obtain cash while abroad?

Each student should keep some local currency available for emergencies. ATMs in well-lit and public places are a good option for obtaining cash. Most ATM’s will accept US-bank debit cards.

Should students use credit cards while abroad?

Using credit cards in places that routinely accept them, is another reasonable option for purchasing goods and services. However, using credit cards as a cash advance is typically very expensive.

Students should consider always leaving a credit or debit card in their room when going out for either a short or long period of time. In the event of theft or lost cards, it is beneficial to have an alternative card safe. Having two resources, like a credit card and debit card, which are stored separately is a common practice. However, not all countries routinely accept credit cards, so having both a cash and credit option is best.  

Students should contact their bank and indicate travel dates and locations and discuss foreign transaction fees in advance of travel. 

Emergency Preparedness

How does Notre Dame International (NDI) attempt to account for and communicate with students in response to natural disasters or major disruptive events, such as terrorist attacks, riots, military actions, etc.?

When necessary, NDI will attempt to account for and communicate with students by email and, if necessary, by cell phone call. In addition, each program location has its own specific procedures for contacting students by email, cell phone call, text, or one of several widely used messaging apps. Home campus and on-site teams will coordinate efforts until all students potentially affected by a particular event are accounted for. In order to receive timely and effective support from Notre Dame, students are highly encouraged to update their contact information once they are abroad.

In these sorts of situations, NDI will attempt to communicate directly with students and will only contact parents in situations where: (i) a student has been harmed, (ii) we cannot make contact with the student, or (iii) the parent initiates communication directly with Notre Dame. Please know that your student may receive multiple requests for safety confirmation. Please advise your student to be patient as many groups work together to assure students are accounted for.

Additionally, students are required to register for the U.S. State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) prior to leaving campus. Registration makes the U.S. State Department aware of the student’s presence in any given location as well as provides students with automatic State Department travel warnings, advisories, and security notices. In addition to STEP, many embassies have active social media feeds which often offer immediate information.

Students are also encouraged to identify reliable sources of local news coverage to ensure they remain aware of local events that may impact their plans.

How will parents be informed of disruptive events that may impact their student’s health and safety or the Study Abroad programs themselves?

NDI will post news events with broad impact in the News section of our website homepage. Frequently, this will include information on how the event relates to Notre Dame international education programs.   

How are threat levels in cities / countries / regions monitored and communicated to students?

Notre Dame International monitors several sources of worldwide information, daily. These sources include the U.S. State Department and a peer institutions network of full-time health, safety and security professionals. We also have direct feeds from four insurance providers and monitor several private and governmental resources. This information is shared with students and as needed will be posted in the news section of NDI’s homepage during high-impact events.

If my student experiences a security or safety emergency —what steps should s/he take to get assistance?

In an emergency, students should first and foremost seek local assistance then confirm their safety with their parents, their on-site program coordinators, and/or their program contact at Notre Dame as they are able. Students are encouraged to contact their local embassy for assistance. American Citizen Services is an excellent resource for US citizens.

Many programs offer pre-populated emergency cards. For all others, NDI offers this guide. Student Medical and Emergency Card 

If my student experiences a health emergency —what steps should s/he take to get assistance?

All undergraduate students are required to confirm enrollment in GeoBlue international health insurance prior to departure. Students are strongly encouraged to coordinate local health resources prior to departure. When able, including in an emergency, students should contact GeoBlue directly to advise they are in need of care and report their care facility. Often this allows for direct billing which eases the students’ administrative responsibilities after the health care is received.   

What role do host families play in emergency health and safety situations?

Host families can play important roles in health and safety situations—particularly those involving individual student illnesses. They have formal communication protocols with third-party providers or on-site Notre Dame staff. In situations where a student becomes ill, host families typically are the first to learn of the illness and support the student in securing basic medical care and, in collaboration with on-site resources, more urgent care as needed.

What resources are available to me and my student in the event of a death or a severe illness in the family while my student is abroad?

To most effectively support your student during a death or serious illness it is best to coordinate as closely as possible with the local staff and Notre Dame International. These discussions might include transporting the student home, helping the student to find local health and mental health resources as well as coordination regarding any missed academic responsibilities.

If a family member passes away while your student is abroad, there is an emergency reunion benefit from GeoBlue, which offers reimbursement of up to $1,500 (US dollars) in the event of the death of an Immediate Family member. The benefit reimburses the cost of one economy round trip air fare ticket for the student to return home. Grandparents are considered immediate family members. In order to file a claim for reimbursement, the student should fill out the standard GeoBlue claim form and submit it with a copy of the airline ticket receipt and a copy of the obituary/death notice.

If my student is on a leave of absence from Notre Dame and is studying abroad, how would s/he coordinate health and safety preparation and incident response?

Students studying abroad on a leave of absence should coordinate all health and safety preparation with their host institution. Students on leaves of absence are not considered to be enrolled at Notre Dame. They will have general access to e-mail accounts but are not otherwise supported by the University.

Programs and Academics

How does Notre Dame generally assess risk at its various study abroad and other program locations?

Notre Dame broadly assesses risk at its various study abroad locations on an annual basis. However, international events are monitored on a daily basis. If the risk profile of a particular location changes as a result of international events, Notre Dame will respond accordingly.

How would a decision be made to curtail a program and remove students from a particular location?

Such decisions, while very infrequent, are formed by senior level ND faculty and staff members. This group which includes the Vice President for Internationalization and representatives from Campus Security and Student Affairs, works closely with program coordinators on the ground, expert external resources, and relevant groups within the Notre Dame community. Because each such situation is unique, the decision process would also be somewhat unique. The most important considerations in any situation, however, are the health and safety of our students while abroad and their ability to have meaningful and productive experiences.

In the event a program is curtailed at varying points within a semester, what academic contingency plans are in place to prevent my student from losing an entire semester of coursework?

Although each situation that may result in curtailment of a program would be different, every effort would be made to assist the student in completing the coursework either online, at a different location, over the summer months, or back at the home campus. The goal is to ensure academic progress is not compromised as a result of program curtailment.

How are programmatic field trips away from the Study Abroad location assessed in terms of health and safety considerations?

On-site program directors monitor situations or events that may impact the health and safety of students participating in programmatic field trips and will cancel or modify the planned trip as necessary with no adverse academic consequences to the student.

Personal Travel While Abroad

Does Notre Dame limit or restrict personal travel, including break period travel, while students study abroad?

Notre Dame insists students meet all academic requirements of international education thus students must attend all scheduled classes. Our approach to personal travel while abroad is much the same as when students are on campus. Personal travel is coordinated, funded, and arranged entirely by the student at their discretion. Parents are encouraged to discuss such personal travel plans with students before and during their time abroad. Parents are specifically asked to coordinate family visits around their student’s academic commitments. 

In order to receive timely and effective support from Notre Dame, students are highly encouraged to register all personal travel in Notre Dame’s Personal Travel While Abroad registrations (use appropriate link).

Study Abroad Personal Travel While Abroad Registration

Travel Registry Personal Travel While Abroad Registration

Students are also encouraged to register their personal travel destinations with STEP and identify reliable sources of local news coverage for their personal travel destination(s) to ensure they remain aware of local events that may impact their plans.