Education Abroad

Congratulations and welcome to the world of opportunities at the University of North Alabama! Education abroad can raise many questions for family members of interested students and the Office of International Affairs is more than happy to answer these questions. This page is designed to assist you as you try to navigate this exciting opportunity for your student. We understand you want to help your student have a successful education abroad experience. However, allowing your student independence navigating this opportunity will be beneficial for them once they are overseas. Please feel free to contact the Office of International Affairs for any questions or concerns you may have.

What is the benefit? In today’s global market and tough economic times, students must do everything they can to make themselves more marketable. Education abroad is a resume booster, it shows the student has initiative, is willing to take risks, and also step into the unknown. Education abroad creates competent global citizens who appreciate the world we inhabit and how our respect of others views informs our own views and the world we create. Studying abroad requires flexibility and the capability to think on your feet. Individuals who have studied abroad and showcase this on their resume often find themselves talking about it in their job interview. You’ll know what we mean when your student returns and you wonder who he/she is. Your student will have gained great self-confidence, knowledge, and independence. Perhaps even lead to a new life outlook and career goal.

  • You can find many program details online, including in many cases, available courses, fees, and dates but we always recommend talking with your student about the program, they often already have all the answers.
  • Come to orientation! All family members are invited to attend the program orientation for your student’s education abroad program. Orientation dates can be found on your student’s program canvas course and is mandatory for the student.
  • Research, research, research! Be sure to look at all the options available to you for your cell and home phones.
  • Daily communication is unrealistic. Remember this is your student’s chance to gain some independence. They can’t do that if they’re checking in every day.
  • Students on longer programs consistently recommend Skype, google, WeChat, WhatsApp, iMessage, and Facebook messenger as easy communication tools.


  • Your student may call at some point during the program and be very unhappy or even depressed. This is usually associated with Culture Shock. It is difficult to enter another culture and grow accustomed to everything that is so new and different. Even if your student initially called with extreme excitement, this call could come a week or a month later. We recommend you not to encourage your student to come home or ‘feed’ their depression. Encourage them to continue to remain involved, seek out American food and other comforts that may remind them of home.
  • In many cases the problem they call you about solves itself within 24 hours. Resist your initial urge to fly over and save the day.  Don’t forget to ask them to call you back within the next 24 hours. Usually by that time they are feeling better and problems are solved – but they often forget to call and tell you that part.
  • Encourage your student to seek out the people necessary to help resolve the problem and let your student take the lead in doing so. Remind your student who can help with issues that have popped up so they can solve them on their own.
  • Encourage your student to ask about the emergency plans for the program they are attending.
  • All students participating in education abroad will receive an emergency contact card at orientation. Ask your student for a copy of all emergency numbers and keep them handy in case of emergency back home.
  • At least one parent/guardian should have a valid passport in case an emergency occurs and you need to get to your student abroad.
  • Encourage your student to leave a copy of the following at home:
    • Passport
    • All ATM, debit, and credit cards, front and back
    • Insurance cards (both primary and travel-specific), front and back, with plan information including contact details for the provider
  • It is normal for family members to be concerned for the safety of their students, particularly in light of recent world events. Here is an article by Go with some recent conversations with parents.

If program cost is a concern for your family, you are not alone. The majority of education abroad participants seek out some type of aid to make their dream a reality. See this page for information about funding.

  • All students interested in education abroad should make the Student Financial Aid Office one of their first stops. Even if your student has not been eligible for federal aid (grants and loans) before, education abroad is an additional educational expense that in some cases may make them eligible for aid.
  • Encourage your student to apply for the UNA Education Abroad Scholarship, and other independent education abroad scholarships available to them. See this page for information.
  • Remember to compare what each program is providing for the cost. One program may appear much cheaper than another because it is not providing roundtrip airfare and the other is.
Kodi Henderson

Kodi Henderson Niehaus 

Coordinator of Education Abroad 
& International Exchange

Location: 133 Powers Hall
Phone: 256.765.5217