Things to Keep in Mind
You may want to visit your student or may need to help handle some practical things for them while they are abroad. Here are the most common things you might encounter.
While They’re Abroad
Placing international calls is an option although it can be expensive based on your plan. There are several mobile apps (WhatsApp, Messenger) that will allow you to place calls over WiFi for free. Internet access is available in student apartments and at the CYA Academic Center should you choose to use an app, email, or skype/video chat to keep in touch. Additionally, each student has a mailbox at the Academic Center that will hold mail addressed to students; mail should NOT be sent to student apartments.
Time abroad often begins with a honeymoon period during which students are excited to finally be in the setting that they have dreamed of. After facing realities such as unfamiliar procedures, difficulties communicating in the local language, and the absence of usual support groups, however, culture shock can set in.
At the same time, students are living away from on-campus medical, psychological and advisory services they may have come to rely on. Expect to hear some tales of frustration, though your student will certainly be experiencing many wonderful things as well (even if you are not the first to hear about them). In most cases they won't expect you to solve problems; they are just looking for an understanding ear..
If your student contacts you from abroad and is upset or unhappy, it may be worrying as you feel there isn’t much you can do to help them from afar. Please direct them to our on-site Housing & Student Support Offices, as we have staff focusing on all areas of the student experience (academics, housing, emotional adjustment, etc.) and our staff is used to speaking to students that may be having a difficult time adapting.
Questions, concerns and problems will be handled and addressed much more quickly if the student goes straight to our on-site staff. Remember that a call home to “vent” may not be a request to intervene—in fact, parents often find themselves engaging study abroad administrators about non-emergency situations that have already blown over or resolved themselves.
On the other hand, if your student appears to want you to step in to fix a problem, encourage them to solve the matter with a reminder that ultimately, this is their learning experience. The CYA administration and staff expect students to take their role as adults seriously and make every effort to support them during stressful times.
Aside from the occasional care package, CYA does not advise shipping items (such as extra baggage, computers, etc.) to Greece. In particular, electronic equipment (such as a camera, video-camera, laptop) shipped to Greece may be subject to high import duties even if their purchase value in the US is low.
Customs declarations must be made on all packages sent from overseas and import taxes—even on used items—can equal or exceed the original purchase price of some items. The mail can be extraordinarily slow (ground packages may take months to arrive); CYA regularly receives packages intended for students who have already returned home. If it is essential to ship a package to Greece, marking the package “Contains Personal Items” or "Contains Previously Used Personal Items" and declaring the value of the contents to be zero may help to avoid customs charges.
Compare the rates of different shipping agencies, as prices differ considerably. All packages and personal mail should be sent to the CYA Academic Center (never the student’s apartment address), where it will be distributed to the student’s mailbox. Mail should be marked with the student’s name, c/o DIKEMES/College Year in Athens, 5 Plateia Stadiou, GR-116 35 Athens, GREECE.
CYA strongly recommends that parents planning to visit do so during the Fall or Spring recess, Christmas holiday period, or long holiday weekends. Please consult the academic calendar for the dates of scheduled breaks and long weekends. Please also note that parental visits are not an acceptable excuse for students to miss class, and that CYA cannot accommodate parents in the classroom or on CYA-sponsored field trips.
While CYA’s program already includes 3 mandatory study-travel trips to various destinations around Greece and 3 optional trips to various sites in Greece and Europe led by our amazing faculty and staff, some students do choose to travel independently on their own time and budget as well. CYA asks that students report all travel for risk management purposes. Keep in mind that after their program has ended, many students write that they wish they had stayed in Athens for more holidays/weekends to experience the culture, so it can be beneficial and cost-effective to stay in town!
You may have to help handle some practical things for your student while they are abroad. The following is a list of the most common ones:
- Renewing a driver's license
- Registering to vote or requesting an absentee ballot
- Filing income taxes o Paying monthly credit card bills
- Preparing for the next semester at the home school
- Registering for classes
- Selecting a housing option
- Preparing forms to continue financial aid