Frequently Asked Questions
Where do Union students go abroad?
Students participate in terms abroad and foreign exchanges in Asia (China, India, Japan, Russia, Vietnam), Europe (Belgium, Czech Republic, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain), North America (Canada), Oceania (Australia, Fiji) and South America (Argentina and Brazil). If you have questions or concerns about travel and re-entry, visit the webpages of Union's Advisory Council on Global Affairs.
In addition, mini-terms are offered during winter and summer breaks. During summer 2015 and 2016 students went to mini-terms in China and Poland. During December 2016 students went to mini-terms in Argentina, Bali, Egypt, New Zealand, South Africa, and Spain. During the winter break, there are also opportunities to study in the U.S., including mini-terms in Louisiana (Community Engagement), the American South (the Civil Rights Public History Mini-Term every odd year) and New Hampshire (the New Hampshire Presidential Primary Mini-Term every four years).
What are the application deadlines?
Students apply for international programs two terms in advance. It is very important that they meet these deadlines: Fall term, mid-January; Winter term, mid-April; and Spring term: mid-September. All applications, essays and unofficial transcripts are due by the third Friday of the appropriate month in the International Office, located on the third floor of Old Chapel.
Are all of the credits transferrable?
In each program, all courses count toward the graduation requirement of 36 courses. All terms abroad and exchanges satisfy the General Education "Other Cultures" requirement. Some courses with departmental designations count toward departmental requirements as well.
Where do students live?
Students live with host families in Australia, Brazil, France (Rennes), Fiji, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, and Spain. They stay in dormitories or apartments in Belgium, China, Czech Republic, England, France (Lille), Germany, Greece, Ireland, Vietnam and on the National Health Systems term abroad.
How competitive are the programs?
While we're proud of the unusually high percentage of Union students who study abroad, our international programs are competitive, some highly so. Because of the competition, all students who are eligible for programs are not necessarily guaranteed participation. Attendance at informational meetings is essential. These are announced to students in advance.
Can students go on a mini-term and a term abroad?
Yes, students may apply and be selected for both types of international programs, but students can go on only one full term study abroad program per their academic career. There is no limit on the number of mini-terms students may participate in.
How are students selected?
Selection criteria include the student's essay, GPA, faculty recommendations, course of study, certification by the Dean of Students, and the faculty selection committee's assessment of the student's ability to adapt to the program's social and academic environment.
The selection committee also seeks a group of students with varied academic and intellectual backgrounds and interests. The College urges students to get advice from their academic advisors and from the International Programs Office to choose programs appropriate to their interests.
How much does it cost to study abroad?
A term abroad costs approximately $650 more than a term on campus. With the exception of work-study, all financial aid a student receives on campus applies to the program. The term abroad fee covers tuition, room, board, and all group excursions. Arrangements and the cost of round-trip travel are the responsibility of the individual student.
What is the difference between a term abroad and an exchange?
There are three significant differences: There are no group excursions on an exchange. Participants in an exchange are not charged the terms abroad surcharge. Except for the York, England exchange, there is no Union faculty member accompanying students on an exchange; rather, a staff member at the host institution is responsible for the Union students.
What forms are required to go abroad?
There are a number of forms students and their families must sign and return to the International Programs Office by the deadline given at the first orientation meeting for each program. Included in these is a Participant's Agreement, a legal document that has to be signed by the student and both parents in front of a Notary Public. See the Union Participant Agreement for more information.
What about medical coverage while my student is abroad?
All students participating in a Union College study abroad program will be enrolled in a GeoBlue health insurance plan that provides comprehensive medical and evacuation insurance coverage. After being accepted into a program, students will receive access to the GeoBlue Student website to learn more about the benefits, tools, and services available. Students will also receive an insurance card, which should be carried at all times while abroad. Parents can access information about GeoBlue International Insurance by visiting the GeoBlue Parents website.
Students should check to see what vaccinations they will need for their program.
Who arranges air travel to the chosen country?
Each student is responsible for arranging airline reservations. The College does not arrange group travel. If your student does not have a passport at the time of application, he or she should apply for one immediately. The passport must be valid for six months after the end of the program. If a visa is needed, this process should be started as soon as possible, as well.
Be sure to keep a copy of your student's passport, visa, travel itinerary homestay or dormitory information.
When would be the best time to visit my student abroad?
Visiting your child abroad can be a wonderful opportunity, but must be done with discretion. Visiting your child during the scheduled study abroad program is not optimal; instead it is better to visit either before the program starts, after the program is over, or during a scheduled vacation break. While this is a vacation for you, your child is studying and has responsibilities during the scheduled academic program. Visiting after the program is over is often the best time for everyone, as the student can show-off newly acquired language skills and serve as an enthusiastic and knowledgeable tour guide.
What's the best way to keep in touch with my student abroad?
Before your child leaves, arrange how you will communicate, i.e., email, Skype, cellphone, international calling card. It is also important to know the name and email, telephone number of Union's contact in your child's overseas program.
Please don't worry if you don't hear from your child right away. Be prepared for delays in initial contact – plane delays, difficulty in setting up phone or computer communication. Remember, your child is very excited about traveling abroad, so contacting parents may not be the first priority!
Please remind your child to keep all valuables with them in a safe place.
Be supportive and encouraging if your child is initially homesick or unhappy. This might be due to the change of culture. This usually resolves itself within a week or so. If this persists, encourage your child to talk to the faculty in residence, the International Programs Office or the international office in the host country.
Your child must keep in touch with the faculty in residence, and they must stay at their accommodation.
Is there a number I can contact in case of emergency?
In case of illness, hospitalization, lack of contact from your child or other potentially life-threatening situations, Lara Atkins, Director of International Programs, can be reached at this emergency number: (518) 573-0471.