Things to Keep in Mind
You may want to visit students or need to help them with practical matters while they are abroad. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions.
How can I communicate with a student while they are abroad?
Placing international calls is an option although it can be expensive. There are several mobile apps (WhatsApp, Messenger) that will allow you to place calls over WiFi for free. Internet access is available in all student apartments and at the CYA Academic Center should you choose to use an app, email, or skype/video chat to keep in touch. In addition, each student has a mailbox at the Academic Center; mail should NOT be sent to student apartments.
Time abroad often begins with a honeymoon period during which students feel excited to finally be in the setting they have dreamed of. However, when they face realities like unfamiliar procedures, difficulty communicating in the local language, and the absence of their usual support groups, culture shock may set in.
At the same time, students are living away from the on-campus medical, psychological, and advisory services they may previously have relied on. You might therefore hear some tales of frustration even though students will certainly be having many wonderful experiences too. In most cases, they won’t expect you to solve problems; they are just looking for an understanding ear.
What should I do if a problem occurs while a students is abroad?
If the student contacts you from abroad and is upset or unhappy, it may be worrying since you feel you can do little help from afar. Please direct them to our on-site Housing & Student Support Offices since our staff are trained to deal with all areas of student experience (academics, housing, emotional adjustment, etc.) and are adept at communicating with and supporting students who are experiencing difficulties.
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 which have already been resolved.
This being said, if students appear to want you to step in to fix a problem, encourage them to sort the matter out themselves, reminding them that their time abroad is ultimately a learning experience. CYA administration and staff expect students to take their role as adults seriously even though they simultaneously make every effort to support students during stressful times.
Can I mail packages/items to a student while they are in Greece?
Aside from the occasional care package, CYA does not advise shipping items (such as extra baggage, computers, etc.) to Greece. In particular, electronic items (such as cameras, video-cameras, laptops, cellphones) 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 also be extraordinarily slow (ground packages may take months to arrive); CYA regularly receives packages 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 contents as zero may help to avoid customs charges. We also advise you to compare the rates of different shipping agencies as prices vary considerably.
All packages and personal mail should be sent to the CYA Academic Center (never an apartment address), where they will be placed in the appropriate 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.
Can I visit a student while they are in Greece?
CYA strongly recommends that parents plan any visits for the fall or spring recess, Christmas holiday period, or long holiday weekends. Please consult the program calendar for the dates of all 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.
Can students travel outside Greece during school breaks/holidays?
CYA’s program includes three mandatory field study trips to destinations around Greece, as well as three optional trips to sites in Greece and Europe, all led by qualified and experienced CYA faculty and staff. However, some students do choose to travel independently as well, and CYA asks that they report all such travel for risk management purposes. However, we also ask you to bear in mind that after the program has ended, many students say they wished they had spent more holidays/weekends in Athens; it can be both culturally beneficial and cost-effective to stay in town!
What practical issues might I need to assist with while a student is abroad?
You may have to help handle some practical matters for students 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 or 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