General Study Abroad Questions
Why choose BCA Study Abroad?
BCA Study Abroad is one of the nation’s oldest independent organizations committed to promoting cross-cultural understanding and academic excellence through college study abroad programs. Rooted in the values of peace and justice, BCA’s programs include opportunities to study peace and justice issues on site. Our programs also incorporate an understanding of histories and daily life through cultural immersion and group excursions. Our on-site resident directors run orientation programs at the start of each semester that provide an overview of host culture, history and, in some cases, language instruction, to help students prepare for their study abroad experience.
What are the benefits of studying abroad?
Studying abroad presents students with the opportunity to engage in new cultures, enroll in courses that provide a new understanding and leave the world in which they are familiar. As they are pushed beyond their imaginations, students will understand their strengths and weaknesses and have a better sense of self. In addition, students experience new cultural and social perspectives as well as academic differences that aid them in developing goals for the future. BCA is committed to providing students with the resources to become responsible global citizens.
Health & Safety Questions
How do I know if my child is doing OK?
We realize that you may be concerned about your student’s safety while so far away from home. As a study abroad provider for more than 50 years, we continue to draw from our extensive experience in structuring safe and rewarding study abroad programs. To that end, our staff, both in the United States and abroad, is trained and knowledgeable about safety procedures and emergency management. We stay informed about current events in our study abroad locations and communicate with parents when needed.
What if my child becomes ill overseas?
During on-site orientation, all students are provided with information regarding local emergency and non-emergency medical providers that can be used if needed. In addition, BCA works with On Call International to provide worldwide assistance and evacuation services for all study abroad participants. The services range from telephone advice and referrals, to full-scale evacuation by private air ambulance. The On Call network of multilingual specialists operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year around the world. The On Call membership, provided by BCA, protects and treats your student for difficulties that could arise while abroad.
Does my child need insurance to go abroad?
Yes. BCA requires that all students have major medical insurance before going abroad. We will ask your student to supply policy information on the BCA Certificate of Health that is signed by his or her doctor. You must also contact your insurance provider before going abroad to ensure that your student is covered while abroad and to learn the procedures if medical services are needed.
If your student currently does not have health insurance, please check with his or her college or university to see if it offers student plans. You may also purchase study abroad health insurance, which is available at a reasonable cost from a number of providers.
Do you offer financial aid? Can my child use financial aid from college?
BCA does not offer financial aid, however, we do have a limited number of scholarships available each semester, which are awarded based on demonstrated financial need and the quality of the BCA application submitted, specifically the stated goals for studying abroad, references and overall academic history. Read more about the scholarship here.
Many U.S. colleges and universities allow students to use school-awarded scholarships when studying abroad. Any financial aid from a student’s school is transferred at the school’s discretion. When institutional aid is permitted for study abroad use, it may mean that the cost to study abroad is about the same amount your student would pay in tuition, room and board at the home college or university. Students should consult with the financial aid office for further information and advice.
Does BCA Study Abroad offer a payment plan?
Fees directly billed to students are due prior to U.S. departure. If it is necessary to defer payment until financial aid is disbursed, these arrangements can be made by contacting BCA’s Chief Financial Officer, Teresa Shaw.
How can my child access money while abroad?
Most students prefer to maintain their U.S. bank accounts and withdraw money using an ATM card. Be sure to let your bank and/or credit card company know that your son or daughter will be abroad for a few months. Prior to departure, call your financial institutions with the dates and location of the trip abroad. Many banks have implemented strict anti-fraud measures, and overseas charges can trigger a security alert that can temporarily freeze accounts pending verification of charges. You should also ask your bank for a phone number to call in case you encounter any problems.
How do students travel to the study abroad sites?
Most BCA Study Abroad students choose to take the group flight arranged by BCA through its travel agent. Once enrolled, students receive group flight information as soon as it is available. One advantage of the group flight is that all BCA resident directors and staff meet group flights at airports and transport students to the orientation sites. If a student declines to take the group flight and makes his or her own travel arrangements, the resident director will not be available to meet the student at the airport, and the student will be responsible for travel to the orientation site. Students who decline the group flight and travel on their own are asked to send their itinerary to the BCA central office no later than two weeks prior to their departure date.
My student wants to take advantage of this opportunity to do some independent travel. When would you recommend doing so?
Most students naturally wish to take advantage of this opportunity and travel independently once abroad, which is encouraged. However, independent travel will depend on each student’s study abroad location and course schedule. If time permits, a student can arrange to travel before the program starts or after the program concludes. During the semester, a student may plan travel, but will need to plan trips around coursework or other activities on site.
Does my student need a Visa to study abroad?
Visa status is determined by program destination. Some countries do not require a Visa if a student is studying for less than 6 months, whereas other countries require a Visa for even a short-term stay. Visa information is available on each student’s on-line BCA account. Consult with your child to determine the specific Visa instructions for his or her program. BCA provides guidance for all students when they apply for Visas, but it is the responsibility of the student to ensure that proper arrangements are made to secure the Visa in a timely manner.
How can I keep in touch with my child?
After acceptance and enrollment in the program, students receive information that contains a mailing address for their use. For some programs, this mailing address is their dormitory and for others it is the BCA office. Internet is readily available at most sites through university computers, BCA office computers, and sometimes through dormitory access. In addition, you should discuss phone calls with your student and what method works best for your family. Some students choose to purchase cell phones once in the country, others choose to use calling cards. Skype©, an online phone connection which can be easily downloaded to a computer, is a popular option for many students.