For Parents of Students Interested in Study Abroad

The Office of Study Abroad works with Pitzer students who are interested in pursuing a semester, or year of study abroad, either on one of Pitzer’s own programs or exchange opportunities, and with guest students from other schools who wish to participate on a Pitzer program. A list of approved programs and exchanges for Pitzer students may be found on our website at Approved Programs.

  • Planning and Academic Preparation for Study Abroad

    Preparation for study abroad is something that begins in a student’s first year. Students are required to identify at least one course they have taken to provide background for the destination where they will be studying. Some programs have language requirements students must complete prior to studying abroad. Students from other schools must follow the procedures at their home college or university to be eligible for participation on a Pitzer program.

  • Advising and Application Process

    For Pitzer students, the advising and application process begins with a Study Abroad Information Session and includes a meeting with a study abroad adviser, their academic adviser, and an interview with a student who has recently participated on the program. Visit the How to Apply pages of our website for more information.

  • Acceptance Documents

    Pitzer College study abroad decision letters are sent through the student’s study abroad portal. Acceptance documents include (but are not limited to) the decision letter, an acceptance and release document (to be signed by both a parent and a student) conditions of participation, request for accommodation, contact information and a health report. After acceptance by Pitzer, some programs require students to complete a program specific application and acceptance documents in addition to the Pitzer forms.

  • Orientation for Study Abroad

    Students in the Southern California region will attend orientation on campus in preparation for studying abroad the following semester. Orientation is a two part process involving a workshop on intercultural learning so students can make the best use of their opportunities abroad and a session about the specific program and the logistics of preparing to go abroad. The program specific orientations typically take place in November for spring programs and in April for fall programs. Program dates are announced at orientation. Students from colleges in other parts of the country who participate on Pitzer programs may have an orientation by telephone.

    Students are given the option of completing the intercultural learning workshop on campus (when available) or on-line. If you would like to learn more about this orientation, visit the Website What’s Up with Culture at

  • Preparing for Departure

    At orientation, students are given an Orientation Handbook that outlines Pitzer’s policies for the study abroad experience. The handbook contains detailed information about health and safety issues, cultural awareness, insurance, airline reservations, what to bring, financial issues, etc. Parents and friends may also have questions about study abroad so public versions of the handbooks are posted on our website for reference. Orientation Handbooks.

    International Student Identity Card (ISIC)
    Students studying abroad through Pitzer will receive an International Student Identity Card (ISIC), which, in addition to providing a form of identification and proof of student status, supplies a range of emergency medical, legal and financial services. The insurance coverage is in effect whether or not the card is in the students’ possession.

    In addition, each student is responsible for obtaining a policy that will provide comprehensive health coverage both in the US and abroad for the duration of their program. The ISIC is travel insurance NOT comprehensive medical insurance and will NOT be accepted in lieu of payment at medical facilities. ISIC coverage supplements your own medical health plan, but does not replacement it. ISIC does not provide comprehensive medical coverage for pre-existing or chronic medical conditions requiring ongoing care.  ISIC Premium Brochure

    Encourage Safety
    Programs have extensive safety plans and every consideration has been given to providing a safe and rewarding experience for your student. Safety procedures and emergency preparedness are outlined in the handbooks and are covered in the on-site orientation sessions. Please go over the guidelines in the handbook thoroughly with your student and encourage them to follow the instructions of the program director and staff regarding health and safety practices. Students do bear some of the responsibility for their own safety by choosing to follow the safety guidelines advised by the program and using good judgment while abroad.

    Handling last minute doubts
    It is common for students (and their parents and friends) to have last minute doubts about whether doing study abroad program is the right thing at this time. There may be concern about missing family and friends while so far away, worries about credit transferring and nervousness about travel in general. This is quite normal and we would encourage your student to give us a call before changing plans drastically at the last minute. Every semester there are a few students who have some anxiety and think about withdrawing, but they eventually do go and are very glad they did. Do not let a normal case of “cold feet” prevent a student from having this educational experience.

    Contact with your student while abroad
    Keep in mind that your student may not be able to call you immediately from his or her program site. In some cases there is no cell coverage nearby and/or the on-site orientations schedules do not allow time for students to call right away. After the orientation period, the students may travel to areas where international telephone and email access may be limited or non-existent. Please do not be alarmed if you do not hear from your student for long periods of time. Usually, students simply haven’t been able to call, but they are still in close contact with the program staff. If you are concerned or if you need to reach your student immediately you may call the Office of Study Abroad and International Programs for students on Pitzer programs and exchanges 909.621.8104 or the program sponsor if your student is on an alternate program.

  • Expect some culture shock

    Many students are in a euphoric state during their first few weeks in a new country. This is known as the “honeymoon” phase. It is not unusual, however, for students to experience immediate culture shock or stress accompanied by actual physical symptoms. For some students this may not happen until the middle of the semester – the fifth through the seventh week are typical times. Adapting to another culture and living with a family or roommate from that culture can be very challenging, but it is in meeting these challenges that much learning will take place. Please know that the culture stress phase is a normal part of adjustment to a new situation and, with some persistence, this stage will pass. This knowledge will not necessarily make it any easier if you are the recipient of an emotional phone call. Should you receive such a call at any point during the semester, remember to stay calm and know that students often turn to their family and friends at home when they are at the lowest points in their cultural adjustment process. In most cases, after airing their concerns and complaints, students hang up the phone feeling refreshed and renewed. Unfortunately you do not get to see that since you are so far away. Expressing confidence in your student’s ability to adjust and offering constructive advice (emphasizing the importance of a sense of humor, patience and adaptability) is the best thing you can do. If your student is having significant difficulty with any issues, encourage them to talk to the on-site program staff about their problems and concerns. The program directors are in the best position to help them over any hurdles and can provide a sympathetic ear and helpful strategies to get through this normal slump.

  • Visiting your student

    Many of you may have the opportunity to visit your student abroad. We have found that the best time to visit is after the program has ended – then your student will be an excellent guide with new language skills and cultural knowledge and will have ample time to spend with visitors. Earlier visits are problematic. Some programs are very structured with little free time, especially in the early weeks of the program. Students are expected to participate fully in all program activities and to spend a good portion of their free time with their host families or roommates to better understand the daily rhythms of the culture. Family and friends cannot join in program activities, and host families should not be expected to accommodate visitors. There is usually a break during the program that would seem to be a good time for a visit but be forewarned that the program schedule may have to be adjusted without notice. Some students will be doing an independent study project, and the period devoted to this project is less structured. Students may have more flexibility during this time but they are meant to be doing research on their project and writing a substantial paper. Again, please visit after the program ends.

Contacting the Office of Study Abroad

Contact information for the office is available on the Contact Us page. In an emergency at home or abroad when our office is closed, call Campus Safety at 909.607.2000 or 909.621.8170 for assistance in contacting a staff member.