Despite all that can be enriching about studying abroad, the thought of one’s child living in another country can rattle the nerves of even the most easygoing parents. Here are some of the most common valid concerns regarding studying abroad.
Security and Personal Safety
According to the 2019 Global Peace Index, Portugal is recognized as the third most peaceful and secure country in the world. Nevertheless, it’s important that parents talk with students prior to departure and alert for certain precautions to have in mind: research the host country beforehand so everyone can feel more comfortable about what can be found there; always be attentive to valuables and money as pickpocketing can happen anywhere; look out for scams, etc. In the end, common sense and good judgment are the best tips for staying safe anywhere in the world.
Student safety is SiPN’s priority and the program takes every measure to ensure it. Upon arrival, students are given an orientation on safety issues in Portugal and are also taken on a tour around the living and university neighborhoods in order to help them become familiar with the new surroundings as quickly and conveniently as possible. In case of a security and safety emergency, SiPN staff is within reach 24/7 to guarantee the necessary support in those cases. In case of an extreme situation, the local U.S. embassy will advise all citizens to leave the country and it may be able to offer some assistance in doing so.
SiPN students are covered with medical, accident, and travel insurance.
Health & Emergencies
SiPN staff is well-trained and has established safety procedures for crisis management in order to ensure the best care in every situation. Again, emergency staff support is available 24/7 to guarantee the necessary support for the students in case of a medical situation, which is also safeguarded in a comprehensive medical, accident, and liability insurance all SiPN students have.
It is important to have in mind that medical practices vary widely throughout the world. Students and parents should be informed of the basic healthcare system of Portugal, the 12th best-performed health system in the world according to the World Health Report. In Portugal, official services for providing healthcare are organized as the National Health Service, a network of public hospitals and local health centers. In addition, there are available private health institutions where is common to find agreements with major international insurance companies and a medical service that has English as the language of communication.
Nevertheless, students and families should consider some practical things, such as bringing enough prescript medication for the entire time abroad, along with a copy of the prescription, or knowing how to cope with injury and sickness while abroad.
Language – Worries that students might have trouble adjusting to a foreign language environment are normal, but in Portugal, the English proficiency level has come a long way in the last decades and most people can easily speak or manage English to some extent. Portugal ranks 13th in the EF English Proficiency Index Worldwide, which is rather good. The exception might be found when leaving the urban centers or when engaging with older generations that usually have lower proficiency.
Connection – Going to live abroad with an international data plan can be quite expensive. In Portugal, there a various phone services that offer affordable pre-paid data, call, and texting plans at a discounted price for students. All that is required is that your phone is “unlocked” in order to insert and activate a Portuguese SIM card. Additionally, Wi-Fi is offered in almost every spot of the city (cafes, schools, museums, hospitals, even in some public buses, etc.). Communication at long-distance should not be a problem.
Please note that recently, given the new international data packages offered by all major US carriers, we have seen more and more students traveling with a solid international data plan on their phones, which allows them to maintain their US-based number and do all their communications online. This option has proven to be very capable and less costly.