Guidance for Parents & Guardians

Benefits of Participation

According to data collected on the IU Bloomington campus and testimonials from program alumni and parents/guardians, the benefits of participating in IUHPFL are many and long-lasting. Typically, participants make remarkable strides in their ability to understand and speak the target language, resulting in a very strong foundation toward further study and fluency. IUHPFL alumni frequently continue their language studies into college. They also gain greater self-confidence, self-awareness, and independence.  Finally, IUHPFL alumni often develop a new outlook with a zest for new languages and cultures and a desire to become part of the global community.

Student-Guardian Orientation

Student-Guardian Orientation is an all-day Sunday event in April on the Indiana University Bloomington campus and is mandatory for students and at least one parent/guardian. Orientation is considered the first official day of the program.

At Orientation, students get to know their program peers, receive their course materials and IUHPFL t-shirts, and participate in teambuilding activities. Both parents/guardians and students receive a site-specific Student Handbook with extensive program information, meet IUHPFL Instructors and office staff, get a chance to ask questions, and commit to the IUHPFL Honor Code. For 2024 programs, the Student-Guardian Orientation will take place on Sunday, April 21st. 

Limited Communication with Home

While abroad, students communicate with family and friends back home for one hour per week online. Only written/typed communication is permitted; no phone calls or video chats are allowed, except in cases of emergency and with permission from program instructors. To this end, students do not have access to smart phones or other devices with internet capability, beyond their host families' computers, during the program. IUHPFL provides students with a rare opportunity to be “off the grid” for several weeks.

While this policy can be difficult in today's connected world, experience has shown that the IUHPFL model of total language immersion for 4 to 5 weeks produces real results. Students return to the U.S. with a remarkable level of proficiency in the language and a greater sense of independence and self-confidence. It also helps to alleviate homesickness, by allowing students to acclimate to the new time zone and culture and to connect with those around them.

Despite the lack of contact, parents/guardians can see what their students are doing onsite through the program site blogs. Each site has its own blog, and it is the responsibility of one or two instructors to update it with photos, videos, and updates at minimum twice per week.

100% immersion and no smartphones was so important.

Anonymous Parent | Saumur

Safety and Crisis Management

IUHPFL is part of a study abroad tradition at Indiana University and, as a unit of the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs (OVPIA), is therefore advised by all university policies and procedures. Not only does IUHPFL work closely with OVPIA, but also directly with the Office of Education Abroad. Decision-making and crisis management happen in accordance with university policies and in direct collaboration with university partners. 

Each program site is overseen by an IUHPFL Onsite Coordinator who is a resident of the host community. These individuals support students and instructors on a daily basis during the programs and are familiar with all local resources, including doctors, hospitals, and therapists. They are in frequent contact with the Director prior to and during the program and understand IUHPFL crisis management protocols. 

IUHPFL Instructors are highly trained, both as employees of Indiana University or an Indiana high school and as employees of IUHPFL. IUHPFL maintains a ratio of 10 students per one instructor, and no more than 35 students participate at each site. At least one instructor on each team is CPR and First Aid certified. 

With the exception of overnight excursions (when applicable), students stay with their host families for the duration of their time abroad. Host families are carefully vetted and matched with students according to common interests and other considerations. All host families are required to follow specific guidelines.

Finally, program fees include health & medical insurance, and medical care in all IUHPFL host cities is readily available and of high quality. It is important that students and parents/guardians disclose all health conditions and concerns, so IUHPFL can best care for all students while abroad. 

We were apprehensive about the IUHPFL study abroad experience. However, as we went through the process of addressing our concerns, it became apparent those involved with the program truly understand the importance of making sure students are safe and getting as much as they can from the program. The value of the program is absolute when seeing the results compared to the cost. We recommend the experience!

Douglas Gee | Oviedo