Contact & Communication

CELL PHONE POLICY
As part of SIT’s commitment to student safety and security, all students are required to have a working cell phone capable of making and receiving both local and international calls throughout the duration of the program. For that purpose students are required to either (a) bring an open, unlocked smart phone from the U.S. to the program that is able to accept a local SIM card, and is compatible with and usable at the program location, or (b) work with the academic director within the first week upon arrival in country to purchase a smart phone locally, or (c) bring a dual SIM smart phone. During orientation, with assistance from SIT Study Abroad staff, students will learn how to purchase and use an appropriate local SIM card, and how to acquire minutes for calls and texting. SIT Study Abroad requires that each student have a local number for communication with the homestay family and program staff.

While we recognize that alternative communication methods can be free or less expensive than cell service i.e. Facetime, Skype, WhatsApp, etc. those programs alone do not satisfy our need for regular communication with the local program staff and partners, nor do they meet our emergency communication needs. Therefore, local cellular capacity on each student’s phone is required for the duration of the program. International plans with U.S. numbers do not meet our requirement. Students are required to maintain a minimum amount of phone credits at all times for emergency calls. Full compliance with this policy is expected.

*International Honors Program participants are required to bring a smart phone from the U.S. to the program that is ‘open’ or ‘unlocked’ and therefore able to accept local SIM cards in each country location. This phone must be compatible with and usable at the various program
locations.

COMMUNICATION WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS
SIT Study Abroad encourages parents to maintain good lines of communication with their
students and to encourage students to remain at the helm of the study abroad process, whether through the application, the visa process, or on the program. SIT Study Abroad programs require strength of character and independent mindedness, and parents can help students recognize that early. That said, SIT Study Abroad staff in our Vermont headquarters are available for parent questions, comments, or concerns at any point before, during, or after a student’s program.

PROGRAM COMMUNICATION
In most cases, when parents call or email SIT Study Abroad, they will be put in contact with the Study Abroad Student Affairs Office. The Student Affairs Office can be reached directly by calling 802 258-3212. The Vermont office is open from 8:30 AM–5:00 PM EST, Monday through Friday, with emergency service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Students should plan for communication with family and friends at home, realizing that in many program locations, communication can be slow and difficult. For regular program communication, SIT Study Abroad encourages students and parents to discuss communication expectations prior to the start of the program. Many SIT programs take place in remote locations and/or involve extensive travel. We also encourage students to consider the impact of constant communication with friends and family at home on their cultural immersion. While all students are encouraged to share with those close to them and use them for support whenever necessary, it is also important to remember that students are on the program for just one term, and that they get out of the program what they invest in their experience.

EMERGENCY COMMUNICATION
In the event of an illness, crime, or emergency while on the program, students should immediately contact their academic director or other appropriate staff member with all relevant details. Students should not give phone numbers of host families, academic directors, or other program staff to family and friends at home without the specific permission of the people involved. In an emergency, SIT Study Abroad needs to have the ability to rapidly communicate with staff on-site and phones need to remain clear for this purpose. Parents, relatives, and friends needing to urgently contact a student while on a program should do so through the SIT Office of Student Affairs in Brattleboro, Vermont, where a staff member can contact the academic directors and/ or other program staff. The 24/7 emergency number is 1.802.258.3212

COMMUNICATION WITH HOME INSTITUTIONS
SIT Study Abroad partners with all of our sending institutions. Therefore, we regularly share information about your health and safety with your study abroad office throughout your experience. For example, should you experience an illness that requires treatment at a medical facility, we are likely to let your school know about this as SIT shares responsibility around your well-being with your home institution.