FAQ for parents (but not only)

Getting the most out of an IFE Field Study and Internship program

As a parent, you have had a chance in this section ("Lasting impact") to get information and insight on the value of a semester spent enrolled in an IFE program. In addition you have concerns about the well-being of students at IFE, and about maintaining contact with your daughter or son, including questions such as:

Will my daughter/son be safely and adequately housed?

Yes. Each IFE program offers students a housing service whereby IFE arranges lodgings provided by known individuals and entities which meet IFE standards. Housing criteria are linked to student success: students enrolled in a challenging program abroad need a space where they can speak the host language with locals, and where they are adequately housed without the distractions of discomfort, discord or worrisome details. IFE follows up on each housing situation from the start, to make sure that no problems remain unaddressed. Financial arrangements with the housing entity are handled directly by IFE.

Will there be a chance to travel?

Within the program context and goals, yes.

  • IFE's programs are not travel programs, and their goals are quite different from those of tourism. Students are encouraged to use travel timeĀ  (some weekends, holidays, and the break between the preparatory session and the internship session) to explore the region and the country in which they are living, and to remain in the host language. In each IFE city, IFE staff offer travel ideas, suggestions, and itineraries for stimulating short- and mid-range excursions and trips.
  • Students are encouraged to take some time after the semester for travel. Students are also encouraged to consider that IFE training results in a lifelong habit of international mindedness including travel, and not to see this as their "one chance" to be in Europe.
  • Finally, as for travel with visiting family members, IFE strongly suggests that the best time for this is at the end of the semester, to ensure that the cultural and linguistic learning curve throughout the semester is not interrupted or diminished.

What can I do to support my daughter/son during the semester?

  • Before and during the semester, encourage them to exercise their intellectual curiosity, sense of adventure, problem-solving and self-reliance.
  • Before they leave, talk about a sensible communication schedule, whereby they know you are there for them but they do not feel the need to be in constant contact. How often is too often, for the good of their immersion locally? (And keep in mind that after 3PM Central Time is a late night chat for a student-intern in western Europe!)

What happens if the internship is not a good experience?

IFE staff follow each student placement closely, especially in the early days of the internship. Students have played a full role in determining the internship placement, and they have been taken by IFE to an introductory meeting well before the start of the internship. If and when small problems or miscommunications occur IFE staff are well trained in what protocols to follow. In the rare event that a more serious difficulty arises, there are procedures for that as well, often involving discussion among the student, the host organization, the program staff, possibly IFE central leadership and if useful professional staff at the student's study abroad office. Lastly, IFE will not hesitate to change placement if it is agreed that this is the best course of action.

When would be a good time for me to visit my daughter/son?

The end of the program is ideal for family visits. The IFE semester is intensive, full of learning opportunities through study, work and social life. It is taxing for IFE student-interns to host a family visit in the course of the semester. IFE also strongly urges parents to consider the downside of their accompanying their daughter or son at the beginning of the semester. IFE programs take arriving students in hand at this key moment, as they learn (quickly) to navigate their new home in an independent, immersive and rewarding way.