Things You Do that Stress Out Your Advisor

Trying to study abroad? Make sure you don't do any of these things that stress out your study abroad advisor! Read on for practical tips and entertaining stories about the entire study abroad process.Let me stress that I thoroughly enjoy my job as a study abroad advisor.

(I mean, I have an entire blog dedicated to it.)

It’s never dull, students are (mostly) wonderful, and they keep me on my toes.

However, there are some things that, no matter what, stress the hell out of me.

If you wish to remain on your study abroad advisor’s good side, here are things to NOT do:


You miss deadlines.

Deadlines exist in study abroad offices for any of the following reasons:

  1. You need a visa and the paperwork takes time to procure from overseas.
  2. We have to review your application and it makes sense to review all study abroad applications at one time.
  3. The deadline is for a scholarship (and missing these deadlines = no money fo’ you).
  4. Our partners abroad require things from you (like an application).
  5. We want to stress you out and find it fun.

Please don’t miss your deadlines.  If you do, be prepared to not go abroad.

It’s that simple.

You don’t complete all of your presentations, documents, or email responses in a timely fashion.

Sure, we know the “Know Before You Go” presentation is annoying to watch.

We also know that you have too much stress in your life to pay too much attention to your study abroad requirements.

Believe me, your study abroad advisors probably tried to blow off paperwork and requirements for their experiences lo these many moons ago (#guilty).

However, if you don’t read the “Visa Requirements” until right before your departure, for example, you will need significant amounts of luck, charm, and more luck to get your visa.

Please, for the love of all that is holy, read everything.  As soon as possible.

Even better, respond when you receive an email.

I have known quite a few students who had their study abroad offers rescinded because they didn’t submit their documents.

Moral of the story?  Complete all the things!

Your future self will thank your current self.

You blow off pre-departure orientation.

Again, we get how lame orientations seem (…are).

You are going to study abroad, so why can’t you just figure it out when you arrive?

Here are some reasons why you have to come to pre-departure orientation:

  1. The university is liable for your actions abroad, and this helps make us feel better about at least telling you about what to expect abroad (even if you already know).
  2. The person in charge of risk management wants to stress you out.
  3. We have tips on money, communication, staying safe, making good choices, and more!
  4. We’re jealous of your time abroad and want to make sure you know how lucky you are.
  5. We have been to the place you’re going and will impart some of our knowledge to you.
  6. Also, because we said so.

Trust me, I know that some students will roll their eyes at everything I say.  And some sections will be painful for all of us (“I can’t wait to talk about sex!” said no one ever).  But you still need to attend.

And, if you come to mine, I end all pre-departures with an enthusiastic rendition of “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”  

You’re welcome in advance.

You don’t tell your parents of your plans.

All right, so you applied to a program and got accepted.  Congratulations!

Then, you schedule a meeting with me, you, and your parents.  Sounds good!

However, they walk in and say “my son/daughter is not going to study abroad because s/he didn’t tell me.”



Listen, I will do almost anything for students.  I have called embassies, argued with airlines, given out my cell phone number, fronted cash to students, written letters of recommendation for near strangers, wiped away tears, powered through stress headaches on orientation day, forgone sleep because of a time difference, gone to questionable extremes to contact students after terrorist attacks and natural disasters, and edited essays for scholarships during nights and weekends (on the day of the deadline) to help students.

However, it is your job to tell your parents that you want to study abroad.  Pleeeease don’t put me in an uncomfortable situation with your parents.


You don’t reply to check-ins.

I have talked previously about what to do in the event of an emergency.  I can’t stress enough that you need to contact your home university before you contact your parents.

We care deeply about you.

We care even more that you come home safely at the end of your program.

When something goes down like a natural disaster or a terrorist attack or a notable event that makes international news, there is a good chance that your advisor will want to hear from you.

There is an even better chance that your advisor will write you an email that is titled “IMPORTANT” or “RESPONSE REQUIRED” or “ARE YOU THERE.”

Respond to these emails as quickly as possible.  Many blessings will be bestowed upon you when you respond.

Take my word for it.

You go bungee-jumping or skydiving in Australia or New Zealand.


No, really.  Check your insurance.  If you become a human pancake, your parents will have to find a lot of money to bring you home.

Jump out of planes and off of bridges in your home country.  Please.

You miss a required class field trip because you planned a weekend trip to Paris.

Listen, Paris is my favorite city in the whole world.  I get it.  Paris is amazing.

However, I just received an email from your professor (how do they have my email?!), that you skipped a required field trip.

It’s important to schedule your weekend trips after you receive all of your syllabi from your classes.  A personal trip is not an excused absence from class.

Remember to keep the “study” part in “study abroad.”

You wreck your housing.

House parties: great idea in the United States, not as great of an idea in a number of other places.

No matter where you are in the world, if you leave your apartment/dorm/housing a mess when you leave, you will be billed for it.

However, when you are a study abroad student, you are representing your home university and country.

If you destroy your housing (doors off hinges, holes in walls, vomit left behind, discolored everything, trash everywhere, broken windows and mirrors…), you have the potential of ruining your home university’s relationship with the host university or organization.

Also, let me stress that if your Student Conduct Office finds out, this will probably make it to your judicial record.

You have been warned.

You drink too much.

If you are from the United States, you may be aware that there is a stereotype of the “drunk American” who studies abroad.

Almost all problems that students face while abroad involve alcohol.

If you drink, you will end up hopelessly drunk at least once while abroad.

The local alcohol likes to kick some ass, and it does it quite well.

When you drink, stay safe and make good choices, but please don’t get stumbling drunk on school-sponsored drinking outings.

Also, orientation week is a great week to limit your drinks to less than one (drink, not liter) per day.

I have been contacted less than an hour into the first orientation session in the host country about a student who was beyond drunk at 9:00 in the morning.

Kindly don’t be that person.

Classy drinking is better than sloppy drinking any day.


You forget to request a transcript from your program…

… and then subsequently blame the study abroad office for not processing it.

We very likely did tell you that you needed to request one and it wouldn’t automatically appear.

It’s probably in that email you didn’t read entirely.

When I ask you about your time abroad, you only talk about your weekend trips.

… Didn’t you go to classes and study at a university?

I mean, I’m glad you saw parts of the world you hadn’t seen before – and yes, I know that Amsterdam is soooooo cool.

However, I’d love to hear more about your professors, classes, the university, and the city you lived in.  Tell me all about this!

You are really articulate but you don’t talk about your experience to future students.

I know you have a gift of gab (#BlarneyStone), so please use your powers for good and spread the good news about studying abroad!

On the other hand, what has your study abroad advisor done that has stressed YOU out?  Share in the comments below (and I promise I won’t tell!)

Related Reading:
9 Tactics to Survive the Pre-Semester Panic

The “What the Hell Have I Done” Moment
Drinking While Abroad: Staying Safe
When to Start Planning for Study Abroad
7 Habits of Successful Study Abroad Students

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