If an Emergency Occurs at Home
If an Emergency Occurs at Home

Although it is not probable, it is possible that while you are in the United States, a medical, financial, or family problem could arise at home, and you will need to decide how to respond to it.

Fortunately, e-mail and the telephone usually make communications with home relatively easy. Consult with your family or friends to find out the seriousness of the problem before you decide too hastily what you should do. Here are a few things to consider in such situations:
Academic Issues

If you decide to leave, make sure your academic work will not suffer. You should meet with your academic adviser, the international student adviser, and (for master's and doctoral students) your thesis director. If you miss a significant amount of work, a professor may grant you an "incomplete" as a final grade, meaning that you will have a chance to make up the work in the next semester. You might also be allowed to drop some classes, but in that case you would not get a grade or credit for the work done.

Financial Issues

First of all, a trip back home might be expensive and could seriously impact your budget, especially if it is during peak seasons. Secondly, if you leave for a long period, your tuition as well as the status of scholarships and grants might be affected. If you need to depart for an extended period, make sure to contact your university's financial aid office to discuss your situation. Your international student adviser can help you consider your options and can also help you deal with the university's administration.

Reentry Into the United States

Whenever you leave the country, you should check with your international student adviser to make sure you have the appropriate visa and documents to reenter the United States. If your visa expires while you are gone, if you had a single-entry visa, or if you are away for an extended period, you might need to reapply at your local U.S. embassy for a valid student visa.

Family Issues

Sometimes families are reluctant to inform students living abroad of emergencies at home in order not to burden them. But not knowing fully what is going on at home can be frustrating for an international student. You and your family should discuss this issue before you leave to define what you will expect from each other during your stay in the United States.

You Are Not Alone

If an emergency situation does arise, you can expect to receive support from your international student adviser, school officials, and friends. They are there to listen to you, and they can be helpful as you decide what to do.