Now that you have applied for a study abroad program, you should continue your research while you are waiting to hear the outcome of your application. The International Programs staff are ready to help you. In many cases, we can put you in touch with previous study abroad students, who can provide you with detailed information about your host country or program. The web is also an excellent place to gather more information.
The following list of questions is intended to alert you to the many practical issues you should address in order to be truly prepared for study abroad.
Academic Preparation for Departure and Arrival
- Have all the necessary university offices been notified about my plans to study abroad? How do I pre-register for courses for the semester I return?
- Are there semesters or terms? Will I know the school calendar ahead of time? When are vacations? When do classes begin? When am I expected to arrive?
- How do I go about registering for classes at my overseas university or center? Are there catalogues and class offerings posted? What is normally considered a full class load? Does Puget Sound require that I sit for a final exam? How can I find this information? How will I get an official transcript sent back to Puget Sound?
Personal Preparation for Departure and Arrival
- What is included in the program costs and benefits? Have I planned for such additional costs as vacation travel, entertainment, gifts, etc? Can I get a part-time job in "my" country? Will I need a work permit?
- How do I get a passport? How long does it take? What can I do to avoid having my passport stolen? If my passport is stolen, do I know where to go for a new one?
- Will I be going to countries which require a visa? If so, have I obtained the appropriate visa? What is a visa?
- What, if any, diseases are prevalent in "my" country? Have I checked into this? What inoculations, if any, will I need to get before I leave? What medications should I carry?
- Do I know weight and size limits for luggage on planes? Do I realize that I may be carrying all of my luggage for plane and train changes? Have I experimented with a "dry run" packing system? Do I really need all the items I packed? Can I manage alone?
- How will I proceed to the host campus once I have arrived in the country? Have I checked train and bus schedules? What if I arrive on a weekend or late at night? Who will I call? What will I do if no one can meet me?
- What are the residence halls/dormitories like? If I live in a residence hall, will I be able to stay in a single room? Can I room with local students? Do the residence halls have visitation hours? Do I want to live on campus when I return? What should I do before I leave?
- If I am staying with a family, have I selected gifts to take with me for them? Am I familiar with "hostess gift" customs?
- Do I know the currency exchange rate of the country in which I will be traveling? Do I know how and where to obtain some of that country's currency before I leave? Am I familiar with the bills and coins?
- Are traveler's checks a good idea for me? Do I know where to get them cashed in "my" country? Do I know what to do if they are stolen? Do I have a credit card in case of emergencies? Do I know about the different ways to have money sent to me in case I run out of funds? How will I transfer money?
- What is the value to me of an International Student ID card, Youth Hostel membership, Eurail or Britrail pass? What other discounts are available to students?
General Preparation for Daily Life Abroad
- Have I read as much as possible about the country or countries in which I will be traveling or studying? Have I written to national tourist agencies for maps, free guide books?
- What is the climate like where I will be? Do I have the appropriate clothes for the climate? Am I bringing too many clothes?
- How close is housing to the town and university? Should I take bed linens? What laundry service is available?
- Will I use public transportation to get to classes? How much does it cost? Am I ready to spend 30-60 minutes on a bus/train to travel to class from my residence or homestay? Should I plan to buy a car or bike? Will my driver's license be valid abroad? Do I need to obtain an international driver's license? What rules govern driving, car rental, insurance?
- How do I open a bank account? What are banking hours? Is there a bank on campus? (is there a "campus"?) How long will it take to transfer money? Do I have a bank card that will work overseas?
- Will a cell phone be provided to me by my program? What should I budget for cell phone use?
- Have my family and friends been informed as to how to reach me while abroad? Have I updated my address book so I can reach them?
- Do I have a journal in which to keep a written record of my experiences?
These are just some of the questions you need to ask yourself. Remember all of us in International Programs are here to help you!