Know Before You Go
Before departure: Be Prepared to Travel!
You will need a valid passport to leave the United States. Obtaining a passport is your responsibility. Apply early for your passport, because processing a passport application can take six weeks or longer, especially during peak travel time. You may apply in person at selected post offices, at a federal or state court of record, or at one of the passport agencies of the U.S. State Department. Once you receive your passport, be sure to sign it, and then make 3 photocopies of the information page of your passport. If your passport is lost or stolen, it is much easier to obtain a replacement with a photocopy of your original.
- First copy: for you to carry separately in case your passport is lost or stolen.
- Second copy: send to our office for your file.
- Third copy: stays at home with your family.
In addition, make sure you have at least 6 weeks of passport validity AFTER YOU RETURN.
A visa is written permission to visit a country granted by the government of that country. Visas (often student visas) are required by most countries for a semester or full year of study. In a majority of Latin America, African, Asian and Oceanic countries, visas are required of all visitors no matter the duration of the stay. To determine if a visa is necessary, contact the embassy or nearest consulate of the country(ies) you plan to visit. There are companies which, for a fee, process visa applications.
Some countries require transit visas for people to change planes at their airports -- particularly the Schengen countries in Europe. For more information on the Schengen countries visa rules, click here.
If a visa is necessary for your study abroad experience, apply directly to the embassy or consulate of the country(ies) in question. Obtaining a visa can be a long and complicated process. You cannot get your visa until you have a passport, so begin the process as soon as possible. Important for Non-US Citizens: If you are traveling on a passport other than a U.S. passport, you should check with the nearest consulate of the country to which you are traveling in order to determine whether a visa will be required. Do this as far in advance as possible, and notify our office of the documentation you will need to apply for your visa. You should check with the local consulate of your home country to determine whether there are any passport or travel regulations of which you need to be aware. You should also investigate whether you will need to apply for a new visa to re-enter the U.S. upon completion of the program. Make a copy of your visa as well!
Consult your physician six to eight weeks before you leave. Immunization requirements vary. Many countries require no immunization, however doctors recommend that everyone receive a primary series of immunizations against tetanus and diphtheria and a tetanus-diphtheria toxoid booster injection every ten years. If you are required for medical reasons to take any drug that may be subject to abuse statutes, be sure to have your prescription bottles and a copy of your prescription with you.
Access to the latest information on health issues can be obtained via the Centers for Disease Control (CDC); visit the CDC website to determine whether any specific vaccinations are needed to visit a country or learn of any dangerous outbreaks of disease.
Cell Phones and International Calling
Check with your U.S. phone carrier about being able to call home. Most companies offer calling plans for international calls. Many students have also enjoyed FaceTime, Skype, WhatsApp or Viber as free means of calling internationally. Make a plan for your cell phone/data use before you go (e.g., buying a phone or a SIM card when you are there).