Study Abroad Student Handbook
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Study Abroad Handbook Checklist

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  •  I have visited my U.S. home campus Study Abroad Office and/or looked through study abroad reference books and websites about abroad.
  •  I know what courses are available through the program I have chosen abroad.
  •  I know whether or not I will be able to transfer the courses taken abroad to my U.S. home institution.
  •  I have researched the cost of the program abroad and what the cost covers.
  •  I know where the program is located and where the abroad program office is located.
  •  I have checked the length of the program and what time of year the program is offered.
  •  I know in what language(s) the course will be offered.
  •  I understand what support services are available through the program in the U.S. and abroad.
  •  I know who is in charge of health and safety for the program.
  •  I have spoken with students that have participated in the program and/or read written evaluations from past participants.

Selecting the Right Program for You

  •  The program I have chosen is affordable.
  •  I know how much money I will need to save in order to participate in the program I have chosen.
  •  I know about how much money I think I will spend while abroad.
  •  I have decided what study abroad program group size and class size would be ideal for me.
  •  I have considered whether I prefer to be in a class with local a citizen of the country of your choice students, other American students or a combination of the two.
  •  I know whether I prefer to receive all of my instruction in a specific language, in English or a combination.
  •  I have clearly articulated my personal goals for wanting to study abroad.

Who Runs Your Program?

  •  I have asked my program's administrators how closely my U.S. home college/university will be working with my program coordinators abroad.
  •  I know which of the five types of program sponsors runs my study abroad program.
  •  I am aware of what kind of facilities my program has abroad (i.e. a one person office versus a comprehensive campus).
  •  I know whether I will be enrolled in a foreign university, a U.S. university or an independent program abroad.
  •  I understand what services and activities will and will not be provided for me by my program.

Financing Study Abroad

  •  I have used a cost–of–living calculator to help me figure out the difference in cost between living in the U.S. and living abroad.
  •  I know whether the cost of living where I will be studying abroad is higher, lower or the same as the cost of living at home in the U.S.
  •  I have begun budgeting my income and/or saving money to provide for the costs of living abroad.
  •  I have a small pocket calculator to carry with me in order to do currency conversions.
  •  I understand what my purchases are worth–both their monetary value and their time value (how long it takes me to work for them).
  •  I have created a simple budget book/ledger with categories that will help me better keep track of my spending.
  •  I know roughly how much my study abroad experience will cost.
  •  I can comfortably afford to participate in the program I have chosen.
  •  My family and I think that the study abroad program I have chosen, and the experience of study abroad, is worth its cost.
  •  I know the limits of what my financial aid package covers for my study abroad program.
  •  In case I don't receive the scholarships, fellowships, grants or loans I applied for, I have a back–up plan.
  •  I have thoroughly researched and contacted groups, foundations and organizations that may be able to help me financially.

Application Process

  •  My personal statement/essay well reflects my talents and interests.
  •  In addition to my GPA, I have included in my application other activities, clubs, teams, student government in which I have participated.
  •  I have sent out and/or received all of the required letters of recommendation.
  •  I have had someone look over my personal statement/essay one last time.
  •  I have made sure to include in my personal statement essay the reasons why I want to study abroad.
  •  I will get a good night sleep, dress professionally and read the current events of abroad before I have my interview.
  •  I will try my best to be polite and well–mannered when answering the interview questions thoroughly and specifically.

Pre–Departure Planning

  •  I have compared ticket prices offered by travel agents, student agencies and websites.
  •  I have a valid passport and visa.
  •  I know whether or not my program requires me to show proof of insurance, provide a doctor's letter or confirmation of sufficient funds.
  •  I have made multiple copies of all important travel documents.
  •  I have registered to obtain absentee ballots so I can vote in U.S. elections while abroad.
  •  I have set up power of attorney.
  •  I have established how I'm going to pay my outstanding U.S. bills while abroad.

How Foreign Laws Apply to You

  •  I am familiar with the basic social laws of the countries to which I will be traveling, including laws related to drug and alcohol use.
  •  I am familiar with how the legal system works in each country I plan to visit.
  •  I know the location of the U.S. Embassy in each country I plan to visit.
  •  I have registered/will register with the U.S. Embassy abroad.
  •  I have proper insurance (see the insurance guide section) and a personal lawyer in case I should need legal counsel.

Communication While Abroad

  •  I know all the important telephone and fax numbers and addresses for my program's office both in the U.S. and abroad, including emergency after–hours numbers.
  •  I know the address and telephone number for my residence abroad.
  •  I know how my calling card plan works and how to use my card to call home.
  •  I know where to buy a cell phone abroad in case I need one.
  •  If I bring my PDA, its wireless service will work abroad.
  •  I have created an internationally accessible e–mail account address.
  •  All of my emergency contacts both in the U.S. and abroad have all of my contact information, and I have theirs.
  •  I know how the mail service operates abroad (efficiency, costs, etc.) and what to expect when mailing items.
  •  I have a list of everyone to whom I have given out my contact information.
  •  I have asked those to whom I have given my address to tell me before they mail me anything.

Housing Arrangments

  •  I have made a list of the pros and cons of each type of housing available to me abroad.
  •  I have asked a study abroad administrator if I can change my place of residence abroad in the event that things don't work out.
  •  After making a list of pros and cons, I have decided which type of housing suits my needs best and why.
  •  I realize that it may take time for me to adjust to the Rules, Privacy, Sharing, Telephone, Meals, Language and Social Network aspects of the type of housing I have chosen.

Packing

  •  I know how much luggage my airline allows me to check and to take on board my flight.
  •  I know what my airline permits me to carry in my carry–ons.
  •  I have researched the weather conditions over various seasons in the region of abroad where I will be.
  •  I remembered to pack all important travel documents in my carry–on, not my checked bags.
  •  I made a list of items I intend to purchase once I arrive abroad, rather than pack them.
  •  I made an itemized list of everything I packed in my suitcases in case they are lost or stolen and I need to make an insurance claim.
  •  If I have decided to ship some items, I have contacted someone abroad to insure pick–up and/or payment for these items upon arrival.

Expectations

  •  I know I will have to adapt my routine and schedule to life abroad.
  •  I have researched what the general quality of facilities like hospitals, restaurants, public transportation, payphones, etc. is like abroad.
  •  I know what modern conveniences abroad offers (i.e. internet hookups, supermarket chains, name brand stores, microwaves, cell phone service, heated classrooms, etc.).
  •  I have asked what kind of restroom facilities and toilets are standard abroad.
  •  I know whether or not I will be living in a co–ed dorm or apartment abroad, and if my program permits co–ed living.

Medical Care and Insurance

  •  I am familiar with the health care system of the country where I will be studying, including the quality of facilities and the cost of services.
  •  I know the location of the nearest hospital to my abroad residence.
  •  I know what my insurance policy does and does not cover.
  •  I will be provided with a translator if needed during a doctor visit or hospital stay.
  •  I have an emergency contact in the U.S. and abroad.
  •  I have a first aid kit.
  •  I know how to refill needed prescriptions abroad.

Basic Health and Safety

  •  Before leaving, I have gotten a complete physical from my doctor.
  •  I have received all necessary immunizations required/recommended for entry to the countries I will visit, and I know where to obtain other inoculations abroad if needed later.
  •  I know who the emergency contact will be at the U.S. and abroad.
  •  I know who my emergency contact will be at home.
  •  I have asked whether or not the drinking water is safe to drink abroad.
  •  I know what precautions to take when eating local food.
  •  I have researched where to buy food that suits my dietary needs/restrictions (i.e. for vegetarians, diabetics, etc...).
  •  I know how extensive, safe and reliable the public transportation system is abroad.
  •  I am aware of the laws and codes of conduct that are likely to impact me.
  •  I understand that the use of alcohol and drugs increases my risk of accident and injury.

Risk Factors and Strategies to Reduce Risk

  •  I know which non–verbal behaviors are considered inappropriate/rude and which are commonly used (certain hand gestures, greeting by bowing, kissing or shaking hands, etc.).
  •  I know which areas are considered unsafe in the cities I will visit.
  •  I know which forms of public transportation are safest to use.
  •  I know where to get help if I need it.
  •  I have a small flashlight to carry with me at night.
  •  I have only given out my mailing address to people I know, and those people will inform me before they send me any mail/packages.
  •  I am aware of the prevailing local attitudes towards, and local laws dealing with, sexual harassment and sexual assault.
  •  I am aware of any travel advisories issued by the U.S. State Department for the countries to which I will be traveling.

Special Issues

  •  I am aware of the prevailing local sentiment towards people of my cultural background, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, etc.
  •  I am aware of how past and current U.S. policy has affected/affects the countries where I will visit.
  •  I know how to avoid confrontations over politics/religion, and how to avoid provoking unwanted attention by not flaunting my "American–ness".
  •  I am aware of the prevailing national sentiment towards the U.S. and U.S. citizens in the countries I will visit.

Crisis Management

  •  I am familiar with my program's Emergency Action Plan.
  •  I have updated my EAP and given copies of it to all of my U.S. and abroad emergency contacts.
  •  In the event of serious injury or death, I have made my wishes clear to family in the U.S., and to my program director abroad.
  •  I am aware of what my program, the Embassy and the Consulate can and cannot do to assist me in the event of a crisis.
  •  I have been provided with comprehensive information from my program, and I have shared this information with parents/guardians/family members.
  •  I have more than one way to keep in touch with home while abroad (i.e. through e–mail, calling card, fax, etc...)
  •  I can identify the three phases of crisis, as well as the physical and emotional symptoms that may affect me during each phase.
  •  I know which active steps I will take in a crisis in order to make myself feel calmer and safer.
  •  I recognize the fact that I may experience emotional side–affects from crisis, and that my emotional responses to crisis are normal.

Adjustments and Culture Shock

  •  I am already familiar with some major cultural differences between home and the country in which I will study (i.e.: religion, language, laws)?
  •  I understand that it is normal to experience culture shock, including feelings of anxiety, depression and frustration.
  •  If my depression does not go away, I know where to get help (i.e.: a student counselor)?
  •  I expect to have both good days and bad when learning to overcome my culture shock, and I will be patient with myself as I learn to adapt.
  •  I know that I am not alone in how I feel.
  •  I will try not to be negative or overly critical of another country's culture. Instead, I will look for the positives that a culture possesses.
  •  I will make an effort to meet and make friends with locals rather than just hanging around other Americans.
  •  I will not let terrorist threats turn my culture shock into culture fear.
  •  Upon return home, I will be patient with myself again as I experience reverse culture shock. (This includes trying not to be overly critical of the U.S. just because being home is not like being abroad.)

Airport Safety, Duties and Customs

  •  I have all of my identification and travel documents in an assessable, yet secure, location.
  •  I did not accept anything from anyone before boarding my flight.
  •  I packed my bags myself and know exactly what's in them.
  •  My bags never left my sight or supervision before they were checked in.
  •  I filled out all necessary declaration forms.
  •  I was honest in declaring everything I am bringing into or out of the U.S.?
  •  I was careful to avoid carrying any item that be considered illegal in the U.S. or abroad, or may cause me to be suspected of smuggling.

Reverse Culture Shock

  •  I am already familiar with some major cultural differences between home and abroad.
  •  I understand that it is normal to experience reverse culture shock, including feelings of anxiety, depression and frustration towards home and the United States.
  •  If my depression does not go away, I know where to get help (i.e.: a student counselor)?
  •  I expect to have both good days and bad when learning to overcome my reverse culture shock, and I will be patient with myself as I learn to adapt back to life in the United States.
  •  I know that I am not alone in how I feel.
  •  I will try not to be negative or overly critical of United States or a citizen of the country of your choice culture. Instead, I will look for the positives that a culture possesses.
  •  Upon return home, I will be patient with myself again as I experience reverse culture shock. (This includes trying not to be overly critical of the U.S. just because being home is not like being abroad.)

Making the Study Abroad Experience Count at Home

  •  I have arranged for course registration while abroad.
  •  I have taken care of forms and applied for scholarships at my home campus while abroad.
  •  I have thought of ways to add an international component to my studies at home.
  •  I will try to find ways to integrate my study abroad experience with my world at home.
  •  I have begun looking at ways to use my study abroad experience to build my resume.
  •  I know that there are resources for finding other study, internship, volunteer, and work experiences abroad.
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