All program participants must have a passport that is valid for the entire length of their stay abroad. Some countries require you to hold a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after the date you enter the country, regardless of the intended length of stay. If you do not already have a passport, make sure to apply for one early, as standard processing times can take 4-6 weeks. For any questions about passports, including how to travel if you have dual citizenship, consult the U.S. Department of State.
Depending on your citizenship, the country you are traveling to, and the length and nature of your program, country-specific student visas may or may not be required. For most short-term summer or winter programs, visas are not specifically required, but for semester or yearlong programs in several countries, you will have to apply for a student visa in that country. The process of obtaining a visa varies highly by country: some countries do not require a visa for U.S. citizens staying under a certain number of days, some countries charge significant fees or have long review periods for visas, and for some visas you will need to consider re-entry permits which are critical if you will be planning to leave the country and re-enter for any reason during your program. Be sure to check your specific study abroad program’s information as well as the U.S. Department of State’s country-specific visa information for entry and exit requirements for U.S. citizens.
Smart Travel Enrollment Program (STEP)
The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service from the U.S. Department of State to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll their time abroad with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, the U.S. Embassy will know how to reach you in the event of an emergency (natural disaster, civil unrest, etc.) and could assist if an evacuation becomes necessary. STEP is also a resource for family to reach you in the event of an emergency, in case communications are interrupted. Additionally, you will receive important informational emails from the Embassy about safety conditions in your host country. We strongly recommend that every student registers themselves with STEP prior to departure.
Adapting While Abroad
Culture shock is real and most students do experience some level of culture shock, even if it is very small. The 4 stages of culture shock can be described as follows:
- The Honeymoon: You have arrived and are fascinated by the language, the people, and the food. You are so excited, not even jet-lag can hold you down.
- Frustration: You become critical of your host country and the culture because you cannot understand it or are confused by it.
- Adjustment: After some time has passed, you begin to feel more comfortable and competent in the culture. You have positive feelings about interacting with the host nationals.
- Adaptation: You have a deep understanding of the role of the culture in people's lives and can accept differences. You interact effectively in the host culture and you may have adopted some of their values and customs and made them your own.
Our best advice is to be patient with yourself; culture shock does not last forever. If you need more information, here is a good resource to further help you understand and identify culture shock.
Why you should study abroad
The world is quickly becoming more interconnected, students who wish to be apart of this movement should study abroad, below are articles explaining the benefits of studying abroad.