Preparing to Travel

There are many steps to take in preparing yourself to study abroad. Follow this checklist to make sure you don’t miss anything.

Pre-Departure To Do List

  1. Apply for a passport, if you do not already have one. Renew your passport if it will expire within six months of the end date of your program.
  2. Talk to your academic adviser about the courses you plan to take while abroad. In particular, you should discuss how your overseas courses could substitute for the requirements in your degree audit. Advisers in the Education Abroad Office cannot advise you on academic requirements for your degree.
  3. Complete all prerequisites (if applicable) for your program. Any prerequisite courses must be completed before you will be allowed to participate in your program abroad. Ask your academic adviser if your department has any specific requirements students in your major must complete before studying abroad.
  4. Complete all required paperwork for your program/host institution (if applicable). It is very important to pay attention to any forms that need to be submitted and the date by which they must be submitted — otherwise, you risk being withdrawn from your program.
  5. Obtain a visa, if one is required for study in your host country. Consult your country-specific orientation materials to see whether or not you need a visa for the country where you plan to study, and if so, what the requirements are for doing so.
  6. Make flight arrangements to your host city (or the nearest airport). You may wish to coordinate your flight with one or more students from your program, but airline reservations and travel arrangements are the student’s responsibility and will not be made on the student’s behalf.
  7. Apply for housing at your host institution, if you are participating in a program that does not organize housing for you.
  8. Complete all pre-departure orientation requirements.
  9. Learn about your host country, city, and program/institution. Be informed. Read newspapers from your host city, read guidebooks, and spend some time on your program/host institution’s website.
  10. Consult with your doctor about any health or medical issues you may have, in addition to a list of medications, generic names, and dosages you will require while abroad.
  11. Refer to University Health Services Travel Clinic for vaccination information, if any are required for extended stay in your host country.
  12. Leave copies of your flight itinerary and photo page of your passport with family members.
  13. Forward your campus mail to your permanent address.
  14. Arrange housing at Penn State for the semester you will return (if applicable).
  15. Organize the following important items to take with you in your hand luggage:
  • Your passport (and visa, if required for your program)
  • Letter of acceptance or similar document from your program
  • Orientation materials
  • Letter from your doctor indicating the generic names and amounts of any medicines you require while you are away (if applicable)
  • Photocopy of the picture/signature pages of your passport (kept in a separate place from your actual passport
  • Phone numbers and account numbers for any debit/credit cards you are taking with you
  • Copy of your Penn State international insurance policy (for reference purposes) and your 24-hour emergency contact insurance card