Study abroad pre departure orientation preparing yourself for a great study abroad experience
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Study Abroad Pre-departure Orientation Preparing yourself for a great study abroad experience. Preface. Congratulations on your decision to study abroad! The purpose of the Study Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation is to help you prepare for your study abroad experience.

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Study Abroad Pre-departure Orientation Preparing yourself for a great study abroad experience

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Study abroad pre departure orientation preparing yourself for a great study abroad experience

Study Abroad Pre-departure OrientationPreparing yourself for a great study abroad experience


Preface

Preface

Congratulations on your decision to study abroad!

The purpose of the Study Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation is to help you prepare for your study abroad experience.

The opportunity to travel, study or work abroad in any of the foreign country is undoubtedly one of the greatest privileges in any student’s life. The pre-departure information provided here will assist students in making all the necessary preparations for staying healthy and safe abroad.

Although this orientation covers a lot of important information, study abroad students are encouraged to assume the responsibility of ensuring that they have prepared themselves for a successful study abroad experience by researching additional information about their program and destination. Some useful sources of information are books that are related to the country and culture of destination, previous participants, international students from such destination, articles about culture shock, living with a host family, etc.


Index

  • Registration Process : 4

  • Expectations: 5

  • Academics-

    • Academic Policies: 6

    • Changes In Courses: 7

  • Finances-

    • Financial Aid: 8

    • International Education Fee & Scholarships: 9

    • Money and Budget:10-11

  • Housing Arrangements-

    • Types of Housing Arrangements: 12

    • Comparing Housing Options: 13

    • Things to Know about your Housing: 14

    • Advice for Students Living with Host Families: 15-17

  • Health and Safety: 18

  • Cultural Adjustment: 19

    • Culture Shock: 20

  • Travel Arrangements-

    • Passport: 21

    • Visas: 22

    • Packing: 23-24

  • Don’t Forget!- 25-26

  • Photo Contest: 27

Index


Registration process

Registration Process

  • All students participating in Texas State exchange and affiliated programs must enroll in CATSweb in ISEP courses.

  • The ISEP courses serve as place holders in the system so you can maintain your Texas State student status at Texas State while you are abroad.

  • Failure to register in the ISEP courses may have serious consequences such as your financial aid not being able for disbursement.

  • Please follow the instructions provided by the Study Abroad Office carefully and meet all deadlines. The ISEP courses will be replaced with the courses you will be transferring from abroad.


Expectations

Expectations

  • This is a great opportunity to explore the world while continuing your education.

  • Challenging situations and difficult moments might occur.

  • Your attitude can make a huge difference in your study abroad experience.

  • The more you prepare, the more you’ll enjoy the experience.

  • Students usually refer to study abroad as “a life changing experience”; we hope this will be your case too!


Academic policies

Academic Policies

  • You must observe the attendance policy in place for your programand make sure that you comply with financial aid regulations.

  • You will receive letter grades for your courses. These grades will impact your GPA.

  • Your academic learning will be assessed either via exams, presentations, papers, etc. You will need to earn your grade!

  • You will only receive credits for the courses approved through the transfer credit agreement form.


Changes in courses

Changes in courses

Texas State Credits

Transferring credits

If you are participating in a faculty-led program you will receive Texas State credits. If you decide to take a different course from the one approved you will need to:

  • Fill out the “Request for Change” form

  • Receive approval from your Academic Program Director

  • Receive approval from your academic advisor at Texas State

  • Receive approval from Texas State Study Abroad Office

  • Keep a copy of all these approval for your files.

  • Drop/Add course(s) through CATSweb as required and necessary

  • Changes in courses are not allowed after late registration

If you are participating in a Texas State exchange program, affiliated program or non-affiliated program you will receive transfer credits. If you decide to take a different course from the ones already approved, you will need the following:

  • Complete a new transfer credit agreement form available from the Texas State Study Abroad Office. This form needs to be approved by the Texas State Office of Undergraduate Admissions via the Study Abroad Office. Graduate students need to contact the Graduate College.

Remember that if you received an IEFS award or financial aid,

you must maintain a full-time status to qualify for your funding.


Financial aid

Financial Aid

  • If you are receiving financial aid for your study abroad program you must contact Ms. Mary Rios at the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship to verify that you have completed all the necessary requirements to receive your award.

  • You will be required to submit  the verification of academic engagement form during your semester abroad. This form is available from the Study Abroad Office website. 

  • Failure to comply with Financial Aid requirements may result in having to repay your awards.


International education fee scholarships iefs

International Education Fee Scholarships (IEFS)

  • Students who received an IEFS award must maintain full-time enrollment abroad (12 US credit hours per semester in spring and fall and 6 US credits hours in summer).

  • Failure to comply with this requirement will result in having to repay your IEFS award.

  • For more information and scholarship opportunities please check out: http://www.studyabroad.txstate.edu/students/financial-assistance.html


Money and budget

Money and budget

  • Find out the current exchange rate, as well as recent history of this rate. This can give you an idea of how this rate may fluctuate upon arrival.

  • Contact your current financial institution and inform them that you will be traveling abroad so they won’t freeze your account (due to possible fraud).

  • Know your limits on how much money you can withdraw on a daily basis.

  • Inquire about foreign transaction fees.

  • Make photocopies of your cards in case they get lost or stolen and put them in a safe place.


Study abroad pre departure orientation preparing yourself for a great study abroad experience

  • Figure out best form of banking abroad for you. Is it recommended to open a bank account while abroad?

  • Find out if your current bank is affiliated with a bank at your destination.

  • Set up a budget for your time abroad.

  • Prepare yourself with some resources in case of an unexpected expense.

  • Avoid carrying large amounts of currency.

  • Follow local safety recommendations.

  • Although different in appearance, it will be real money what you’ll have with you! Have a sense for money conversion when spending money!


Types of housing arrangements

Types of Housing Arrangements

  • The type of housing available vary by program. In some cases, programs may give you an option to select the type of housing you prefer. In other cases, you may not have the opportunity to choose. Common options are home stays, apartments and university dorms.

  • Each type of accommodation has advantages and disadvantages. It is recommended that your take some time to think about what would be the best choice according to your own personality, goals, and particular circumstances.


Comparing housing options

Comparing housing options


Things to know about your housing

Things to know about your housing

  • Reservation deadlines & procedures

  • Check-in & check-out dates

  • Regulations/Rules

  • Services included

  • Location: proximity to school, laundry facilities and internet access

  • Information about your family and/or roommates

  • Fees and method of payment

  • Description of the facilities

  • What is already provided: linens, cooking utensils, towels, etc.

  • If you need to pay a deposit, how are you going to be able to get it back


Advice for students living with host families

Advice for students living with host families

  • If contact information is available, contact the host family prior to your arrival.

  • Introduce yourself and try to learn more about them.

  • Bring a small gift for the family to show your appreciation to welcome you into their home. It will also work as an ice-breaker.

    • Suggestions: items which represent who you are, your culture, or something that can be enjoyed by the family. (Ex: Texas Country CD, flag, scrapbook, etc.)


Advice for students living with host families cont

Advice for Students Living with Host Families (Cont.)

  • As soon as you have settled in, talk with your host mom/dad to share each other’s expectations. The more you understand the conditions of your homestay, the better chance you both have of a great experience.

    • Some topics recommended for discussion are:

      • Meals: dietary restrictions/preferences, meal times, are you allowed to cook, snacks between meals, any rules, etc.

      • Household chores: what you are responsible for cleaning, laundry, general help around the house, etc.

      • Bathroom: Understand how the toilet and shower work, as well as bathroom schedules and shower norms as far as frequency and lengths.

      • Common areas: What areas of the house do you have access to? Can you use their TV/phone?

      • Privacy: Is it ok to lock your room? Who will have access to your room? Will you be given a house key? What if you lose your key?


Advice for students living with host families cont1

Advice for Students Living with Host Families (Cont.)

  • Guests: Will you be allowed to have guests over?

    • If so, can they spend the night/are they welcome to have dinner/ is it ok for you to interact when your host family’s guests?

  • Safety: Inquire about how to lock/unlock doors and windows, work the alarm system, emergency contact numbers, if a safe is available, do you have a curfew?

  • Think about any other scenario that you can anticipate based on your own circumstances and address in a kind way each one of your concerns.

  • Keep in mind that they are opening up their home to you, and that this may require some level of adaptation from you. In time, both, you and the host family will get to know each other and most likely will end up with a beautiful, long-lasting friendship.


Health safety

Health & Safety

  • Your health & safety while studying abroad is extremely important, before you go please check out:

    • http://www.studyabroad.txstate.edu/parents-and-family/health-and-safety-abroad.html


Cultural adjustment

Cultural Adjustment

  • Most study abroad students experience a range of emotions as soon as they leave home. It is common to feel overwhelmed or frustrated about the culture of the host country.

  • Typically, you can probably expect to go though an initial period of excitement. As this excitement wears off, you may begin to start missing your life back home. Some level of frustration may be experienced at times, which can cause unusual irritability. Minor difficulties and challenges, especially those that are related to cultural differences, may take great relevance and lead to major crises. In some cases they can even cause depression. Keep in mind that this is a natural process, and that it may last just a couple of days. Once you are able to learn how to cope with the cultural differences, you will soon find yourself adapting, which will then allow you to feel more comfortable at your new home.


Culture shock

Culture Shock

  • Culture Shock is the process that most people experience when adjusting to a new culture. Typical symptoms include: homesickness, feeling bored, excessive sleep, changes in appetite, and irritability.

  • The level of culture shock can vary from person to person. Whatever the level may be, some recommendations on how to deal with, or even eliminate, its effects are:

    • Be aware that culture shock can happen to anybody and there is nothing wrong with experiencing it. The important part is how you deal with it.

    • Get enough rest; you will probably need more rest more than the usual.

    • Meet local people, this can help you learn about the culture.

    • Have an open-mind and avoid judging.

    • Maintain a sense of humor.

    • Ask people why they do things that way; this will help you understand their culture.

    • You don’t need to agree with what people do abroad, but accept that it it the way they do it based on their own values and beliefs.

    • Try to focus on the positive and try to learn from the negative.

    • Give yourself a break and get together with other Americans. Sometimes it feels good to verbalize your feelings. Keep in mind that if you are going to discuss the local culture, you need to do it in a discrete and respectful way.

    • If the symptoms of culture shock don’t go away or worsen, talk to a counselor.


Passport

Passport

  • A passport is a document, issued by a government agency, which certifies, for the purpose of international travel, the identity and nationality of its holder. The passport is required for both departure from and re-entry to the United States.

  • Make sure that your passport doesn’t expire within six months of your return to the US (some destinations may have different requirements).

  • Keep it in a safe place and do not carry it with you on a daily basis; carry a photocopy with you instead.

  • You will need to have your original passport with you when traveling to different countries


Study abroad pre departure orientation preparing yourself for a great study abroad experience

Visa

  • A visa is an official permission given by the government of your host country that will allow you to enter into their territory. There are different type of visas requirements depending on your destination, your country of origin, purpose of travel, length of your stay, etc. Most long-term study abroad programs require a student to have one. It is important to contact the embassy or general consulate of your country of destination to inquire about specific visa requirements.

  • Visas may take months to be issued, allow ample time for this. Remember no visa= no study abroad program!

  • Non-US students must contact the International Office to inquire about the requirements for leaving the US due to your participation in a study abroad program. Failure to do so may result in denial of re-entry to the US.


Packing

Packing

Packing for a great study abroad experience can be stressful. Here are some tips:

  • Remember that everything you pack you will need to carry. If you are unable to carry it on your own, then you are packing too much!

  • Leave some room for any new items you may purchase while abroad.

  • Inquire about airline luggage regulations and pack accordingly.

  • Find out about dress customs in your destination and pack clothes that will help you blend-in with the locals.

  • Pack a nice outfit for special occasions.

  • Do not pack anything that you are not willing to lose.


Study abroad pre departure orientation preparing yourself for a great study abroad experience

  • If you are going to a place where the temperature will vary, pack clothes that you can layer.

  • Pack clothes that don’t require special wash.

  • You will probably walk more than the usual, bring comfortable shoes! In some destinations closed-toes shoes may be recommended due to possible injuries or infections.

  • Power adaptors and converters as applicable

  • If you know your roommate, see if you can share some items.

  • Shower shoes

  • Camera

  • Backpack or tote bag for day field trips

  • Find out if you really need to bring a laptop. Keep in mind that a laptop can be stolen, so you may need to carry with you at all times .


Don t forget

Don’t forget!

  • Follow airline customs and regulations.

  • Travel documents in your carry-on

    • Passport

    • Visa (if applicable)

    • Financial documents

    • Airline tickets (round trip)

    • Letter of acceptance in your study abroad program

    • Address where you will need to go as well as arrival instructions

    • Important phone number(s)

    • Prescription medications appropriately packed and identified

    • Glasses/contacts

    • Toiletries and a change of clothes in case of baggage or flight delays

    • Cell Phone

    • Pocket Dictionary


Don t forget1

Don’t Forget!

  • Bring a carry-on with the following:

    • Airline tickets

    • Passport and visa (if applicable)

    • Insurance cards

    • Acceptance letter from the sponsor institution

    • Address and arrival directions

    • Important contact information

    • Financial documents

    • Prescription medications

    • Glasses/contacts

    • Cell phone

    • Pocket dictionary (if applicable)

    • Toiletries and a change of clothes in case of baggage or flight delays

    • Make sure that you comply with airline and customs regulations.


Photo contest

Photo contest

  • Every year Texas State has a study abroad photo contest. Winners receive the Byron Augustin award.

    1st place: $100

    2nd place: $75

    3rd place: $50

    All you need to do is submit five of your best photos and a small description of each. The winning photos will be exhibited at Texas State, as well as in the Texas State Study Abroad Office website.


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