While You Are Abroad
Learning about your destination
Research, research, research your destination! Check out Country Handbooks for your study abroad location, read blogs, watch YouTube videos, and talk to returned study abroad students. You can't ever fully prepare for your study abroad experience, but the more you learn about your new home, the better off you'll be.
Keeping in TouchMake a plan to keep in touch. It may take a while for you to set up your cell phone so don't promise to phone home as soon as you arrive unless you have an international plan. Generally speaking these plans are very expensive and you are much better off getting a local SIM card. If your phone is not unlocked you'll need to buy a cheap phone when you get to your destination. If you have a smart phone research apps that allow you to call home for free or at very little cost. Skype, Whatsapp etc. are great ways to keep in touch, but don't spend too much time calling home - you are abroad to experience new things!
You should also consider:
- Blog and link it to the Study Abroad Facebook page. You'll encourage other students to study abroad and keep connected with friends and family.
- Send the Center for International Programs a post card - pack your address book for snail mail.
- Share your pictures and see them posted on the study abroad website.
- Skype, Facebook and call, all easy to do - provided you have electricity and connectivity. Don't spend too much time on these activities though - you are abroad to experience as much as you can - get out there and get involved!
Laws AbroadYou are bound by the laws of the country in which you reside. If you break those laws you are subject to the consequences of the legal system of that country. Ignorance will not keep you out of jail. In some countries the punishments are very severe. The American Embassy cannot get you out of jail. They can make sure you are not treated badly and are fed, but that is about it. You can read more about this subject here.
Do not take any illegal drugs while abroad even if it seems there is a more relaxed atmosphere regarding drugs. Foreigners are sometimes the target of 'stings' set up by locals. The use of illegal drugs on any study abroad program is grounds for instant dismissal and further disciplinary action upon return to campus.
Financial AidIf you are a financial aid recipient (grants, loans, scholarships) on a third party provider program or a bilateral exchange program you must let the Financial Aid Office know that you are registered in classes. Your aid will not disburse until you send them this information.
Thank You Notes
If you received a scholarship or received other significant assistance in order to study abroad, consider writing a thank you note to the donor or person(s) responsible. They will be thrilled to hear of your progress and will appreciate the thoughtful gesture.