Preparation for Study Abroad
A student visa is required to study in most countries, and it is your responsibility to understand visa requirements. As the application process may be lengthy, you should investigate visa requirements as soon as soon as you are approved to study abroad. You must send a valid passport with your visa application so make sure that you apply for a passport well enough in advance to allow yourself ample time for acquiring a visa. Visa application processing times can take as long as 90 days or more.
Visa applications and process information can be obtained from the consulates of the country in which you will be studying. For detailed information on entry requirements, visa types, and the location and contact information of consular offices, visit the website of the country’s embassy in the United States or the State Department’s database of Country Specific Information. You can also obtain information and apply for a visa through a visa expediter such as Perry International in Chicago. Fees vary depending on how quickly you need the visa. Program providers generally provide information on student visas, although they may require that you apply for the visa yourself. Be sure to include the cost of the visa in your budget calculations. For financial aid purposes, this cost is considered part of your educational expenses. (See Budget Worksheet in the Financing section)
Plan ahead for health care and the immunization and documentation requirements for the countries you will visit. Get all necessary dental work completed before you travel. Take an extra pair of eye glasses (or contact lenses) and a copy of your prescription. Check Consular information for regulations and restrictions on the transportation of medications within your host country. Research the availability of medications you may need during your stay. Remember to bring a copy of any prescriptions for medication as you may be asked to show them in order to bring prescription medications across the border.
Consult with a medical provider about which immunizations are suggested or required for your host country--they can take several weeks to complete. Allow ample time. Don't crowd vaccinations. Please be sure to check the Centers for Disease Control’s website for the most up to date information on your study abroad location. Also check your host country’s information sheets for any restrictions on importation of both over the counter and prescription drugs.
Hospital equipment in developing countries may be inadequate (by U.S. standards). Consider taking a medical kit with you. Refer to Study Abroad Orientation materials for recommendations for a traveler's medical kit and other wellness issues.
See the Health and Safety page for more information.
Social Identity Issues Abroad
It is important to understand the local social context of your host country and how you will be perceived there. Some ways to do this include talking to other students who have been to your host country, reading program evaluations, researching your host country, and using the forum on discrimination on the website AllAbroad.us. This should be done before you apply, but it is also important to continue this research leading up to your departure.
Inadequate and/or incomplete disclosure of physical and psychological health concerns can impede or preclude appropriate treatment of emergency situations. Therefore, investigate options for accommodation at the study abroad site, as conditions and services for this vary considerably from country to country. If you will be studying at a university abroad, check with the office that handles study abroad students (usually either the international office or the admissions office). If you are studying abroad through a U.S. institution or organization, check with the person(s) responsible for your program. Academic Advising can help you determine which questions to ask about local conditions and services.
Using the Beloit College library resources while abroad:
You should anticipate differences in the internet accessibility of library databases and other resources. See instructions for off-campus access here, and make sure to make use of librarians before you go abroad to discuss the support you may need.
Host institutions and on-site Beloit College faculty advisors have emergency action plans that guide them through emergency situations. In case of an emergency beyond the competence or jurisdiction of the on-site Beloit College faculty director or the authorities of the host institution, or an emergency that occurs while the student is away from the program site, students should contact the nearest U.S. Consulate or Embassy. Students should also contact their guardians and the Office of International Education at Beloit College by whatever means possible (fax, email, phone, etc.). If an incident occurs, please complete an Incident Report and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
See the Health and Safety page for more information.
Your local tourist office may also be able to help you locate descriptive brochures and maps of your particular university city. You can thus orient yourself somewhat before your arrival. Look also at the web-sites of your host country and city, guidebooks, and on-line and print newspapers published in or about your host country. Go to the library and ask the reference librarian for suggestions. Use the reference information for study abroad on the Beloit College library web site. Additionally, we highly recommend that you contact students on campus who are citizens of or have studied in the country in which you will be studying.
Credits and Course Selection:
You will be expected to take a full-time course load (3 units, and a maximum of 5 units) while studying abroad. If for any reason you will not be able to take a full course load, notify the Beloit College Office of International Education immediately by fax, email, or air mail. We need to make sure you can meet your academic obligations on the program and at Beloit College to the best degree possible. Each case will be reviewed individually. Please be aware that your financial aid may be impacted by any change in your course load.
Check with your international office or program provider about the translation of credits. For institutions on the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS), credits will be translated at a ratio of 7 ECTS to 1 Beloit Unit. For provider programs using US semester hours, keep in mind that 1 Beloit Unit is equivalent to 4 US semester hours.
Note: Courses abroad must be taken for a grade, and not pass/fail. Grades will appear on your Beloit transcript but will not be factored into your cumulative GPA (except Cites in Transition courses). Beloit College will not grant credit for courses taken in physical education.
The centerpiece of experiential learning is reflection -- stepping back and taking the time to make sense of what you experience, draw connections and generate new questions. This can happen throughout your study abroad, and especially after you return home. Some ways of doing this include keeping a journal, taking photographs for a photo essay or a photo film, sketching, writing for publication, or doing a research project. Some ways to prepare for this include:
- Learning to take field notes
- Taking a photography class
Students accepted for overseas programs are considered to be mature men and women primarily concerned with the educational and cultural opportunities study abroad offers. Students who fail to live up to these expectations will be subject to the policies and disciplinary actions established in the Terms and Conditions and the Beloit College Student Handbook, as interpreted and enforced by local staff, the Office of International Education, or the Dean of Students Office as appropriate.
PLAN TO GIVE YOUR OVERSEAS EXPERIENCE YOUR VERY BEST. IT MAY WELL PROVE TO BE ONE OF THE MOST SIGNIFICANT PERIODS OF YOUR ENTIRE LIFE. BE ALERT, SENSITIVE, FLEXIBLE, SELF-RELIANT. CONFORM TO THE NORMS OF YOUR NEW COUNTRY. YOU CAN CONTRIBUTE TO REWARDING CROSS-CULTURAL RELATIONS. BEST WISHES!