You’re Going Abroad!

Going abroad is a fun and exciting time, but there’s a lot of planning to do before you go! Here is some information to help you through all the stages of going abroad.

Before Going Abroad

You’re getting ready to go!

But there are a few more steps, and a few more things to consider. The Office of International Programs holds a pre-departure orientation session each semester for students going abroad. You will be notified of the date by email (usually near the end of the semester).

The following items will help prepare you further for your journey:

Enrollment Forms

  • Complete all of your assigned Enrollment forms in your online account.
  • Remember that you can access these forms before and after you depart.


  • IF you do not already have a Passport, CLICK HERE and apply for one immediately.
  • IF you already have a Passport, be sure to check the “expiration date” and make sure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months after your program term ends. If you need to renew your
  • Passport, do so now.


  • Most countries (not all) will require you to register as a visitor and/or student before you arrive in that country.
  • The process to obtain a visa is different for every country, thus it is important to determine what are the visa requirements for the country/-ies to you will travel during your time abroad. CLICK HERE for a list of foreign Embassies.
  • Follow the visa application process carefully and thoroughly. This process can take anywhere from one day to several months.


  • Presbyterian College requires that all PC students participating in an international program carry medical and emergency insurance that will cover you in another country.
  • Once you are approved and admitted to your program, OIP staff will enroll you in an international medical and emergency insurance plan with CISI.
  • Understand what this policy will cover and NOT cover.

Learn more about your Host Country

  • Basic Facts (location, size, history, language, religion, cultural values, etc.)
  • Current Events (economic, political, social movements, athletics and entertainment, etc.)
  • Tourist Information (important things to see and do, weather, transportation systems)
  • Health and Safety (U.S. State Dept. Information, CDC, etc.)
  • Pre-Departure Orientation at PC

All PC students are required to attend a Pre-Departure Orientation meeting offered by OIP staff.

CLICK HERE to view the PC Study Abroad Handbook!


  • You will likely over-pack for your journey, but try very hard not to.
  • You can find American and American-style products in most countries throughout the world, so it isn’t necessary to take everything you think you might need to live for the entire term abroad.
  • Make sure that you take prescription medications in their original bottles with original labels and take extra copy of the written prescription from your physician. Some prescription medications allowed in the USA are not legal in some other countries. Thus, it’s important that you ask your physician to check and see if your specific medication is legal and refillable in your host country.
  • Extra baggage and too-heavy luggage can add very expensive costs to you at the airport (and not allowed on some airlines). Be sure you know the luggage requirements for the airline(s) you will be traveling with.

Airport Departure

  • Check your flight status before leaving home to see if you can tell if your flight is delayed or canceled.
  • ARRIVE EARLY! Processing for International flights takes longer than domestic flights. Especially if you are a first-time traveler, you will need extra time to navigate the airport check-in process and getting to your gate. Most airlines recommend that international travelers arrive at least three hours prior to boarding.
  • Carry the contact information for the person expected to meet you at the airport at your destination, and take it in your carry-on luggage. In case your flight is delayed or cancelled you should contact the arrival staff.

While You're Abroad

You made it!

Once you are in-country, begin to get to know your surroundings. Immerse yourself and maximize your time abroad!

Here are a few things to remember while you are away:

  • Notify the OIP when you arrive at your host institution
  • Email the OIP ( as soon as you arrive at your host institution to let us know you arrived safely.
  • Login to your online account and fill in the “Contact While Abroad” section of your profile. This will help us keep in-touch with you for emergency purposes.

Course Registration at your host Institution

  • If you have not already registered, review your transient form to make sure you enroll only in courses that you have gotten approved at PC. Although you may take whatever courses you like, you will only receive credit for approved courses.
  • If you need to change your course selection to enroll in a course that you did not get pre-approved at PC, you must contact your Academic Advisor (by phone and/or email) and have the course approved.
  • Once the additional course has been approved please forward those emails to OIP and the Registrar’s Office.

Communicate with OIP while you are abroad

  • We are always interested to hear about your experiences while you are abroad. Do not hesitate to contact any of the staff in the OIP office to share how things are going.
  • Feel welcome to send us a postcard, photos and videos.
  • Especially if you have problems, contact OIP to discuss your issues.

Registration for courses at PC when you return

You should receive a campus wide email week with registration information. Since you are studying away from PC, you have three options for pre-registration:

  • Contact your advisor for him/her to register you
  • Contact Vicky Wilson with your course schedule listing and she will register you
  • Or register yourself through Bannerweb

Remember that you cannot register before your specified time based on your classification. If you have any questions, please contact Vicky Wilson at

Enjoy the opportunity of a lifetime!

Parents, Family, and Friends

Your son or daughter is interested in or has already chosen to study abroad, and you would like to know what this experience entails. We hope that the following article will answer many of your questions.

Studying abroad will almost certainly be a defining period in your son or daughter’s educational experience – a psychological journey that will transform him or her into a global thinker with international perspectives and put him or her a step ahead of the competition in the eyes of prospective employers. In spite of this, you — and your son or
daughter – may have a wide range of feelings about the upcoming experience, from excitement at its potential to stress at the idea of being far apart.

By understanding each other’s feelings and supporting decisions before, during, and after the period of overseas study, you can help maximize this opportunity. Here is some advice on what to expect.

Encourage, but don’t push

Before your student leaves, offer your full support. Let him or her know that you will be there throughout the experience if needed, including that you can still be reached from overseas.

Time abroad sometimes begins with a honeymoon period, during which students are excited to finally be in the setting they’ve been anticipating. After facing realities such as unfamiliar university procedures, unexpected difficulty with the local language, commuting woes, and the absence of usual support groups, culture shock can set in. At the same time, the student is away from on-campus medical, psychological, and advisory services on which he or she may have come to rely (a major change in university life since we attended college is the degree to which students rely on these resources). Expect to hear some tales of frustration, though your child will likely experience many
wonderful things as well, even if you are not the first to hear about them. In most cases he or she won’t expect you to solve problems, as much as you may want to, and is just looking for an understanding ear.

Maintain a level of distance

By overcoming any difficulties he or she faces early on, your son or daughter will quickly rise to a new level of independence, so avoid the temptation to become too involved. Ultimately, this is his or her learning experience.

It’s also important to remember that study abroad students are not on vacation. Attending class with him or her or taking your student out of class to sightsee will interrupt the educational process and immersion experience. If you want to visit, it’s best to do so when the program has finished so you can travel together. And it’s usually unwise to try to obtain permission for your student to return home early; the end of the semester is the most important part of his or her academic experience. Being present as the program begins can also interfere with your student’s ability to adapt and relate to other participants on the program.

Prepare for the transformation

After living abroad for as long as study abroad students do, they can’t help but be changed by the experience. This can take many forms, from new ways of dressing to cravings for different kinds of food to new political perspectives. Don’t worry too much: negative feelings usually last for a very short time, while a realistic view of “home” and its place in the world remains with most students for life.

Be prepared for him or her to experience some degree of reverse culture shock: most do and will need some time to fully readjust to living at home again. In some cases, he or she may even experience a period of depression or longing to return abroad. Once again, your support, interest, and understanding will help your son or daughter during this life-altering experience.

Observing and discussing changes like these is an excellent way to share in your son or daughter’s international experience, and you will probably want to hear more than most other people, which will be satisfying to your son or daughter. Most study abroad participants report years later that the time they spent overseas was the best part of their college years—and that it changed them for life.

Practical Preparations

It’s a delicate balance, making sure your son or daughter is prepared for his or her time abroad and letting him or her take the lead at the beginning of this new experience. Here is a list of things that should be resolved before departure, and our suggestions for ways to do so:

Program Policies

Make sure your student understands what policies apply to him or her while abroad. Ask the Office of International Programs about credit, enrollment status, financial aid, study abroad-related fees and services the school will provide while abroad. Ask the Office of International Programs for the terms of participation, which covers issues such as course load, changes to academic programs, grade reporting, fees, and refunds.

Travel Documents

Check that your son or daughter’s passport and any required visas are in order. You should also have a valid passport in case of emergency. Passports should be valid at least six months beyond end of stay.


Before departure, your son or daughter should have a general physical and dental exam; women should also have a gynecological checkup. Make sure he or she packs a complete medical record and a typed copy of any prescriptions needed. Ask your doctor how best to handle routine prescription medications.


Decide with your son or daughter how to access money for both everyday financial needs and emergencies. Certain monetary instruments may be preferable in certain destinations, so ask The Office of International Programs for more specific recommendations.

Generally it is important to ask your bank how (or if) its ATM card will function abroad and what extra fees there might be. A personal credit card with cash advances could also make sense. Then, make arrangements to pay any monthly bills and, if necessary, to file your son or daughter’s income taxes.


Continue carrying your student as a dependent on your health insurance policy, even though he or she will have coverage while studying abroad through PC. Be aware that in many countries the cost of medical services must be paid in advance by the patient (and then reimbursed by the insurance company). Insure valuables your son or daughter will take on the trip, such as a laptop computer, camera, or video recorder.

Travel planning

Research travel costs and help book flights unless the student is traveling on a group flight. Learn regulations regarding the type and size of luggage that can be carried; then help your son or daughter pack lightly. Be aware of any restrictions the tickets you purchase may have (such as a change policy). A money belt can help keep valuables safe during the trip.

Contact planning

Make sure you have a telephone number where you can reach your student and know the times of day when he or
she is most likely to be there. Minimize the cost of staying in touch by establishing methods in advance. Contact
your phone service provider to arrange for a calling card, research internet phone options, or learn the most
inexpensive way to call collect or wirelessly from the destination country. You may be able to select an international
plan that has reduced calling rates to that particular country to minimize costs of calling from home. Given the cost
of telephoning, it might be better to set up a regular schedule for e-mailing, instant messaging, or video chat with
an application like Skype instead. Remember to take time difference into account.


Make sure you will be informed if your student runs into difficulty overseas. Since students are almost always adults (over 18 years of age), you will not receive that information unless you are designated as his or her emergency contact. In some cases, even that is not sufficient, so you may want to have him or her sign a release form as a precaution. Discuss how you will handle any family emergencies that may arise. It’s best to have a written emergency communication plan listing the methods of communication to use and the order in which to use them. Give your student a copy of the plan, which should include: all family telephone numbers; access codes for messages on family answering machines; phone numbers for several out-of-state relatives; and several e-mail addresses, including a backup address at an overseas provider such as Yahoo! Australia.

Data file

Gather all of the information you and your student might need while he or she is away, including:
contact information for:

  • your student (if housing has been assigned)
  • on-site Resident Director
  • home office of the program provider (ask if they have a 24-hour emergency number)
  • study abroad office at the home school
  • doctors who have treated your student in the past
  • citizen assistance section of the embassy or consulate nearest your student’s program
  • U.S. State Dept. Office of Overseas Citizen Services
  • insurance policy numbers and how to submit claims
  • your student’s credit card numbers
  • your student’s passport number
  • duplicate lost passport kit (your student should take one abroad as well) containing two passport photos, an
    official copy of his or her birth certificate, a photocopy of the photo, signature, and visa pages of passport,
    and study abroad program calendar


If you want to help your student prepare, make plans to take care of the following necessities together:

  • understanding program policies
  • travel documents
  • health preparations
  • financial preparations
  • insurance
  • travel planning
  • how to get in touch while abroad
  • what to do in case of emergency
  • collecting a data file

Keep up-to-date stateside

You may have to help handle some things for your son or daughter while he or she is abroad, such as:

  • renewing a driver’s license
  • registering to vote or requesting an absentee ballot
  • filing income taxes
  • paying monthly credit card bills
  • preparing for the next semester at the home school (open mail from the college and remind your student)
  • registering for classes
  • selecting a housing option
  • preparing forms to continue financial aid

Remember to remind your student to share as much information with you as possible throughout the process.

When you Return

Welcome Back!

Returning from studying abroad often brings unique challenges and unexpected stress that require special attention and reflection. If this is happening to you, know that you are not alone! The OIP hosts a re-entry meeting each semester where you have a forum to share stories with other returning students, discuss reverse culture shock, and learn about opportunities to get involved locally and continue your international path from right here on campus. A representative from the Office of Career Programs also visits to discuss how to translate the skills you have acquired into job-hunting proficiency and career success.

Over the course of the year we will keep you posted about opportunities to promote studying abroad, such as representing your program at the study abroad fair, speaking on a panel about study abroad for prospective students, visiting classes and dorms, or working part-time in the OIP.

We encourage you to make use of all the available resources as you experience the challenges of re-integrating into campus life and American society. The links above will be a good start, and our staff is here any time you want to pay us a visit.

Here are some links talking about dealing with reverse culture shock you may find helpful when returning to America: