Office of Global Citizenship

Preparing to Study Abroad


Studying abroad or in another part of the U.S. requires careful planning. If you are planning to study abroad, it is imperative to have a valid passport, usually with an expiration date that is two months beyond the duration of your time abroad. Depending on the duration and location of your study abroad program, a visa may be required for the country(ies) that you visit. Visas can take a great deal of time to issue, so securing a valid passport and submitting visa applications early is crucial. Sewanee does not directly support passport and visa applications, but providers of approved programs have information about visa application procedures for the country(ies) visited by programs that they operate.

Any checklist of preparations is bound to be partial, but the below checklist can help students prepare for their time abroad:

  • Apply for a passport if you do not have one, or renew your passports if expired or will expire within six months of completion of your trip. Start the application or renewal process early. The State Department recommends, and many countries and airlines require, that a traveler have six months validity on an existing passport.
  • Have a valid credit card and/or ATM card. Limit the amount of cash that carry on your person. ATMs are a convenient way to withdraw money in local currency units, and you may wish to contact your bank to ensure that your bank network has ATMs in the country(ies) in which you will travel.
  • Make copies of your passport (and visa, if applicable), credit cards, and ATM card. Leave one copy with your family, and take one in your travel bags, separated from the originals.
  • Several months before traveling, review the immunization recommendations on the website for the Center for Disease Control for the country or countries that you plan to visit. In addition, visit a doctor or health clinic to discuss and to receive immunizations that will help prevent illness. Some immunizations require more than one dose, so begin this process early.
  • See a doctor(s) to receive prescriptions for required medications that will last for the duration of the time abroad. In some countries, prescriptions may be difficult to fill, so, if possible, fill the prescriptions in the U.S. before you leave. Similarly, it is good to have a copy of your eye glass prescription when you travel.
  • Bring copies of immunization records that may be required or recommended for the country(es) that you will visit.
  • Consider purchasing a temporary plan for a cell phone or android that allows international calling. Make arrangements for how to communicate with family, friends, and Sewanee during emergency situations or on a regular basis.
  • Take several additional passport size photos with you, which may be used for identifications at your host institution or in case you lose travel documents.
  • Carry a small medical kit with basic medicines, bandages, sunscreen, diarrheal medicine, antiseptic cleanser, and antibacterial soap.
  • If your destination uses a different current of electricity, you may wish to purchase an appropriate adaptor. Alternatively, you may purchase one while abroad.
  • Do not pack more luggage than you can reasonably carry.
  • Bring a few token gifts from your university or home to give to friends and faculty that you will meet. If you have a host family, you may wish to bring a more significant gift.