Things get quite busy in the weeks leading up to your departure for your study abroad program. Approximately 2-3 weeks before you plan to depart the US be sure to complete these steps.
STEP is a program administered by the US Department of State. The program registers your stay with the local US embassy. Should something happen, like a natural disaster or major event, while you’re in country you will be notified by STEP. You should register with STEP for any country you plan to visit abroad and enter as much information as you have. In the even that something does occur while you are abroad STEP will provide you with essential information.
The Office of International Programs very strongly encourages travelers to register with STEP to take advantage of this free safety/information resource.
It’s typically very easy to locate information about the country(ies) you plan to visit. A simple Google search can lead to a wealth of information; however, you should also be sure to consult more official sources. The following websites offer important health and safety information for individual countries:
Local news sites are also great resources for current events though keep in mind that not all news websites are reputable – consider it similar to the numerous “news” websites we have in the US.
Failure to contact your bank(s) and/or credit card company(ies) may result in your account being suspended while overseas. Many companies allow you to submit a travel notification online. If you are not sure who to contact you can call the general number on the back of your card or contact your local branch.
Make several high-quality, color copies of your important documents before you leave. These documents include your passport, visa (if applicable), insurance cards and credit/debit cards. You should carry a copy of these documents with you and leave the other set with a trusted family member or friend.
Flights often have changes. Typically they are minor but sometimes than can change other details of your trip. A quick check-in with your flights will prevent any last minute surprises.
Packing for time abroad can be challenging. You have to pack quite a few items while abiding by airline luggage restrictions. Making a list will allow you to think about the items you bring and, hopefully, only take what you need. You should consult your study abroad program to be sure you bring any required/specialty items. Checking the weather for your destination, both short term and general weather for the time you’ll be there, can prove tremendously helpful when packing.
As you approach your departure date you’ll want to consider the following 1-2 days before departure:
Make sure you are aware of any changes to your flight(s). Also confirm any ground transportation plans/reservations before leaving.
You should carry the contact information for your program at all times. Be sure to have a phone number you can dial from local phones. You will also want the address of where you will be staying as many countries require this information when passing through immigration.
You should also carry the Director of International Studies’ cell phone number to use in case of emergencies. This is provided during orientation.
The Transportation Security Administration is responsible for airport security. You should familiarize yourself with these regulations before traveling. The TSA website is the best resource for this.