Before You Go

READY, SET, LET’S GO!

Studying abroad can be one of the most exciting and life-changing experiences of your life, and we understand that it can be a big step. The education abroad office works closely with you throughout the planning process, including offering support during the application, pre-departure, overseas, and return experience. In addition, you should refer to your online application frequently for program updates, to submit required program materials, to ask questions, and more!

Student Expectations

Communicate: With us, your parents, your academic advisor, and with the host university (if applicable).

Meet deadlines: It is important for you to submit forms on time and make payments according to the payment schedule. The deadline for most winter/spring programs is September 15/October 1st and for most summer/fall programs is February 15th. Specific application deadlines are available on the individual program pages.

Make the most of your time abroad: Participating in an education abroad program can be life changing and we hope you take advantage of all the opportunities offered to get the most out of your experience.

Course Equivalencies

If you want your overseas courses to earn a UAlbany course equivalency, bring a Course Equivalency Approval Form to each academic department for which you are seeking an equivalency. Available once you begin a program application, the form is used to assign upper division UAlbany equivalencies to courses you took abroad, as well as to apply courses to your major or minor. There is no deadline for submitting this form. You can have your courses evaluated for UAlbany equivalencies prior to your departure, while abroad, or upon return. It is your responsibility to submit a full course description and/or syllabus to the respective academic department(s) for each course.

Please note: overseas courses do NOT need any approval to count toward the total credits required for graduation. Courses with unassigned equivalencies are assigned a generic elective equivalency (general elective credits).

Registration

The Education Abroad office will register you for your UAlbany or Other SUNY program. You do not need to register on your own.

More information regarding courses and registering for study abroad are available under Academics.

PRE-DEPARTURE ORIENTATIONS

UAlbany’s required pre-departure orientation include THREE mandatory online sessions, each with its own assessment (online quiz) which must be passed successfully:

  • Mandatory Online Health & Safety Orientation
  • Mandatory Online Registration and Grades Orientation
  • Mandatory Online Money Management at Home and Abroad Orientation

In addition to the mandatory online orientation sessions and assessments, each UAlbany administered program will also have a program-specific orientation meeting (in person, online, or by phone) led by the UAlbany Education Abroad program coordinator. Students participating on a program administered by another campus (Other SUNY or Non-SUNY program) must contact the administering campus regarding any program-specific orientation.

PASSPORT

All participants must have a valid passport. If your passport will expire within six months of the program end date, you are encouraged to apply for new one immediately. The processing time for a passport is approximately 4-6 weeks. Current timelines for routine and expedited service and information on passport requirements is available on the United States Department of State website.

VISAS AND RESIDENCE PERMITS

Depending on your host country’s entry requirements, you may need to apply for a student visa or residency permit.

A visa is a stamp in the passport that allows you to enter a country for a specified period. Usually, you will apply for a visa prior to departure. Without this stamp, you may be turned away at the border. A residency permit is something you may need to apply for upon entering the host country.

To learn more about student visa and/or residence permit requirements, please visit the United States Department of State website. It is your responsibility to comply with the visa requirements of the host country. Depending on the country, the visa application process can take up to three months to complete. The application process can be unpredictable so it is a good idea to start the process early.

Your Program Coordinator will advise you regarding specific visa requirements and process for your host country upon acceptance to a program.

GENERAL STUDY ABROAD TIPS

Stay informed: Read over your acceptance materials and check your email often.

Talk to your family: Be sure that they know about your plans for the upcoming term; including the program costs, your budget, the dates that you will be abroad, and so on. Consider submitting a FERPA waiver form, available at the Office of the Registrar, which allows us to share information with your parents.

Get your travel documents together: It is your responsibility to make sure that you have obtained the necessary travel documents prior to departure.

Plan for your program expenses: The costs of each program vary by program type, length, and location. Be sure to read the program costs carefully and to check the budget sheets for information about cost of living, as well as expenses that are not included in the billable total cost. This information is located in the individual program pages. If you are thinking about increasing the amount of aid you take out for the semester, be sure to talk to the Office of Financial Aid.  Look over our Finances page for more information about funding, scholarships, and the withdrawal policy.

Cancel your housing and meal plans: Once you have received official word of your acceptance from the UAlbany and your Host Institution, you should go ahead and cancel your housing and meal plan. While abroad, remember to register for classes and secure your on-campus housing for the semester you will be back at UAlbany. Your course and housing registration processes will be the same as they are on campus and will follow the same deadlines.

Review the Health and Safety information and complete your mandatory Online Health and Safety Orientation located within your study abroad student account.

Conduct independent research: You should read all that you can about your destination. You can read guidebooks, non-fiction, newspapers, explore internet sites, and you can even talk to an AIR (a returned UAlbany student).  Also, take some time to read about Culture Adjustment.

MONEY MATTERS ABROAD

Local Currency

In general, we suggest carrying only a small amount of U.S. dollars to your overseas destination. It may be advisable to obtain a small amount of foreign currency prior to departure for immediate incidentals upon arrival such as taxis, tips, food, etc. You can order small amounts of foreign currency from a commercial bank or AAA prior to leaving the U.S. (allow a few weeks processing time). Check with your bank for this service. Alternatively, you can obtain it at a currency exchange window in the airport upon arrival.

It is a good idea to know the official currency used in the host country and of the approximate rate of exchange to the U.S. dollar. You can find the current exchange rate for most international currencies at a website such as www.xe.com.

Debit or ATM Cards may be the most convenient way to obtain cash overseas especially using ATM cards with the VISA or MASTERCARD logo. Be sure to check with your bank or visit www.visa.com or www.mastercard.com for information about ATM machine locations at your destination. Remember, depending on your bank, there may be an international transaction fee or currency conversion charge each time you withdraw from the local ATM.

Credit Cards may be the most convenient way to make purchases overseas and can be useful in case of emergencies. Most student travelers should carry a minimum of one debit card and one credit card. Visa and MasterCard are very widely accepted around the world; American Express is less commonly accepted, too. Discover is rarely accepted abroad. Be careful about taking a cash advance on a credit card, as fees and interest charges can be very high and can start accruing immediately.

Important Tips When Using ATM/Credit Cards Abroad

You should always contact your bank and credit card companies to let them know you will be abroad for “x” amount of time and visiting “x” countries. Verify the following:

  • Will the card work overseas? (Will a new card or a new PIN be necessary?)
  • Will fees be charged for withdrawals and/or purchases in foreign currency?
  • Alert the security department that you’ll be using the card overseas to avoid having it frozen or canceled! (Specify your travel dates and destinations.)

The money withdrawn abroad will be in the local currency.

Ask your bank about daily spending limits, rates and fees for international use of your cards, and possible locations of your bank or its affiliate branches abroad.

Leave a photocopy of both sides of credit and debit cards at home so if necessary, you can quickly report any card problems and initiate the replacement process if a card is lost.

Opening an Overseas Bank Account may be an option, depending on your program, destination, and length of stay overseas. Banking regulations vary, but research the possibility and cost of opening an overseas bank account with travelers’ checks, international bank check, wire transfer, or money order. Personal checks from the U.S. are normally not accepted overseas OR could take months to clear and involve high fees.

Tips on Financial Security Overseas

  • Don’t carry a lot of cash
  • Use a money belt
  • Don’t keep all sources of money in the same place; carry only what you need
  • Consider appointing someone you trust as your power of attorney to act on your behalf on matters that you specify (e.g., financial paperwork, depositing checks, paying bills, etc.)

HEALTH ABROAD

International Health Insurance

As a participant in an education abroad program, all students are enrolled in a mandatory international health insurance plan, which will provide you with service and protection in the event you become ill, or injured during your program. The cost is included in your education abroad charges. Prior to your departure, you will receive an insurance card along with a description of your benefits and covered medical expenses. Specific information on how to use your insurance abroad is included in your online Health and Safety Orientation, available after acceptance to a program.

Doctor’s Visit and Vaccinations

You may need to make an appointment with your family doctor or university health center to review your medical history and make sure you get the right vaccinations and medicines for your destination. You should be up to date on all routine vaccinations required for study in a New York State school measles/mumps/rubella, and polio, etc.), and should discuss with your health care provider vaccines which might be advisable. Before you study abroad, you will want to make sure that you have received routine health check-ups from your dentist and any specialists.

Medications and Prescriptions

If you take a medicine regularly, make sure you have enough for the length of your trip or make plans to have it sent from home. Do not assume that you can get the same medications in the host country. Some medications may be illegal to import to certain countries — this includes some behavioral health medications, stimulants, amphetamines, etc. Information on what medications may not be allowed into a country can be found on the health insurance provider’s website.

Bring copies of your prescriptions and a statement of the diagnosis requiring your medications with you when you travel and keep all medication in its original packaging. Bring a spare set of glasses and enough contacts to last the length of your stay, as well as your lens prescription. Pack a travel health kit with over the counter medicines so you can treat any minor ailments yourself. Remember to bring what you need to prevent sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy.

Helpful Outside Resources

SAFETY ABROAD

Your health, safety, and well-being is our primary concern. For most students, the experience of studying abroad will not result in a crisis.  The more prepared you are for emergencies; the better you will be to respond. In the online Health and Safety Orientation, as well as at the pre-departure orientation, you will learn how to manage your safety abroad. In the event of a political, social, or natural emergency, the CIEGS risk management team will be in close contact with the on-site director or host institution. Overseas program staff, Resident Directors, and UAlbany Education Abroad staff make every reasonable effort to keep abreast of local conditions and changes in local health and safety risks and to inform participants of these changes.

More information regarding safety abroad is included in your online Health and Safety Orientation, available after acceptance to a program.

CIEGS Emergency Contact Information

Most emergencies are best managed by working with local authorities and your program support staff abroad.

In the event of an emergency, the staff at the CIEGS Education Abroad office can be reached during business hours by calling 1-518-591-8172. After business hours (nights and weekends), please contact University at Albany Police by dialing 1-518-442-3131.

AlertTraveler App

The UAlbany Education Abroad office uses the AlertTraveler app as part of its action plan to create a study abroad environment that is as safe and secure as possible. AlertTraveler is a mobile application for iOS and Android devices that utilizes GPS and your travel itinerary. AlertTraveler provides you with country and city intelligence to help you make informed decisions while traveling, safety and security alerts to let you know of any events that could potentially impact your travel or safety, and an instant check-in option allowing you to report your status back to the UAlbany Education Abroad staff in case of an incident.

Student Conduct

When you study abroad, you are a guest in a foreign country, as well as a guest of a foreign academic institution. For your own safety, ensure that your behavior and dress conform to the laws and norms of your new host country, as well as the policies and regulations of the institution where you are studying.

All travel should be restricted to authorized vacations and periods before and after the academic sessions. The host university is responsible for any disciplinary action to be taken in connection with violations of its rules and regulations, and UAlbany will also be notified.

International Laws

As soon as you enter a nation, you become subject to all of its laws, even if you do not know what they are.  You should avoid all political activities and demonstrations. In many nations, penalties for convictions on drug use or trafficking can be very severe.

If you engage in an illegal activity while abroad, the U.S. Government cannot offer you any protection. Consular officials cannot intercede with local authorities on your behalf. However, should you encounter any legal difficulties while abroad, contact the nearest consulate for assistance immediately. The U.S. consular officer can provide you with a list of local attorneys and contact your family or friends.

Helpful Outside Resources