Steps to Study Abroad

Faculty-Led Study Abroad: Faculty-led programs are usually short-term programs (a few weeks or a month)  and often offered in the May mini-semester. Faculty-led programs are an excellent Study Abroad experience for most students. They are shorter and less intimidating than an entire semester abroad by yourself, but they still offer all the benefits of traveling. You also get an opportunity to get to know your professor better and learn more about their research and travel interests, as well as meeting JSU students you might not have had the chance to meet before.

Direct Student Exchange: Exchange programs are more challenging but also more rewarding. They tend to last at least six weeks and are usually an entire semester. Students usually go alone, and there are no JSU faculty or staff at the other university. Exchange programs are partnerships between universities, so JSU students will not be entirely alone or without support. The exchange university you choose will be prepared for you and will have many other American students studying
there as well. You will get an amazing opportunity to live in another country and make friends from all over the world.

Some programs require prerequisites, minimum GPAs, or recommendations from your professors, and some only require that you are interested in participating. Some are only for certain majors or minors, and some are open to everyone.

Check with the Office of International & House Programs, or the faculty member leading the program, or your advisor.

Once you know what you have to do and when, set deadline and due date reminders in your phone, start saving money, ask your family and friends for help, and commit to making this opportunity a reality!

Study Abroad programs are like other classes – you have to register for them and pay your tuition and fees on time in order to register. Also like other classes, Study Abroad programs have to have a minimum number of students participating for them to happen. So, be sure you meet with your advisor on time and get your account in good order so you can register for the program you want. Your advisor will also be able to help you make sure your Study Abroad class counts toward your graduation and that you’re still on track to graduate on time.

For some Study Abroad programs, you’ll be entering countries where you have to have proof that you’ve been vaccinated against certain diseases. Some programs might require proof of a health screening to show that you’ll be able to complete all the activities the program requires.

Different countries have different laws, and while you are a visitor there, those laws apply to you. American citizens are required to follow the local laws and customs of countries they travel to, even when they are very different to laws at home. You should speak to the faculty leader of your program, the Office of International House & Programs, and other students who have travelled or are planning to travel to the country you plan to visit to find out what laws are different from those of the US.
You should also be aware of what is considered “normal” socially in the country you’re planning to visit. Big things like laws and small things like table manners are all good to know when you are travelling.

Your faculty leader and/or the Office of International House & Programs will have mandatory orientation meetings, assigned readings, different forms for you to sign. These meetings and activities will play a big part in how successful you are in getting everything ready for your Study Abroad program, participating in the program, and using what you learned in the program to your advantage after you return.

You must have a passport to leave the country.
Information on Applying for/Renewing a Passport

Your passport can’t expire within 6 months of your expected return, so double check the expiration date and renew your passport if it will expire soon.

Visas are travel documents that go along with your passport to let you enter a country. Sometimes they are required and sometimes not. The faculty leader or the Office of International House & Programs will be able to tell you if the country you’re planning to visit requires entry documents or not.

If you have a disability, life-threatening allergies, chronic health problems, or routine medications, you have to prepare for your trip. All these things can be affected by stress, changes in diet or exercise, changes in air quality, or lots of other things that you often don’t consider when you’re thinking of going on a trip. But it’s important to plan ahead and take good care of your health so you can enjoy your Study Abroad program.
You will need to pack all the doses of your medication that you will need (plus some extras just in case). You’ll also need to discuss the trip with your doctor to see if they have any advice or warnings for you. And, you’ll need to talk to your faculty leader and/or the Office of International House & Programs so that, in case of emergency, they’ll be able to help you.
It is important to be honest about what’s going on with your health and what support or care you’ll need if something goes wrong while you’re travelling. Remember that your health and a successful Study Abroad program are more important than temporary embarrassment or an awkward conversation. You can always send an email instead of having these types of conversations face-to-face.

It is important that you understand the deadlines and due dates for all the fees and expenses and make sure that you plan ahead to make payment on time.

Be sure you can afford your plane tickets, hotel room, food, tuition, and fees and have a little left over to buy souvenirs or gifts. It may seem like too much, but don’t be discouraged. There are many scholarships and grants that are designed to help students study abroad. If you want help finding or applying for these, or if you want help finding ways to save up to study abroad, the Office of International House & Programs will help you.

Study Abroad opportunities are available yearly, so even if you are not able to go this year, you can start saving and preparing now for a trip next year.

Health and Safety

This should be one of your top priorities so as to avoid an adverse effect on the amount you learn, how much fun you have, and what you take away from your experience. Staying healthy abroad is not difficult; you have to make smart choices. Find the balance between having a great time, enjoying the foods, seeing the sights, and staying healthy.

Tips on staying healthy

  • Make healthy food choices
  • Take the time to get exercise
  • Walk or bike as much as you can
  • Go out dancing
  • Join an intramural athletic team
  • Ask around for the best and safest running trails, parks or circuits
  • Watch your food portion control
  • Practice safe sex to protect yourself from STDs
  • Go easy on alcohol
  • Find out if water is safe to drink in the countries in which you will be drinking.

Safety may not be your biggest worry however; you must be aware of some inherent risks in travelling, studying, working, and living abroad and you have to be prepared for them. You must always think about personal safety and plan to avoid any risks and danger.  

Tips for staying safe

  • Take health and safety precautions before you leave the United States
  • Familiarize yourself with local laws and don’t break them
  • Practice smart safety always; don’t put yourself in dangerous situations
  • Get to know your new neighborhoods and locate necessities: banks, food stores, hospitals, post offices, laundry, Internet café
  • Stay Healthy
  • Use Common sense
  • Stay calm and make decisions carefully
  • Stay informed about local news
  • Guard against petty theft and pickpockets
  • If something unfortunate does happen, seek professional guidance and assistance

Source: A Student Guide to Study Abroad by: Stacie Nevadomski Berdan, Allan Goodman, Sir Cyril Taylor GBE

Travel Plans

You must have a valid passport to travel. Completing an application to obtain a passport may take time and certain documents such as proof of citizenship, birth certificate, or photos of a specified size. Renewing, replacing, or updating your passport will also require some time, so you need to check the information on your passport to make sure everything is accurate.
It is advisable for your emergency contact in your family to obtain a valid passport so that he/she could travel abroad to attend or assist you in case of emergencies.

A visa is an official stamp, seal, or document affixed on your passport that permits you to enter the country you are travelling to. You must check the visa requirement for the country you are travelling to and make sure that you obtain the required visa stamp prior to your departure from the United States.

If you are making your own travel arrangements, make sure to check the departure city, arrival city, and preferred airline. You also need to look into transportation from the airport to the destination. Make sure to have a copy of the tickets to travel.

It is advisable to apply for housing and confirm the housing options before your departure from the United States. Make sure to have the housing confirmation with you.

If you are participating in a direct student exchange program, make sure to keep a copy of the acceptance/admission letter issued by the host institution when you travel.


A free program offered by the Department of State that allows U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate in order to make themselves easier to get and keep in touch with in case of emergency.