Once you have been approved to study abroad and admitted to your study abroad program, you will need to begin to plan for your semester abroad. As you prepare to study abroad, you will find that there are many details you must pay attention to and a list of things "to do." Completion of these items is absolutely critical to ensuring that you have a safe experience abroad and are well-prepared to take full advantage of the experience. By applying for and committing to a study abroad program the student acknowledges the responsibility to complete the following items.
Attend a Pre-Departure Orientation
Dates for future pre-departure sessions for the Spring and Summer 2017 terms will be posted by September 1, 2016.
A passport is necessary to travel abroad and to obtain a student visa. If you don't already have a passport, you must apply for one immediately. If you do have a passport, it must be valid for up to 6 months upon the date of your return from your study abroad program.
Please allow plenty of processing time for your passport. Usually it takes approximately 6 weeks to process, though during busy seasons, it may take longer. In an emergency it can be expedited for an additional fee.
For more information on passports and to complete an application you can stop by The SPOT on campus in the breezeway of the John T. Washington Center.
A visa is an endorsement stamped on your passport by foreign customs officials that allows you to visit that country. It can be obtained from foreign consulates in the U.S. or in other countries and is issued for a specific purpose, such as work, travel, tourism or study. Even if you are only planning to travel for a short time, some countries require a visa, especially if you're traveling in Asia or Latin America. Many types of visas exist based on country and type and length of visit.
Visa application requirements, procedures, and processing times will vary based on location of study. All students studying abroad should conduct the necessary research to determine if a student or travel visa is required, although the UCF Abroad office will provide assistance with this process as well.
Tips on Securing a Student Visa
- Start gathering required documents for a student visa application the moment you are accepted to a program.
- Each consulate sets its own timeline for accepting and processing applications. Know the earliest and latest dates an application can be submitted. Typically, you may not be allowed to apply more than 60-90 days before the program begins.
- Student visa requirements, processes and even deadlines can change suddenly, so submit the application at the earliest date the consulate will accept.
- Follow all requirements given by the consulate. Arrange application and accompanying paperwork in the exact order instructed.
- Make copies of all documents.
- Students often need to apply for a visa in person at the Consulate or Embassy. Please make the International Programs Office aware if you are having a difficult time getting an appointment with a consulate.
Once you have secured the appropriate visa for your study abroad program, the UCF Abroad office asks that all students confirm their visa status and government documentation by completing the corresponding questionnaire in the student application. Please note that, students seeking to travel to another country without the required visa documentation can be refused boarding for their departure flight. This is an important part of the planning and preparation process.
Most study abroad programs do not include airfare in the program fee. Nevertheless, the Financial Aid Office considers the cost of getting to your destination to be part of the cost of your semester(s) abroad. So your financial aid may cover the cost of your airfare. However, you are responsible for purchasing your own ticket, and this usually must be done several months before any financial aid is disbursed. In other words, you may have to cover the cost of your ticket up front, then wait to be reimbursed by financial aid.
Importantly, students should always wait to make any flight purchases until asked to take action by the appropriate program contact. Once booked, all study abroad students are asked to log their flight information, as well as their confirmed transportation from arrival airport to accommodations, in the appropriate questionnaire in the student application.
What to Pack
Packing strategies and suggestions for your travels will vary depending on a number of factors including location and time of year. More information on this topic is provided during the required pre-departure orientation sessions hosted by UCF Abroad.
- Pack one suitcase, one carry-on, and one personal item. Checking more bags will result in excess baggage fees. Check with your airline for more information on luggage.
- Check your airline’s weight and size restrictions. An overweight or oversized bag can also result in baggage fees.
- Ensure all of your portable electronics are charged so they can be turned on. New safety regulations may require you to turn on laptops, tablets, or cell phones while going through security.
- Consult the Transportation Safety Administration website at www.tsa.gov if you have questions about what you can and cannot pack.
- Pack your passport and any valuables (such as electronics, phones, etc.) in your carry-on bag.
- Bring copies of your passport, visa, and credit cards and leave a copy of each at home with your parent or guardian for safety reasons.
- Wear appropriate travel clothing: shoes you can easily remove, layers for unpredictable climates, etc. Be sure to check the weather in your final destination before you arrive.
- Do some research on the electrical voltage in your host country. Generally, newer electronics that can be charged and store energy require only an adapter. However, small appliances such as hair dryers or electric razors will usually require converters. When used without a converter, such appliances may be a hazard to you or the circuit. It is better to buy such appliances once you arrive abroad.
- Do not bring excessive toiletries or beauty products - most countries will have similar or equivalent products available, so do not waste space in your suitcase.
- Leave room in your suitcase for items you may bring back!