Ferrum College students have the opportunity to study, participate in internships, and do service learning programs abroad in countries all over the world. Study abroad is a life-changing experience that opens so many doors for students professionally, academically, and in terms of personal growth, and we encourage every Ferrum College student to learn about the opportunities we offer.
We also recommend you make an appointment with Career Services to learn how best to leverage your study abroad experience when you apply for jobs or graduate school.
We welcome you to open these doors to learn more!
While Ferrum College does everything we can to ensure your safety by connecting with reliable, highly experienced partners, ultimately you are the person with the greatest control, and therefore the greatest responsibility, for your own well-being. While you can’t control everything, your decisions are important. You need to be aware of your surroundings, be familiar with emergency procedures, and make good health decisions.
Make sure you are informed about the places where you’re traveling. Do your research in advance so that you know the laws and current events, emergency numbers (911 is not the right number in other countries!).
Here are some resources to help you with that:
Make sure you stay active and eat well. Taste new foods, of course, but do everything in moderation. Be sure to get plenty of water, and check which water is safe to drink in your location. Use sunscreen and insect repellent as appropriate. Many students find that studying abroad involves more physical activity than they’re used to having at home, since you’ll probably be walking a lot and using public transportation. You’ll need to make sure that you have appropriate footware for this.
Some information on health from the World Health Organization can be helpful.
- Traveling itself can make you ill. It helps to take certain precautions when you’re on an airplane or a train.
- Take healthy snacks and sanitizing hand wipes
- Drink plenty of water
- Bring gum in case the altitude changes bother your ear drums
- Try to stretch, or to clench and unclench your muscles, especially your legs (but don’t bother your fellow passengers!).
- Sleep when you’re tired. Don’t be a hero and try to stay awake to adjust to a time zone. Just let your body take breaks whenever needed.
- Dress in layers. Airplanes can be very cold!
- Take eye drops with you. Airplanes are also very dry.
- If you’re on medication, make sure you take it with you.
- Get enough of your medicine to cover the time you’ll be abroad, and carry some with you in your carry-one bag.
- Keep all medications in their original containers with labels, and make sure all your prescriptions have the pharmacy’s label with your name on it.
- Before you travel, check if you need vaccines for the places you’re going, and make an appointment with your doctor to get those vaccinations before you go. Don’t assume your doctor knows what you need–research it yourself on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site.
- Make sure to inform our office and the study abroad partner’s office of any medical conditions or medical needs.
You need to take just as much care of your mental health as your physical health. Have all your medications with you (see above advice on medications) and inform those responsible for your program about any needs (our office and the provider’s office). Create an emergency treatment plan with the coordination of all responsible parties. Homesickness is normal, but that doesn’t make it easy.
Road rules are different in every country, so it’s important to be observant. In some countries, like the UK and some former colonies of the UK, people drive on left side of the road, so you have to be extra careful crossing the street. Also learn which taxi services are safe, which busses and metros you should use–this information should be provided in your orientation on site, but don’t be afraid to ask. The most important thing you can do to ensure your safety is pay attention to your surroundings.
Crime exists in every country, but it’s always important to take precautions, especially when in a new place where you’re going to be easily distracted.
- Keep your valuables secure and close to your body.
- Leave your passport in a secure location–don’t walk around with it.
- Keep a photocopy of your passport ID page with you in case you need it.
- Keep your credit card company’s contact information in case you lose it or it’s stolen.
- Pay attention to your surroundings.
- Don’t be out alone late at night.
- Don’t drink to excess.
- Stay in well-lit, populated areas.
- Avoid sticking out–try to dress similarly to local people.
- If you’re confronted by a thief, do not fight–just give them what they ask for and later report it to the police.
Drugs and Alcohol
Laws about drinking and drugs vary from one country to another, and fees or punishment can vary from lenient to very severe. Be aware of the local laws regarding this. Also remember that you are representing Ferrum College and the United States. You are a citizen ambassador and as such you are expected to behave appropriately. You can read up on Ferrum College’s drug and alcohol policy in the Student Handbook.
You’re especially vulnerable while you’re abroad because you don’t know local customs and aren’t always aware of your resources. Beer and other drinks can have a higher level of alcohol than in the U.S., and things like altitude can make drinks have a greater effect. Always be aware of your surroundings, stay with friends you trust, don’t leave drinks unattended, always carry emergency numbers with you… basically use your common sense.
If you do encounter problems, reach out to your host family or your study abroad provider. It’s better to get in a little trouble now than to endanger yourself in trying to avoid getting in trouble later.
- Meet with the Director of International Programs to help you put together a plan. In this meeting you will start to look at your study abroad options, and you will talk about next steps. This is a good time to ask questions, but don’t worry if you don’t think of everything at that moment. We will have plenty of follow-up meetings and you can bring up concerns at any time. Make an appointment now!
Find your program
Find the right program for you!
In your meeting, you will look at your options for studying abroad. You need to take into consideration when to go abroad, what kind of program, (summer or semester; coursework, internship, service learning, or research) and where you will go. Things you should take into consideration when making this choice:
- Academic requirements for your major, minor, or general education
- Athletic seasons
- Financial concerns
- Language requirements
- Career advantages
Meet with your academic advisor
Once you’ve narrowed your search, your academic advisor will be able to help you pick a program. Your advisor will also know when in your undergraduate career is the best time to study abroad. For some majors it’s flexible, for others there are specific requirements that are only available in certain semesters, while others require an internship that might be possible to do abroad. Each major is different so you need to have open lines of communication with the professors in your program so that they can support you and make sure you’re successful.
Apply for your passport and visas
Don’t leave this step until the last minute! Passports can take a long time to process, so do this early. Visas are necessary for most countries if you stay for longer than a certain amount of time (for many countries that’s thirty days). The visa process takes a while, and usually requires a visit to a consulate. Do your research so that you know what is expected. When you go for your visa interview, you will already need to have a passport in hand, and you will be required to bring various types of documentation and payment. It’s best to read carefully the consular requirements for the country where you will study so that you don’t have to scramble or take extra trips.
Meet with Financial Aid
At this point, you need to meet with the Office of Financial Aid. She will be the best suited to help you figure out what financial aid you’re eligible to receive from Ferrum College and from the federal government, and what costs are left so that you can make a budget. This is also when you start researching scholarships and noting down application deadlines.
Apply to your chosen program
You should go over the applications. Make a check list of all documents that are required and make sure you provide all the necessary information. Application essays should be checked first, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time for this step.
Apply for scholarships
This step really needs to be done at the same time as the one above. As soon as you apply for the program, you need to also apply for scholarships. Make an appointment with the Center for International Programs to go over your scholarship essays. You should apply for more than one scholarship to increase your chances of getting some help. Also keep in mind that you should be finishing your applications at least a month before the deadlines so that the office of International Programs and the Office of Financial Aid have time to certify and approve your applications.
You need to have all you courses pre-approved before you travel abroad. Meet with your academic advisor and Director of International Programs for more information. This is to ensure that you get credit for the courses you take while abroad, so it’s a very important step!
At this final stage, you should have all your applications in and you will have heard back from your program and from the scholarship providers. You’ve been accepted and you’re ready to go! You just need to make one more check with the Office of Financial Aid and Office of the Registrar to make sure your ducks are all in a row. You will participate in a pre-departure orientation with the Center for International Programs, where you will talk about things like health and safety, tips for travel, and how to pack. You will need to make sure you have filled out emergency contact and health forms. You can also set up your blog so that you’re ready to start posting as soon as you get to your destination.
Happy travels–you’re ready to study abroad!