The Study Abroad Process: An Overview

A brief overview of the study abroad process:

Application process:

  1. Research all the information you can about your program options: attend info sessions, visit your university’s study abroad office, and talk with program directors and peer advisors. Take note of application deadlines, GPA requirements, and prices. Start planning one year in advance, or at the minimum one semester before you want to depart.
  2. Classes: What sort of classes will you need to take while abroad? Do you need to fulfill major/minor courses, GE requirements, or elective units? Is there a foreign language you want to learn or practice? These will factor in to your available options.
  3. If you still have a lot of available options, consider what type of place you would like to be in: a big city? A small town?
  4. Once you’ve selected a program, gather the required documents and send your completed application.


  1. Apply for a passport if you do not already have one.
  2. Apply for housing (more info on housing options later).
  3. Select classes and confirm with your home university that these courses will transfer.
  4. Apply for a visa, if required. Apply early.
  5. Visit your physician and research any medical requirements or recommended vaccinations.
  6. Attend pre-departure orientation.
  7. Purchase flight.
  8. Provide photocopies of important documents for family (such as the information page of your passport).
  9. Inform your bank that you will be abroad so that your card/account will not be frozen. Apply for a new card if necessary.

Arrival in new country:

  1. Attend an additional orientation if offered by your program/university.
  2. Move in to housing.
  3. Purchase or rent a cell phone, if needed. I strongly recommend having a “real” working phone, whether it’s your own or a rental. Pay-as-you-go is usually the cheapest option.
  4. Attend program and classes.
  5. Take chances, get out of your comfort zone, have new experiences, travel often, and have the time of your life. Make all of your friends jealous back home.

Return to home country

  1. Possible experience of reverse culture shock.
  2. Transcript sent to home university; check with your university to ensure successful transfer of credits.
  3. Apply to work in your university’s study abroad/international office, and spread the word about studying abroad and going global! (Hint: Students Gone Global is always looking for campus reps and interns!)

Related post: How to Make the Most of Your Time Abroad



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