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Office of International Programs

Pre-Departure

Find everything you need to know before traveling abroad.

Enjoy your trip!

General Pre-Departure Information

Our guidebooks include everything you need to know before you go including academic and financial policies; packing advice; health and safety information; tips for booking flights; advice for budgeting abroad; tips for adjusting to a new culture, and more!

IP also prepares detailed program information for all our international Approved Semester Programs, which we will send to students after the orientation. The program partner institution or organization, or faculty/staff program leader (for field studies and summer programs) will provide you with additional information as well.

While traveling always involves risk, we consider it our role to minimize these risks and help our students have safe and successful experiences. IP Staff pay close attention to world events through news sources, the State Department, OSAC, our partners abroad, and our professional community. We regularly assess our programs for health and safety, provide health and safety training for our program leaders, and have fully developed protocols for any health and safety issue, from the very minor to a large-scale emergency.  

Health Insurance

All students who have registered for a study abroad program or travel experience through International Programs have coverage through EIIA and World Travel Protection for emergency medical expenses, medical evacuation and repatriation, security and natural disaster evacuation, trip cancellation/interruption, and lost/stolen checked baggage. This coverage applies during the dates of the Rollins-sponsored or affiliated travel outside your home country as well as during personal travel directly preceding or following the dates of the Rollins-sponsored or affiliated travel. You may also have additional coverage or access to healthcare through your specific program provider or host country/institution. More information about this coverage and exclusions is available in the Pre-Departure Guidebooks. 

 

Additional Resources 

Some prescription medications (most commonly those prescribed for ADD & ADHD) are illegal in certain countries and some countries have very strict requirements for bringing medications into the country. Medications that are illegal or not approved could be confiscated upon arrival. You should research the legality well before travel to allow time to either apply for approvals  and/or to discuss with your prescribing doctor to plan for alternatives during your time abroad. Our insurance coverage (details in your pre-departure handbook) has information about the legality of different medications abroad or you can search for “bringing prescription medications to XX country” to find the relevant government website. Contact IP if you have questions about traveling with medications – we have a lot of experience advising students about this!

Apply for a passport as soon as you decide to study abroad since it can take up to 12 weeks to get one. Already have a passport? Check the expiration date: if it expires less than six months after your return date, you must renew your passport. For more information about U.S. passports and to download and complete passport applications and renewals, visit the official U.S. passport website.  

 

Your passport is your most important legal document while you are abroad, so be sure to keep it safe. Review the advice in the Predeparture Guidebook for tips on managing your passport during study abroad. 

Office of International Programs Visa Policy

While IP staff can provide basic advising and assistance relating to the visa process (help look up web sites, instructions, etc.), it is ultimately the student's responsibility to obtain the necessary paperwork and complete required steps to apply for a visa (if needed) for study abroad. IP staff will provide students with visa support letters when required. 

Visas

A visa is a sticker or stamp that is inserted into your passport and allows you to enter another country and stay there legally. You normally apply for a visa BEFORE travel, though on occasion you will apply on entry or once in country.  Most visa applications require multiple steps and several documents: typically, you will need a flight itinerary (showing return ticket), bank statements, and a letter of acceptance from your host institution and/or home university. For most countries, students cannot start the visa application process until 90 days prior to departure. To find out if you need a visa, what kind of visa you need and how to apply for it: visit the website of the consulate in the US for your program location.   

International Students:  If you’re an international student, you will most likely have a slightly different process for your visa application. Students who are not U.S. citizens must verify their visa status on the consulate website for the country where their program is based. You’ll also need to secure (and check the expiration) of your re-entry visa. In some cases, international students can apply for the visa from the US; in other cases, it’s better to apply from the home country. In both cases, it depends on the timing—i.e. when you are leaving the US at the end of the semester and when you will need your visa for study abroad. Make sure to start researching early so that you can make an informed decision.  

Visa Tips

  • The best visa resource is the website of the relevant embassy or consulate. Check the website before beginning the process to ensure you fully understand the requirements and do not run into any obstacles.   
  • The visa process can vary from consulate to consulate. For example, the Italian Consulate in Miami may ask for different forms than the consulate in NYC. Make sure you review the specific consulate website. Find out if you need to apply in the jurisdiction where you go to school or where your permanent residence is located. For example, if you are applying for a Spanish visa, and you attend school in Florida but live in New York, you need to know if you are applying to the Miami consulate or the NYC consulate.   
  • Research the average time it takes to process a visa. It may take as little as 2 weeks or up to 12 weeks
  • Many visa applications require an in-person visit to the consulate for an interview. This may be located outside of the area where you reside. You must be prepared to travel to the consulate, which may incur costs for hotel, gas, bus, train etc.  
  • Consulates generally have very limited open hours to receive phone calls. Mornings are best to try to reach someone and usually email is more effective in terms of response time, though expect responses to take several days 
  • If an appointment is required with the consulate, book your appointment well in advance! Appointments fill up fast and it is often not possible to book an appointment only 1-2 weeks in advance. If no appointment is required, arrive as early in the morning as possible and be prepared to stay in line until it is your turn. Once you meet with someone, it usually only takes a short time for them to review your documents.  
  • When applying for a visa, whether in person or via mail, you must surrender your physical passport with your application materials.   
  • It may seem strange to share personal information like bank statements, but please submit the requested information exactly as asked or you risk not getting your visa.  
  • Each type of visa has specific stipulations. In many instances, students are not allowed to work if they only have a student visa. If you wish to intern or work while abroad, make sure you do the necessary research, and find out the appropriate information to obtain the correct visa.   
  • Visas can be costly and can range from $40-500 -- this varies by country and visa type.  
  • Make sure you monitor your e-mail carefully and constantly so that you do not miss any necessary information for obtaining your visa: sometimes a consular officer may contact you for updated or additional information that you can fax, scan, or mail over.  
  • It may be possible to use a visa processing service/agent. There is often an additional cost for using a visa processing service/agent and it may not be possible for all countries

International travel is valuable, but it comes with an environmental costOne roundtrip flight from Orlando to London generates 4300 pounds of CO2, or about 10% of the average American’s annual carbon footprint We encourage students to consider the environmental impact of their time abroad and do what they can to give back. Below are steps you can take to make your study abroad experience as sustainable as possible.  

  • Buy a carbon off-set. Dozens of organizations allow travelers to “off-set” their carbon emissions by donating to fund projects focused on protecting the environment. Use their calculators to see the carbon footprint of your flight and how much it will cost to offset it. It’s more affordable than you might think: a roundtrip flight from Orlando to London only costs about $30 to offset. Sustainable Travel International is one place to purchase offsets.
  • Fly direct when possible. Fewer flights equal fewer emisions as planes use the most fuel on take-off and landing.  
  • Pack as lightly as you can. The heavier your luggage is, the more fuel it takes to move it. 
  • If you need something for your trip, like a winter coat or a power converter, try to borrow it from a friend or buy it secondhand instead of purchasing a new one. 
  • Opt for bus or train travel whenever possible. Not only is this usually cheaper than flying, it produces a fraction of the carbon.  
  • Say NO to single-use plastic. Travel-size toiletries create a lot of waste. Instead, buy reusable travel bottles and fill them up at home.   
  • Think ahead to avoid single-use plastic: pack a reusable water bottle, a travel silverware set, cloth napkin, and a grocery tote.  
  • Stay in locally-run hostels or bed and breakfasts -- it's much more sustainable (and cheaper!) than staying at a hotel.   
  • Eat local and avoid chain restaurants. Not only is this sustainable, it will probably taste better, too!  
  • At the end of your program, if you leave items behind, try to donate them rather than throw them away. 
  • Buy locally-made goods and souvenirs.   

Employers rank highly skills and attitudes you can gain through study abroad. To maximize your global learning and development , you will need to build competence in five critical areas—Immersion, Intercultural Awareness, Global Skills, Global Empathy, and Reflection.  Below are some ways you can maximize your  experience and work towards these competencies! 
 

Immersion 

  • Attend events put on by your study abroad  program  or  university  such as quiz nights, cooking classes, walking tours, , weekend excursions, and other social events to meet and interact with local students and culture.   
  • Join a student club, organization, or intramural sports team while abroad to meet and interact with locals  

 

Intercultural Awareness 

  • Stay informed on the news and current events happening in your study abroad location  
  • Take advantage of volunteer or service opportunities offered by your partner program. to learn about local social issues.  
  • Don’t be afraid to talk about your own culture, Most likely, locals will have questions about your home country and be interested in sharing their own opinions and thoughts.  

 

Global Skills 

  • Learn the local language  
  • Conduct research and/or fieldwork on a locally relevant topic to continue developing  

 

Global Empathy 

  • Visit museums and visitor centers (both large and small) to learn about important art, history, and other cultural insights  

 

Reflection