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Preparing to go abroad

The Global Education Office is here to help you prepare for a safe and transformative study abroad program. The content below is intended to assist you in planning for a meaningful experience abroad as you get ready to depart. It includes important travel guidance, information on cultural preparation, and identity-specific resources.

All travelers need to review the critical safety and health information available on our Global Safety Page here.

You’ll need to make an effort to understand the new culture, as well as your own culture, in order to better adapt to your new environment and make the most of your study abroad experience.

Read our Cultural Preparation Handbook for critical information on: 

  • Knowing Your Host Country
  • Knowing Your Home Country 
  • Knowing Yourself
  • Culture Shock 

… and more!  

*Handbook is currently being updated. Check back soon.

As you travel, you’ll experience the intersections of your identities in new and different ways than you might here in the U.S. Part of the deeply rewarding experience of study abroad is seeing ourselves and others through a new lens as our own worldview, values, and identities come into juxtaposition with the worldviews, values, and identities of a new community and culture.

Below are resources to help you navigate your study abroad experience as it relates to aspects of your racial, ethnic, sexual, social, religious, socioeconomic, educational, and professional identities. 

I identify as: 

Asian, Asian American and APIDA 

Black, African American and Afro-Latino

Female 

  • The Women’s Center at Virginia Tech offers regular programming, support on gender-related and women’s issues, and resources to maintain Virginia Tech’s status as a safe, welcoming, and inclusive campus for everyone.
  • The Canadian government created a database for women, called Her own way, to utilize while traveling abroad.
  • JourneyWomen has testimonies from women who have traveled abroad about what is culturally appropriate to wear in certain countries.
  • Transitions Abroad offers multiple articles written by women who have traveled abroad about how to travel abroad independently as a woman.
  • Diversity Abroad compiled a list of questions for women to ask themselves before studying abroad and tips for how to study abroad safely.
  • The U.S. Department of State compiled information for women who are traveling abroad.
  • Diversity Abroad offers articles for multiple identity groups on student experiences while studying abroad. They have multiple articles on women’s experiences.

Latinx and Hispanic

  • El Centro is Virginia Tech’s Hispanic and Latinx Cultural Community Center and offers many important resources and opportunities for Virginia Tech students
  • A comprehensive guide developed by Diversity Abroad for Latinx students to utilize while preparing to go abroad.
  • GoAbroad created a free ebook and travel guide for Latinx students filled with travel tips and personal stories.
  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness created a page breaking down mental health stigmatization in Hispanic and Latinx communities and offers multiple mental health and self care resources. 
  • Reasons why Hispanic and Latinx students should study abroad.
  • A blog post written by Maritza Torres describing her experience as a Latina studying abroad.
  • A testimony from Natalie Leon from North Carolina State University describing her study abroad experience as a first-generation Latinx student.
  • Diversity Abroad offers articles for multiple identity groups on student experiences while studying abroad. They have multiple articles on students of color’s experiences.

LGBTQIA+

Religiously affiliated

First-Generation

Veteran

 

Top 10 Tips For Preparing to Go Abroad:

  1. Make sure your on-campus life is squared away before going abroad. Plan what you need to do for your living arrangements in Blacksburg well in advance of your departure (this is important for students with on-campus and off-campus housing).
  2. As soon as you know that you want to study abroad, start the process of obtaining or renewing your passport! If you also need to obtain a visa for your study abroad program, start that process relatively early as well.
  3. Double, triple, and quadruple check that you have ALL of your important documents ready for your study abroad program. Make copies of your documents to bring with you in case you need back ups, as well as copies to keep at home.
  4. Figure out how you will primarily spend money in your host country, whether it's through cash or with credit/debit cards. If you plan on using credit/debit cards, contact your bank prior to your study abroad program to discuss using your cards overseas.
  5. Set a daily or weekly budget plan for yourself when abroad and consider in advance the costs associated with your study abroad program, which could include transportation, meals, communication (phones/internet), entertainment, and more. Connect with the Financial Wellness Office for budgeting guidance.
  6. Talk with your family and current provider about what would be the best option for using your phone abroad, as there are multiple options to consider.
  7. Consider looking over what insurance plans and legal actions may be beneficial for your study abroad program.
  8. Check with your specific study abroad program before booking any flights, as some programs may offer group traveling options.
  9. Read the specific policies for your airline and make sure that you understand what you can and can not bring to your host country.
  10. Take care of the little things, including canceling subscriptions and forwarding your mail to family and friends, as well as the not so little things, such as making sure all of your tax responsibilities are squared away, before traveling abroad!

Preparing for Travel Playlist: 

Review our Hokie Travel Guide here for other important tips on preparing to leave Blacksburg, cancelling housing and dining contracts, important travel documents, setting up phone and financial resources abroad, and more! 

  WHAT

  HOW

  WHEN

NECESSITY

Application

Check application procedures

Deadlines vary per program

REQUIRED

Registration
Register with the Global Education Office only if going on a non-VT program for credit Right after being accepted into your program 

REQUIRED

Authorization to take Courses Abroad

Submit form if transferring credit back to Virginia Tech (does not apply to faculty-led programs)
Submit prior to departure (right after your course selection)

REQUIRED

Global Education Financial Aid Form
Submit if you have scholarships or financial aid that you want to apply to your study abroad program 
Deadlines (March 1 for summer programs, June 1 for fall programs, Nov 1 for winter & spring programs)

REQUIRED

Contractual/Consortium Agreement

Submit if you have scholarships or financial aid that you want to apply to your study abroad program (does not apply to faculty-led programs)
Deadline will be listed in the email you receive from the Global Education Office when they send you the forms 

REQUIRED

Scholarships

Check resources if you can apply for any scholarships
Deadlines vary per scholarship provider

RECOMMENDED

Submit all required forms Login to your My Study Abroad account to complete all forms  Deadlines (May 1 for Summer programs, August 1 for Fall programs, December 1 for Winter & Spring programs)

REQUIRED

VT Global Travel Assessment (VT-GTA)

Can be found on your My Study Abroad account. For non-credit programs request form from vtglobalsafety@vt.edu Deadlines (March 31 for summer & fall programs, Oct 15 for winter & spring programs)

REQUIRED

Pre-Flight Orientation

Attend the mandatory Pre-Flight meeting (does not apply to faculty-led programs)

Check GEO website for exact dates

REQUIRED

Passport

Obtain / renew and make sure it’s valid at least six months after your return to the U.S.

See the video below.

Apply at least 6 months prior to departure

REQUIRED

Visa

You need a passport to apply for a visa at your host country’s embassy / consulate in Washington D.C.

See video below.

Apply at least 4 months prior to departure

REQUIRED

CISI Medical & Security Insurance

Also enroll if going on a non-credit program (submitting a waiver is only possible if going through a Third Party or if going to your home country)

See video below.

Deadlines (March 31 for summer & fall programs, Oct 15 for winter & spring programs)

REQUIRED

Risk Management
Review U.S Department of State website frequently to get timely information about developments in your host country. Enroll in STEP (The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program)

 

RECOMMENDED

Air Travel

Arrange for your plane ticket (if applicable). Also arrange for transportation to and from airport if applicable. Check airport customs and airport security
Wait to buy a plane ticket till after you’ve been accepted into your program and you’re sure you’re going

REQUIRED

Cancel VT Housing and Dining Contract
Hokie SPA (Housing and Dining Services menu)

 

REQUIRED

Health

Find out here if you need to get immunizations / vaccinations. Get a medical check-up. Make sure you have enough prescription medication for your time abroad (if applicable)
4–6 weeks before departure (many vaccinations require at least 14 days to become effective and some require multiple trips to the doctor)

REQUIRED

Copies of documents

Make a set to take with you, and leave a set with a trusted family member / friend

 

RECOMMENDED

Money matters

Provide your bank with your travel dates and all country destinations. Have multiple sources of money available (cash in local and U.S. currency and a credit card). Check if your cards and PIN numbers work abroad

 

RECOMMENDED

Additional Travel Preparation

Phone for abroad, taxes, power of attorney, additional insurances, International Student Identification Card, packing

 

RECOMMENDED

Cultural Preparation Research your host country to better adapt to your new environment

 

RECOMMENDED

Tuition and fees      
Pay your Virginia Tech tuition (if applicable)
Check e-bills on Hokie SPA for deadlines REQUIRED

Video Gallery

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Passports, Visas, and Insurance

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Money Matters

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Preparing for your absence