American Students Attending School Abroad

What You Need to Know About Studying Overseas

More and more American students are exploring other countries during their college years by choosing to study abroad. Traditional destinations include the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, and France, and the adventurous American spirit leads many students to more exotic destinations, such as Russia, Japan Central and South America, and South Africa. You can determine which countries welcome American students by visiting the American Institute For Foreign Study (AIFS) website.

And if you think study abroad is not an option for you, you should investigate the possibility further. Most colleges and universities, even independent agencies, are committed to making international institutions of higher learning accessible to all students regardless of financial circumstances. Motivated students can also find plenty of study abroad scholarships and grants that can help cover their costs.

study abroad

Reasons to Study Abroad

Studying abroad is gaining in popularity, and the numbers of Americans studying in foreign countries continues to rise along with the numbers of foreign students found at American universities. The global economy demands that students rise above provincial limitations and enter business as citizens of not just the United States but also the world. The easiest, and most enjoyable way to appreciate another culture from a first-hand, in-depth perspective is to attend school in another country.

Foreign studies are a painless way to push yourself ahead of competitors, at school and in your future career, while pursuing your college education. There is no field in which immersion in the language and customs of another country will not lend you sophistication and an air of authority, and it's almost a requirement for fast-track success in businesses that demand global savvy.

For example, business majors are urged to spend some time overseas. The business world requires a multicultural mindset and the ability to think and act with a keen understanding of America's place as not only a world leader, but a member of the international community. Students that have studied abroad are valued for having taken the opportunity to represent the United States among citizens of other countries, and are considered assets to their companies even before they have accumulated any career experience.

Travel Documents: What You Will Need In Order to Travel

When you leave the United States, there is a checklist of specific documents you will need when leaving the country, when entering the host nation, and on your return journey. If you're accustomed to procedures for visiting Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean islands, this new process will seem quite formal, but acquiring the correct papers is in no way optional.

Here are some of the documents you may need to study abroad:

  • You'll need a passport to confirm your U.S. citizenship. You will need to allow a maximum of ten weeks for passport processing, so apply early. You can apply for your passport at any one of the regional passport centers on this page.
  • You will need an official birth certificate. To find the vital records bureau in your state of residence, you may consult this page of helpful links to state agencies.
  • You may also need a visa. A visa is a document provided by the country you're visiting that confirms your status as a legitimate traveling student. Your visa is usually carried with your passport. Check with the U.S. State Department to determine if you will need a visa for the country you plan to visit.
  • You'll need a plane ticket to get to your destination. You may have to show that you have a confirmed flight scheduled within your allotted time on your visa, so book your flight early.
  • Depending on where you're traveling to, you may need to show proof of certain vaccinations. You should schedule a doctor's appointment no less than one month before you plan to leave.
study abroad for us students

Packing for Study Abroad Programs

Find out what the climate is like where you will be studying so you can pack accordingly. Students who have traveled abroad before will tell you it's important to keep certain items in your carry-on baggage, primarily the following things:

  • Passport
  • Visa
  • Tickets
  • Glasses or contacts
  • Prescription medications
  • Cash

The motto for checked baggage is "Less is more." Pack as little as possible, because you will be able to shop when you settle in. The airlines will limit the amount of bags you may check, and you will probably have limited storage space in your residence abroad. However, there are a few essentials that you should remember to bring with you:

  • Student I.D.
  • Money belt
  • Proof of insurance
  • Backpack for day trips
  • Prescriptions
  • Camera
  • Gift (if you're staying with a host family)
  • Doctor's note (required to prove you're free of certain diseases if traveling to the United Kingdom)

Your most valuable reference for travel information is the State Department's student travel site.