Traveling Abroad: Tips For Students

Traveling abroad is a huge opportunity for students these days. They have the option of completing a semester in another country, or gaining valuable work experience overseas. Of course, foreign travel also comes with its fair share of worries and risks. However, with sufficient advance planning and precautions, students and parents can ensure that the trip goes smoothly and safely. Read on to learn more about heading abroad as a student.

Learn As Much As Possible About the Countries In Which You Plan to Travel or Study

The first step is to research various destinations. Try to avoid countries where war and riots are on-going or likely to break out. While researching, find out about languages, customs, traditions, dress codes, and laws. All of this will help to prepare you and help you to fit in better.

  • How to Research – Several government websites offer plenty of background information into travel destinations.
  • Research Resources – This great list of resources includes magazines and websites for learning more about your destination.
  • What to Look For – Information to research about a foreign destination includes laws, customs, required documents, maps, and more.

Obtaining Passports and Visas to Travel, Study, and/or Work Abroad

In order to travel abroad, students will need a passport and (in most cases) a visa. Make sure to apply for these well in advance, since there can sometimes be delays in obtaining them. Visas are only valid for a certain period of time, so before applying you should have an idea of how long you will be away. To apply, you will need a completed application form, official ID, proof of your citizenship, and payment for the processing fee.

  • Official Documentation – Students definitely need a passport for international travel, and often a visa as well.
  • Getting a Visa – Read some common questions about visas and how to apply for one.
  • Passports and Visas – Find detailed information about obtaining or renewing your passport or visa.

Medical Insurance and Evacuation Insurance in Case of Emergency Abroad

All sorts of things can go awry, wherever you are. If you happen to be far away from home, it is best to be prepared with a solid insurance policy. Medical insurance can help cover unexpected costs. In case you need to be evacuated in an emergency, evacuation insurance can take care of that too.

  • Study Abroad Insurance – Find out what to look for in an insurance policy for students who will be abroad for a while.
  • Researching Travel Insurance – It is helpful to discuss insurance requirements with a travel agent or insurance company before purchasing a plan.
  • Types of Travel Insurance – Learn about the different types of travel insurance and whether you might need them.

Know the Location of the Nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate and Register with Them

U.S. embassies and consulates were set up in order to help U.S. citizens in other countries. As soon as you arrive at your destination, you should register with them. This will let them know that you are present there. If any problems crop up later, it will be easier for them to assist you.

  • How to Register – Registering yourself at a U.S. embassy upon arrival makes it easy to obtain help later if necessary.
  • Where to Get Help – The U.S. embassy or consulate offices are open to citizens traveling abroad in case they need help.
  • U.S. Embassies and Consulates – The U.S. government maintains a list of the websites (with relevant contact details) of all of their embassies and consulates abroad.

What U.S. Consular Officers Can and Cannot Do to Help U.S. Citizens

A U.S. consulate can do a lot to help U.S. citizens who are in trouble. For example, if your money or passport are stolen, the consulate can help citizens to contact local authorities or issue a new passport. They can also provide contact details for legal aid. However, a consulate cannot release U.S. citizens from foreign prisons, provide legal representation, or offer money for legal fees.

  • How Consulates Help (PDF) – U.S. consulates can help people obtain further help when required.
  • Rights and Expectations – If a U.S. citizen is arrested abroad, the local consulate cannot demand their release or pay for bail.
  • Contacting a Consulate – U.S. citizens can contact a consulate abroad if they had financial, medical, or even legal problems.

General Precautions for Traveling or Studying Abroad

In many countries, travelers are often targeted by thieves and other criminals. Students can avoid this by dressing like the locals and avoiding tourist hot-spots. Before leaving the U.S., see a doctor for a general checkup and any required vaccinations. Women should be especially careful since Western clothing like tank tops and shorts are seen as very offensive and provocative in conservative countries. In general, it is best to be cautious and avoid risks in order to stay safe.

  • Health Concerns Abroad – This website offers comprehensive resources on managing health and preventing illnesses while abroad.
  • Tips on Staying Safe – Students can stay safe abroad by avoiding pickpockets, tourist traps, and risky situations.
  • Safety for Women Abroad – Female students should take special care in avoiding trouble and adhering to local dress codes while traveling.

Travel Benefits for Students

Learning a new language isn’t the only way in which students benefit from foreign travel. Spending time abroad helps to open their eyes to different ways of living and thinking. It can encourage them to develop new skills and interests. Of course, one of the most lasting effects of travel is the new friends and connections that they will make.

  • Studying Abroad – Learning a new language and being exposed to other cultures are just a couple of ways in which students grow through studying abroad.
  • Students Speak Out – College students explain how they benefited from studying or working abroad.

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