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Preparing for the Program

>> The “Study” Part Starts Now
>> Education Abroad vs Education at Miami
>>Accessibility
>> Passports/Visas
>> Involve Your Family
>> Housing
>> Communication While Abroad
>> Travel Tips

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The “Study” Part Starts Now
Learning as much as you can about your location and program in advance is a great way to get the most out of your experience. Remember - you will be living in another place for an extended period of time so it is important to research as much as you can about the new life you will be living. 

  • Start researching about the history, politics and current events, pop culture, etc., in your new host country. Helpful sources include guidebooks, and websites such as Kwintessential Country Profiles. Consider reading a local news source.
  • Attend the pre-departure orientation sessions organized for your program. Review the pre-departure information provided by your program.
  • Prepare for different health environments and risks. Purchase international health insurance unless provided as part of your program. See more information at (link to health and safety).
  • Research the local culture and every other culture you may visit. 
  • Review Miami's Student Resources.

 TIPS

  • Set a “Google Alert” to monitor the web for new content about your location (city or country or both).
  • Learn simple phrases in the local language. “Hello”, “thank you”, “excuse me” are good starts of building a polite language base.

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Education Abroad vs Education at Miami
There are inherent differences in the course(s) taken during a study abroad/away program and those taken here on campus. The differences can make the learning more interesting, but can also be a challenge. The new academic environment - which could offer instruction from international professors with different approaches to teaching, or offer more experiential learning opportunities - comes with the added distraction of being in a new and exciting place. Be sure that you are setting yourself up for academic success during your program because study abroad is first and foremost an academic experience.

  • Set academic and personal goals for your experience
  • Think through the challenge of balancing the study component of study abroad with the abroad opportunities provided
  • Be prepared for a new academic environment - do research on what to expect
  • Begin working on getting transfer credits approved (transfer credit programs only)
  • Courses and assignments are often organized differently:
    • International instructors may approach teaching in new ways and expect different behavior from students
    • Local students have often specialized in academic content since high school – they may have more knowledge/experience
  • Note that accommodations made through Miami's office of Student Disability Services may not be available abroad. If this may have an impact on your ability to be successful in your program and the new environment, you need to communicate early and often with the Study Abroad office and the office of Student Disability Services. We can assist you in finding a program that can accomodate your needs.

Seniors: If you will be studying abroad as a 2nd-semester senior, request a waiver of the 12-credit residency requirement from the Office of the Registrar or your divisional advising office.

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Accessibility Statement
Miami University believes in providing reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities on an individual and flexible basis. If you believe that you would require adjustments in order to fully participate in this program, please contact the Student Disability Services at 513-529-1541 as early as possible in order to begin this dialogue. More information is available on the SDS website at http://miamioh.edu/student-life/sds/

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Passports / Visas
A passport is an official document issued by a government, certifying the holder's identity and citizenship and entitling them to travel under its protection to and from foreign countries. Passports must be valid 6 months past the date of re-entry to the USA after your study abroad program, so be sure to check your validity dates carefully and renew your passport if necessary. Standard processing time for a new or renewal passport is 4-6 weeks, so plan accordingly. You can learn more about applying for a passport on our Passport Services page.
 
A visa is official permission for a passport holder to enter another country for a specific length of time and for a specific purpose. For many countries, particularly in Europe, a stay under 90 days does not require a visa for US citizens - although different requirements can exist for citizens of other countries. Check with the US-based consulate of your study abroad country, your program director, the provider or a study abroad advisor to make sure your location does not require a visa. Ultimately it is the traveling student's responsibility to ensure they have the legal right to enter the study abroad country.

If you are an international student, note that you have additional requirements related to your US visa as well. Learn more at online, or contact International Student and Scholar Services with questions.

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Involve Your Family
Be sure that you are ACTIVELY communicating deadlines, program details and travel plans with your family. The study abroad office regularly gets phone calls from parents telling us “My son/daughter didn't tell me...” - they are supporting you through this process and should be kept in the loop. We cannot always provide them with specific information about your participation in a program due to FERPA regulations unless you have a FERPA release on file.

Be sure to discuss:

  • Payment plans and due dates, and whether or not your scholarships can apply to the program you have selected
  • Travel arrangements and responsibilities
  • Academic plans and goals
  • Communication plan and contact information (local phone and address) for both you AND that of your program director
  • Generall itinerary and plans for weekend traveling

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Housing
Contact the Office of Student Housing and Meal Plan Services to inquire about campus housing before or after your return from the study abroad program. If you need to find a sub-letter for your off-campus housing or if you will be returning to campus and will need to find housing, you can make these connections on Miami University's Study Abroad Facebook page.

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Communication While Abroad:
Make a plan with parents/friends/significant others. You will not be as accessible while abroad because of changes in time zone, activities, and phone/internet capabilities. Set expectations before you leave - remembering that you may not be able to alert individuals about your safe arrival immediately. 

Cell phones While it may be possible to turn on the international voice and data capabilities on your US-based cell phone, doing so could be very expensive. You may want to consider purchasing or renting a local phone upon arrival to your program. Note: your program may provide them, or can give you advice on the best plan for your situation. It is usually cheaper to buy a phone abroad with a pay-as-you-go plan (this may vary). WiFi is often not as readily available abroad as it is in the US - don't expect to have internet access via your phone in the same way you do in the US. We strongly recommend that you have calling capabilities while abroad, especially in the event of an emergency.

Write down important phone numbers and keep them in multiple places in case you lose your phone. Remember, you may not have the same data capabilities while abroad so you will want to be prepared. 

Apps like Viber, Whatsapp, Snapchat, Skype, Facebook will let you talk/text family, friends back home for free while on WiFi. Make sure to download and learn how to use the apps before you leave the US - but keep in mind that WiFi is not as readily available or fast outside of the US.

Internet access varies greatly around the globe. Do not expect to have the same internet access in terms of availability and speed while abroad. Also remember that some countries (such as China) place significant limits on the websites that can be accessed. For example, Google and GoogleMail (including your Miami email) may not be accessible in China. Research and plan accordingly. 

Practice internet security when on public WiFi. Students can be easier targets for hackers. Protect passwords and personal information to reduce the risk of identity theft. All Miami students and employees have access to a Virtual Personal Network (VPN), which can provide more secure internet access and provide access to resources available through Miami's network. Learn more about VPN on the IT Services site.  NOTE: VPNs can be illegal or discouraged in some countries, do research before you go. 
 
If you do use social media, consider using #MiamiOHAbroad and #MiamiOH so the greater Miami community can enjoy your posts!

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Travel Tips

Money
Before you leave:

  • You may want to order some local currency through your bank.  Give the bank several weeks to complete this order.
  • Research your bank's ATM and credit card policy on foreign transactions and fees and apply for a new card/account as necessary.
  • Call your bank and/or credit card company and tell them which countries you’ll be traveling to including transit countries and those you may visit outside of your program. Failure to do so could result in your card being unusuable or frozen for fraud protection.
  • Have money accessible in multiple formats in case one fails (credit card/debit card/cash, etc.). Don’t keep all your money in one place (have a backup fund handy at your home base and when traveling).
  • Travelers’ checks are recommended only as an emergency fund and can be tough to cash in some countries.
  • Credit cards are more commonly used in some countries than others – a guidebook or program director can help you prepare for where you’ll need cash. Many countries are moving to chip+PIN, and cashiers may not be as familiar with our card-swiping system, check with your credit card company and see if you can upgrade your card.

At ATMs
Choose ATMs carefully.  Your program can advise on reputable ATMs and how to avoid the local scams. You may be charged a foreign transaction fee, a fee from your bank and a fee from the bank where you’re taking out funds.  Try to limit your withdrawals to limit these fees.

Packing for flights and living abroad
In your carry-on

  • Liquids/gels must be 3oz or smaller and in one quart-sized ziploc bag (larger containers can be checked)
  • Pack PJ’s/a change of clothes in case your flight or your checked bag is delayed, lost, etc.  Very common with lots of connections.
  • Don’t ever get separated from your passport or any medications you’ll need – make sure those are with you in the cabin or seat.
  • Eye mask and head phones/ear plugs, reading material for long flights.

In general

  • Check your airline(s)’s website to find out about baggage restrictions (how many bags, weight restrictions, and what you can’t pack)
  • Make sure your bags are labeled so that you can easily identify them (luggage tag)
  • Be sure that you can lift and transport your bags.  You may need to take them on/off public transportation or over cobblestone streets.
  • Multi-City: will you be traveling with luggage from city to city?
  • Pack your bags, take them for a walk around the block, THEN decide what you really need to bring along!
  • Small Appliances (hairdryers, shavers, etc.):  Buy them there or do without!  They will usually have different plugs and different voltage requirements and soon burn out.

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Study Abroad Office: 214 MacMillan Hall, 501E Spring Street, Oxford, OH 45056, studyabroad@MiamiOH.edu
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