Once you have made the commitment to global study you have a lot to do to get ready! Some of the preparation is mandatory like going to the CGE Send Off Session and getting a passport -- while others may only be necessary depending on your destination -- like a visa or immunizations. The more you know about the place you are going before you go the better your experience will be. This section is full of resources that will help you prepare.
Have I Changed My Plans?+
If you have decided to study abroad during a different semester, or if you have decided not to study abroad, you must tell the Center for Global Education. If you do not alert the Center for Global Education to your changed plans, you will be unable to register for your semester at Gettysburg.
Course Approval Process+
When you applied to your study abroad program, you submitted a Course Approval Form on-line that outlined what courses you hope to take abroad. For some students, the courses you have listed will be the courses you take abroad. For others, and perhaps the majority of students, you will end up taking only a few of the courses you listed on your Course Approval Form.
Many programs will be posting their most current course lists on their web site at this time of year. In order to help you plan your study abroad course schedule as accurately as possible, you should plan to get a few more courses approved now that you have a better idea what will be offered. All students should have at least three extra courses approved than they will actually take. This means that if you are planning to take four courses, you should have at least seven courses approved - many students will have ten or more courses approved!
Past study abroad students have cited that doing the Course Approval Process once you are overseas is the WORST part of study abroad, because the student needs to know if a course is approved quickly, and Gettysburg professors who approve the courses are not always available with short notice. PREVENT THIS by getting extra courses approved before you leave! More information about how to get courses approved when you are abroad is found in the section entitled Courses Approvals from Abroad.
Students participating in Affiliated Programs will receive credits AND grades for the courses they take. All grades will show on your Gettysburg transcript (A - F) and they will be factored into your Gettysburg GPA.
All courses taken on Non-Affiliated Programs are transferred to Gettysburg as credit ONLY, assuming you receive a C- or better. If you receive a grade lower than a C-, you will not receive credit for the course. Grades on Non-Affiliated Programs are important, however, particularly for those students whose GPA at Gettysburg makes them eligible for graduation honors. In these cases, grades from Non-Affiliated Programs will be factored into your overall record in order to assure you maintain your honors eligibility.
Students participating in Non-Affiliated Programs must refer to the following chart in order to determine how many Gettysburg Course Units you will receive: Semester programs for Non-Affiliated Programs
Only 2 Semester Hours of Credit = .50 Gettysburg Course Units
3 Semester Hours of Credit = .80 Gettysburg Course Units
4 Semester Hours of Credit = 1.00 Gettysburg Course Units
5 Semester Hours of Credit = 1.25 Gettysburg Course Units
6 Semester Hours of Credit = 1.50 Gettysburg Course Units
If your program does not use Semester Hours as the unit of credit, please see the Registrar before you depart for advice on how many courses you need to take abroad. It is very important that you do not assume that one class abroad counts for one Gettysburg Course Unit, as this is often not the case!
S/U Courses Off Campus+
Students off-campus wishing to take a course S/U must check with their program to see if the program has an S/U policy. If so, that policy must be the same as Gettysburg College; students must receive a C- or better and the program must list the course as S/U on the transcript. Please remember Gettysburg’s policy of taking no more than two S/U courses per year and all courses must be electives.
Forwarding Your Mail+
While you are abroad, the Gettysburg College Post Office will forward any first class mail and magazines to your home address. They will not forward campus or second class mail. If you have any questions about your mail, please contact the campus post office.
Housing Arrangements For When You Return To Campus+
Every spring, housing selection occurs for the following academic year. Housing selection processes for 2015-2016 will begin February 2015.
If you are studying abroad you will be able to select your OWN housing online (if you are not applying to live in Spark (theme) housing or off-campus housing). With the online housing system, students will need to pre-select each other as roommates prior to selecting a room or apartment. (Instructions regarding this part of the process will be distributed with lottery numbers and lottery times in March and April.) When doing so, the online housing system will confirm that all roommates have selected one another--and students now become a group. Only the student with the lowest (best) lottery number and earliest lottery time will need to select housing for the group via the Online Housing Selection system.
If you are studying abroad during this process and your lottery number will carry a group to select housing, you can select for your group via "MyHousing" in CNAV, or you may select a proxy here on campus to select housing for your group. Lottery numbers are not transferable, and in the event where you need to have your proxy select housing for your group at the appointed time, you must email Sharon Fissel email@example.com
As mentioned previously, the Office of Residential & First-Year Programs will be publishing additional information about the online housing selection process March 2015. When you receive this information via your campus email, you will also be able to log onto CNAV/MyHousing to:
Should you have any questions, please contact the Office of Residential & First-Year Programs.
International Student ID Card (ISIC)+
The International Student Identity Card offers a variety of benefits to study abroad students. For instance, students with an ISIC are eligible for reduced airfares, discounts on museum entrances and other sightseeing admission fees. The cost for the ISIC is approximately $22.00 (subject to change), and it can be purchased through STA Travel by calling 1-800-692-3130 or you can purchase on-line.
Please note that some programs will supply you with an ISIC card as part of the program fee. Therefore, you should check your program material before purchasing a card.
If you are participating in an Affiliated Program you will pay the Off-Campus Study Fee for Affiliated Programs to Gettysburg College. This fee is equivalent to the cost of a semester on-campus at Gettysburg College, and it is paid by the same process as a normal semester payment, regardless of the actual cost of the program. While specific arrangements vary, this Off-Campus Study Fee for Affiiated Programs will cover tuition, room and board for your program and you will also receive a flight credit.
If you are participating in a Non-Affiliated Program you will pay the cost of the program directly to the institution sponsoring the program. You will pay no tuition, room or board to Gettysburg during the term off campus. Institutional aid does not transfer, but Federal aid and, in some cases, State aid does. You will be billed by Gettysburg College for a Off-Campus Study Fee for Non-Affiliated Programs that covers the administrative services provided by Gettysburg College as well as a study abroad insurance fee.
You will receive a Payment Understanding form by email soon clarifying this arrangement. You will be asked to sign and return this form stating that you understand the financial arrangements for your program.
Acknowledgment of Risks+
The Acknowledgment of Risks form describes the risks associated with overseas study. All students will receive this form by email as well. Students are required to sign and return this form in order to participate in a study abroad program. If you have any questions specifically about this form, or generally about the risks associated with study abroad, please speak to the Center for Global Education and/or your particular program sponsor prior to signing this form.
Good Academic and Social Standing+
All students approved for off campus study, must continue to be in good academic and social standing and have a 2.0 cumulative GPA in order to study off campus. The Center for Global Education runs a report to ascertain that all students are in good academic and social standing at the end of each semester. If a student has been placed on academic or social probation between the time they were approved for study abroad, and the time they plan to participate in a study abroad program, their right to participate will be rescinded. Questions about this can be directed to the Center for Global Education.
Financial Responsibility and Withdrawal Policy+
All study abroad students must be in good financial standing with Gettysburg College in order to participate in a study abroad program. The College may withdraw a student from their study abroad program for failure to pay College charges.
Any student who decides not to participate in a program or becomes ineligible to participate in a program, after already confirming their participation in the program, is responsible for all costs paid on their behalf prior to their withdrawal.
Any student who withdraws from a program after arriving at the program site is responsible for the full cost of the program (tuition, fees, room, board, and any other incidental expenses) as if they participated in the entire program.
In the event of a cancellation of an off campus program, special arrangements will be made.
As a Gettysburg College student, you are expected to act with a high level of responsibility and maturity at all times and this expectation extends and, indeed, increases when participating in an activity taking place off campus. In addition, by participating in this off campus activity you are serving as an ambassador of Gettysburg College. Your actions reflect not only on yourself, but on Gettysburg College as well. Therefore, you must make a special effort to serve as a good ambassador and representative of the College.
While abroad, you must continue to abide by all the policies included in Gettysburg College’s Student Rights and Responsibilities or See a PDF Version. Any actions which violate these policies and take place while you are off campus will be addressed at the off campus site by the Faculty Director or other representative. These actions will also be addressed through the College's judicial system upon your return to campus.
You have behavioral responsibilities and as a guest in another country, there are certain behaviors which are considered unacceptable and could lead to possible disruption of the program, and your dismal from the program. You need to act in an appropriate manner which does not infringe upon the customs and mores of the country in which the program is being conducted, nor upon the rights and safety of yourself or of other participants of the program. The use or possession of illegal drugs during the program or being knowingly present in instances of use or possession of illegal drugs during the program is cause for immediate dismissal from the program. Behavioral responsibilities are applicable during the entire course of the program, whether you are with your group or on your own. Should you be dismissed from your program, the return passage and the full cost of the program (tuition, fees, room, board, and any other incidental expenses) as if you participated in the entire program, are your sole and exclusive financial responsibility.
If you have any special needs or concerns that it is important for your program to know about, now is the time to talk to them or write them with this information. For example, do you have a learning disability, ADD, special medical needs, or special counseling needs? Do you have concerns about how your gender, race or sexual preference will be perceived abroad? Programs that know about your special needs and concerns prior to your arrival are best able to help you settle into your program successfully. If you are unsure with whom to speak, or if you want some advice about alerting your program to a special need or concern, please talk to the Center for Global Education for advice.
As a rising senior, there are a number of programs and information sessions that are geared toward you. Before you leave, take the time to stop by the Center for Career Development to learn about job search and graduate school assistance that is available to you. You can pick up handouts on resume and cover letter writing, conducting a job search, interviewing, the graduate school application and testing process, and more.
From the United States
A passport is an official document of identification issued to citizens of their own country and allows the individual to travel to and from a foreign country in accordance with visa restrictions. All study abroad students need a passport to enter into or return from any country in the world. The passport is the most important document a traveler has. You should keep your passport with you at all times when you are traveling. When you reach your study abroad destination, keep your passport in a safe place. You should also have a photocopy of your passport - kept apart from your passport - to assist you in the event that you lose your passport.
You can apply for a passport via the world wide web, at any federal or state courthouse, at most major post offices, or at a passport agency. Passport processing can take four to six weeks, but it is possible to get your passport much quicker if you are willing to go directly to a passport agency. Between March and August, there is heavy demand for passports. Passports cost approximately $140. More information about Passports.
If you already have a passport, confirm that it will be valid for the entire length of your stay. You can obtain an application to renew your passport at any of the locations mentioned above.
A visa is official permission to visit a country, granted by the government of that country. Visa requirements vary from country to country. In order to study in a specific country, you may need a special student visa. In order to determine if you need a visa for your study abroad program, you can contact the Embassy or Consulate of the country in which you will study. You can also check with your program sponsor or check the embassy website for the appropriate consulate (for example, if you are going to France, check the French Embassy’s Homepage in Washington, DC and/or speak to your program representative). It can take from one month to one day to process your visa. You will need to have your passport in order to apply for your visa. Do NOT delay getting a visa if you need one as students have missed flights due to delays in visa processing! More information is available on the CGE website. For students who are non-US citizens the visa process will be significantly different. It is essential that you start planning early and speak with the Gettysburg College Office of International Student Advising.
One of the most important parts of your preparation for study abroad, is to learn as much as you can about the country in which you will be studying and about your particular study abroad program. There are a number of resources that you can use to get this information.
How many past study abroad students have you spoken to that either studied in the country you will be studying in, or who studied on your program? Your program sponsor, or the Center for Global Education at Gettysburg can help you contact past participants. How often have you spoken to your program sponsor? They know your program best, and they can answer questions about program dates, orientation, travel arrangements, academic issues, cultural issues, and packing! Have you read any travel books or novels about your host country? Have you watched any movies or listened to any music from your host country? These are excellent ways to prepare yourself for this adventure. Don’t be hesitant to ask questions, and read about your host country before you depart. You will be thankful that you did!
Youth Hostels can prove to be a helpful money saving tool if you are planning to travel in Europe, and in some other parts of the world. Youth Hostels permit you to stay overnight in a dormitory style youth hostel for a modest fee. This arrangement is an ideal situation to meet other adventurous travelers. For this reason, hostels are a great place for single travelers. The facilities vary from place to place, but most include: dormitory style bunk beds (some offer singles, doubles and triples), dormitory style bathrooms, laundry facilities, linen rental service, breakfast (lunch and dinner are available at an additional cost), maps and travel tips. It is possible to purchase an International Youth Hostel membership, however, it is not necessary in order to stay in hostels in most countries. For more information on different hostels and their ratings and reviews, see Hostel World and Hostels.com.
There are many types of discount student travel passes. Most travel agencies will have information on the various passes that will be useful for the region in which you would like to travel. There are also many WWW sites available that explain the differences between the various passes. You can also ask your travel agent.
Although rail passes are the most common, there are also discount flight passes that are useful in countries like Australia, and even bus passes (cheaper than rail passes) for students who prefer to travel mostly in their host country! Seek advice from past study abroad students, travel agents, and the WWW to find the travel pass that is right for you!
There are many travel books available that will help you plan for your term abroad. Some focus on discount travel ideas, others talk about cultural issues, and others offer a combination of the two. There are many travel books sold at the Gettysburg College Bookstore, and there are also travel books available at the Center for Global Education that you can borrow. Some past study abroad students suggest the “Let’s Go” Series, and the “Lonely Planet” Series.
Before you leave, you should be sure to have a complete physical examination. Your program may require you to do this. Some countries require proof of good health in order to be granted a visa. Other countries require certain vaccinations to enter the country. Some vaccinations must be given as much as 6 months in advance of your departure. All students should consult the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Homepage on the World Wide Web for further information about specific geographic health recommendations. The CDC can also be reached by calling toll-free 877-FYI-TRIP. The toll-free fax number for requesting information is 888-232-3299. (NOTE: Any information available by fax is also available on this web site.)
The Gettysburg College Health Center can answer many questions you have about preparing for a healthy trip. You can contact the Health Center for an appointment by calling 337-6970.
All study abroad participants should consult with a healthcare provider who specializes in travel medicine for accurate, up-to-date pre-travel advice. To find out what immunizations you may need, consult the Traveler's Health section of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Additional information and International Certificates of Vaccination can be obtained from the World Health Organization. Be sure to let the health center or clinic know that you are inquiring about medical preparations for study abroad and advise what vaccinations you need when you make an appointment. Medical providers may need to order some vaccines and will need time to obtain them.
It is very important that you have health insurance that covers you adequately while you are abroad. Some students are currently covered by an insurance policy that will cover them abroad, but there may be special requirements that you should know in advance. For example, how will you pay for medical assistance since most insurance companies will reimburse you for medical expenses rather than pay bills up front? Some insurance plans do not cover overseas travelers at all. In all cases, you should determine exactly what you need to do to use your insurance while you are abroad.
Some study abroad programs provide health insurance as part of the program fee. Please read your program materials to determine if your program offers insurance.
Medical Evacuation/Repatriation Insurance+
The vast majority of U.S. health insurance programs do not include medical evacuation and repatriation coverage, which is an additional concern for study abroad students. Medical evacuation insurance is coverage that pays for the additional costs associated with moving patients from one city to another, or one country to another for medical treatment. Repatriation insurance pays the cost of returning someone’s remains to the U.S. if they die overseas. While discussions of this kind are not easy, they are clearly important. Gettysburg College has a medical evacuation/repatriation insurance policy that covers the costs of medical evacuation and repatriation in the event of such an emergency. It is required for students to have medical evacuation and repatriation coverage while abroad whether it is through Gettysburg College, your study abroad program or your own policy. Information about the Gettysburg study abroad insurance is sent to each student, and the cost of the insurance is automatically billed directly to each student’s account. The cost is currently $36.00 per month. You can waive Gettysburg’s coverage if you have equivalent coverage through your program or on your own by completing the Medical Evacuation and Repatriation Waiver form (PDF). If you currently have Gettysburg College student health insurance, this portion is covered under this policy and you will not be charged the additional $36.00 per month while abroad. Please contact Mary Ann Remaley at 717-337 6069 if you have any questions about this insurance.
If you currently take prescription medication, you will want to plan ahead for your semester abroad. Medication cannot be shipped to you from overseas.
Be sure to have your doctor in the U.S. write out any standard prescriptions which you use, citing the generic name and chemical composition of the medication. This includes your allergy medicine, gynecological prescriptions, etc. Oftentimes, medication is called different names in other countries, but the generic name will help a doctor fill your prescription more easily, should you need more medication when you are abroad.
You may also want to have your doctor prescribe substitute or alternate prescriptions in case your exact medication is not available overseas. You should also write down the generic name of your medication(s), as medical practitioners in other countries may not be familiar with brand names used in the US.
People who have medical problems which are not easily recognized (diabetes, allergic reactions to antibiotics or bee stings, heart conditions, epilepsy, etc.) might consider obtaining a medic alert identification tag. This tag is internationally recognized. Check with your doctor or hospital to see how to obtain one.
Some countries restrict certain medications entirely or limit the amount you can bring with you in-country. Be sure to confirm that your medication is allowed in country, and if so, how much you can have with you upon arrival. Additionally, be sure to always carry your medications in the official, labeled container you receive from the pharmacy.
Once you have met with your physician and obtained a prescription that will last for the duration of your stay abroad, contact both your pharmacy and insurance provider and alert them to your travel plans. Your pharmacy may need to verify the prescription with your physician, and in some cases special order your medication(s) so that it will be in stock just before you leave. When calling your insurance provider, ask for a “vacation override”. Once this override is put in place, you will be able to buy your prescription(s) at your normal monthly copay rate. If this is not done ahead of time, you may need to pay the out of pocket cost which can be substantial. Be sure to make these arrangements at least two weeks before your departure as the process can be complicated and lengthy.
In addition to health insurance, many travelers will purchase travel insurance. This extra coverage will cover things like flight cancellations due to airline strikes or lost luggage, etc. There are many options to choose from regarding travel insurance, please check with your current insurance company or call CGE (x6866) for more information.
Please see this excellent article by Rick Steves, the travel writer, about travel insurance- including trip cancellation insurance, things to watch out for, and links to the most common travel insurance companies.
Every year hundreds of young travelers are arrested in foreign countries for illegal possession, use, or trafficking in drugs. Some countries are stricter and more severe in their treatment of those arrested on drug-related charges, but even reputedly liberal countries contribute to these statistics. Remember that you are subject to the laws of the country you are visiting. Your government, and Gettysburg College, is completely powerless should you be arrested in another country on drug charges. DON’T use drugs.
Not knowing local laws can get you into serious trouble. Just because something is legal in the United States doesn't mean it is legal in the country of your choice. Most students who study abroad do not break the law on purpose; instead, they end up doing something illegal without knowing it. Even as a foreigner, you must obey all a citizen of the country of your choice laws and the laws of other countries to which you are traveling.
If you break local laws while in the country of your choice, the U.S. government can do very little to help you. You are granted no special privileges or rights, and will be dealt with according to standard procedure of the legal system of the country of your choice. The U.S. and a citizen of the country of your choice governments encourage all visitors to the country of your choice to become familiar with local laws before they visit. Upon arrival in the country of your choice, you may also wish to ask a citizen of the country of your choice official about local laws and procedures. Remember, most students who study abroad wind up breaking the law unintentionally, and alcohol or drug use has been associated with law–breaking in many cases.
For more complete information on a citizen of the country of your choice laws and the a citizen of the country of your choice legal system, visit the official website of the U.S. Department of State.
Gettysburg College encourages students to explore all parts of our world. At any given time, countries may be placed under a US Department of State Travel Warning due to specific risks associated with travel to that country. If a student wishes to apply to study in a country under a Travel Warning, Gettysburg College requires the student and family to sign a secondary waiver acknowledging and accepting these additional risks prior to departure. If a student is studying in a country when a Travel Warning is issued, the student will need to sign a secondary waiver on site and return it to Gettysburg College or the student will need to make arrangements to return home immediately. A current list of countries under a USDOS Travel Warning is available here:
State Department Travel Warnings+
The State Department regularly publishes up to date travel warnings that may be pertinent to your travel plans. For the most recent travel warnings see the Worldwide Caution.
There are many different ways to handle your money while you are abroad. Following are some options that you may wish to consider:
BANK CARDS: Bank Cards offer a convenient, inexpensive way to access money overseas. The rates charged by banks for using an ATM abroad are very low, and the exchange rate used is often the best rate available. Most countries have ATM’s just like the ones here. If you have a bank card, ask the bank that issued the card whether your card can be used to access money in the country to which you are traveling. Often, banks can even give you the closest ATM location to your particular program site. Most ATM’s around the world are on either the CIRRUS or the PLUS network. If you see CIRRUS or PLUS written on the back of your card, you will be able to use that card internationally. In some cases, foreign ATM’s might only accept four digit pin numbers. You should check with your bank to make sure your current pin number will work overseas. In addition, credit cards with chips (transmitted magnetic strips) are becoming more common. While this is still not currently available in the US, if your bank offers chip credit cards, it would be helpful to take advantage of this card. Bank cards are particularly useful as many countries have very limited banking hours, and bank cards give you 24 hour a day access.
CHECKING ACCOUNTS: Although it may not be called a checking account, all countries have some sort of a checking account system. Opening a checking account allows you to write checks, establish credit and deposit money, but it does have some drawbacks. You will likely pay a fee for opening the account and it may have a monthly service fee. You may have a limited number of checks you can write per month, or you may have to maintain a minimum balance. If you choose to open a bank account, make sure you choose a bank that is used to handling international money transfers.
TRAVELERS CHECKS: Travelers checks are often a good way to handle money in your first few days abroad. You can get traveler’s checks in U.S. Dollars, or in the currency of the country to which you are traveling. You can use them for purchases, or to exchange for currency at a bank. There is usually a charge for exchanging traveler’s checks at a bank. The major advantage of traveler’s checks is that if they are lost or stolen, they can be replaced.
CASH: It is advisable to take some currency of the country to which you will be traveling with you. Most major banks in the U.S. either carry foreign currency, or can order it, for a fee. Having some cash on arrival will allow you to pay for a taxi, or to buy food right away, without having to exchange a traveler’s check. The disadvantage , is that if it is lost or stolen, it cannot be replaced. Do not carry large amounts of cash - students recommend taking the equivalent of between US $50-$75. It is not advisable to have cash sent to you through the mail while you are overseas.
CREDIT CARDS: Visa and MasterCard are accepted in most any country in the world. American Express is quite widely accepted as well. You can use credit cards for purchases, as well as to get a cash advance in most banks - although you will need a pin number for a cash advance. Call your credit card company before you leave the U.S. to find out how widely accepted your particular card is in the country to which you will be traveling.
You are probably wondering how in the world you are going to fit everything you want to bring for your stay into two suitcases, and one carry on piece of luggage. It's not as hard as it sounds. It would be nice to take your whole wardrobe, but it isn't necessary. What is necessary is that you pack clothes that will be useful in your new environment, and that you are comfortable wearing. The following suggestions are useful to consider as you pack:
Some people advise not to pack anything which you can buy in your study abroad country. This includes toiletries, school supplies, film, towels, etc. You should bring enough toiletry articles to last for the first few weeks, but beyond that, you should try to “buy local”. The name brands might be different, but the overall ingredients are the same. That's what is so much fun about traveling abroad; you get to try all new products!
Don't fill your suitcases. You will quickly notice that none of the countries which you will be visiting are as concerned with clothing as we are in the US. In most countries, people wear clothes until they are dirty, rather than changing clothes every day. You will also want to buy clothes abroad. Whatever you purchase abroad has to get home somehow!
Pack versatile, sturdy, easily interchangeable clothes that are appropriate for that country’s climate. Take clothing which will last through some heavy use. Some people suggest taking older clothing which you can leave behind at the end of your term abroad. Also, do you really need a coat, or can you wear layers of shirts and sweaters? Will you need your swimsuit? An umbrella? Good walking shoes?
Remember to pack a little bit of yourself in your luggage. Your new friends will want to see pictures of your family and friends, as well as pictures of Gettysburg College, and your hometown.
Past students have made the following list of important things to pack:
-Photos of your home, friends and family
-contact lens solution (it is hard to find!)
-simple medication - cold medicine, Pepto Bismol, etc.
-Sturdy, comfortable walking shoes
-Money belt + Some destination Currency
-iPod, MP3 Player or other music electronics
-Extra photos of yourself to use for visa and rail passes
-Gifts if you are living with a host family
-A few dressy outfits for special occasions
-A journal to write in