Pre-Departure Checklist 

The pre-departure phase is crucial to your success abroad. It’s an important time for preparation, reflection, and goal setting. As always, your advisors in the Office of Study Abroad are happy to help as you prepare for your term abroad.

Wesleyan Requirements

  • Complete pre-departure forms in ViaTRM
    Once you commit to your program on ViaTRM, you will have access to a series of pre-departure forms under the Forms tab. These forms must be completed by the assigned deadlines.  
  • Complete Wesleyan’s pre-departure orientation

    All outgoing students are required to complete a series of online pre-departure modules through Moodle before their program begins. The Office of Study Abroad also conducts optional in-person pre-departure sessions every fall and spring semester. The Moodle link and dates for the optional in-person sessions will be sent to you through ViaTRM message.

  • Understand Wesleyan’s housing policy for study abroad returnees

    Students who choose to study abroad in the fall do not participate in housing selection the spring before they leave. When students return to campus in the spring, they are assigned by Residential Life to vacant spaces, unless they choose to apply to program houses that have vacancies.  

    Students who study abroad in the spring can participate in housing selection for the following fall.

    Should you have any questions about on-campus housing and study abroad, please contact Residential Life at reslife@wesleyan.edu.

  • Request reasonable accomodations
    If you have a documented learning, physical, sensory, health, or psychiatric disability, you are able to request reasonable accommodations through Wesleyan Accessibility Services to ensure access to education, housing, meal, and co-curricular activities during your time abroad. These requests should be made prior to your departure.  

Travel Logistics

  • Obtain a passport or renew your current passport

    A passport is a travel document issued by a national government that certifies one’s identity and nationality. Your passport should be valid for the extent of your term abroad plus six months. 

    If you need to acquire a passport or get your passport renewed, you should do this ASAP because passport processing can take several weeks. Please note that there is a fee associated with ordering a passport. U.S. citizens can learn more about obtaining a passport at travel.state.gov 

  • Obtain a visa for your host country

    Depending on your host country, your country of citizenship, and the length of time you'll be abroad, you may need to acquire a visa. A visa is typically a sticker or stamp that goes inside of your passport. The visa, granted by a consulate or embassy, confirms that you are legally allowed to study in a specific country for a set amount of time.  

    Each country has a unique visa application process, and this is something your program provider should walk you through. Most countries require that you apply at a consulate or embassy in a particular U.S. city. Sometimes this means driving, taking a train, or flying to your visa appointment. Generally, Wesleyan students can visit the consulate/embassy closest to their university (typically NYC) or their home address. Check with your program provider and your host country’s consulate website for detailed instructions.

    Each country also sets their own visa fees. If you receive Wesleyan financial aid, your host country’s visa fee will be factored into your financial aid award.  

    It’s normal to feel stressed as you embark on this (sometimes lengthy) visa process, but you’re not alone! Reach out to your program provider for support. 

  • Make photocopies of your important documents

    You will want to make two photocopies of the following documents, one to leave at home, the other to keep in a secure place abroad:

    • Passport identification page (page with your photo) 
    • Visa page within your passport and any other immigration documents 
    • Airline tickets 
    • Driver’s license 
    • Credit and ATM/bank cards 
    • Contact information abroad (addresses, emails & phone numbers) 
    • Emergency contact info abroad 
    • Insurance information 
    • List of medicine & prescriptions 
  • Pack your luggage (wisely!)

    We know it’s hard, but resist the temptation to overpack! Limit your luggage to what you can carry yourself.  

    Specific packing lists will be provided by your program, but here are some general packing suggestions for all study abroad students: 

    • Verify the airline baggage allowance and the excess baggage fees.
    • Label your luggage inside and out with your contact information both in the US and abroad.
    • Ensure you have enough medication to last you the duration of your term abroad. It’s also recommended that you bring a prescription note from your doctor and keep the medicine’s original packaging.  
    • If you’re staying with a host family while you’re abroad, you may want to bring them a small gift to show your appreciation.  
    • If you have natural hair, IES Abroad has hair care packing tips for Traveling with Natural Hair. 

    P
    ack in your carry-on: 
    • A change of clothes
    • Prescription medicines
    • A reusable water bottle
    • Phone charger 
    • A small set of hygiene products (toothpaste, toothbrush, tampons, etc.) 
    • All valuables, including money, credit cards, passport, ID, tickets, insurance card, laptop, and any immigration paperwork 
  • Make an arrival plan

    Include crucial contact/address information for your arrival in your carry-on just in case your phone dies or is not working when you land.  

    Plan how you will get local currency upon arrival. If possible, try not to use the exchange bureaus in the airport of your destination country. Their exchange rates are not favorable, and you may be charged additional fees. There are usually ATMs at the airport that provide better rates. 

    Devise a plan to get to your in-country residence once you arrive. Is someone picking you up at the airport or do you need to arrange your own transportation (cab, bus, train, etc.)?  

    If staying with a host family, make sure you have the family’s name, address and phone number. If staying in a dorm or other housing, have the information for the main contact or program staff with you in your carry-on. 

Money Matters

  • Receive your budget sheet and financial aid award

    Students on Wesleyan financial aid will receive aid for semester and year-long study abroad programs. Financial aid is not available for short-term (summer and winter) study abroad. 

    Review the Finances and Funding webpage to understand how financial aid is calculated for study abroad. Your budget sheet (put together by the Office of Study Abroad) in tandem with your financial aid award (put together by the Office of Financial Aid) will help you understand how much money you can expect to pay out-of-pocket while you’re abroad.  

    Depending on the amount of your award, you may receive funding to cover some out-of-pocket expenses. If this is the case, you will see a negative balance (i.e. a credit) on your student account which you can ask to receive via direct deposit (we call this a "cash advance"). You can email studyabroad@wesleyan.edu if you have a negative balance that you would like to receive as a cash advance.

  • Research the local currency, exchange rate, and typical payment methods

    Check out XE Currency Converter to see how the US dollar (USD) converts to your study abroad country. Keep in mind that exchange rates can fluctuate.  

    Plan how you will get local currency upon arrival. If possible, try not to use the exchange bureaus in the airport of your destination country. Their exchange rates are not favorable, and you may be charged additional fees. There are usually ATMs at the airport that provide better rates. 

    Payment methods vary around the world. Your program provider can share with you what payment methods (card, cash, etc.) are used most often by students on your program. 

    You should also research whether tipping at restaurants, bars, in cabs, etc. is customary in your host country.  

  • Speak with your bank about your upcoming travels
    You should notify your bank about your travel dates before you depart. You don’t want to arrive in-country and find your card has been frozen! You can also ask your bank about waiving possible ATM and credit card fees while you’re living abroad. 
  • Make a plan to keep your money safe

    Consider how much money you will carry at one time and how you will store it securely. Don’t carry a large amount of cash. Pickpocketing is common, especially in tourist destinations. If you must carry cash, do so in small amounts and keep it in a secure place. 

    Plan what you will do if your wallet is lost or stolen. You first step in any emergency should always be to contact your program leadership. It’s wise to share your debit/credit card numbers with someone you trust at home just in case you lose them while you’re abroad. 

Health and Safety

  • Know what to do in case of an emergency

    If you are involved in an emergency abroad, follow all program-specific emergency procedures. Once you are out of harm's way, be sure to contact the Office of Study Abroad. If you are calling outside normal business hours, contact the Office of Public Safety. The Office of Public Safety will be able to get you the help you need at any time and can get in touch with the on-call Dean and another member of the Wesleyan staff. 

    Office of Study Abroad – 8:30am-5pm EST 

    +1 (860) 685-2550 

    Office of Public Safety - 24 Hours 

    +1 (860) 685-3333 
     

    The Office of Study Abroad can help with many emergency and non-emergency issues you might experience abroad even though we are far away. In addition, we have reporting responsibilities for certain incidents that happen abroad. Please contact us as soon as you can or verify that your on-site program staff will follow up with us. 

    U.S. embassies also have a 24/7 emergency contact number. Visit usembassy.gov and select your host country. Once you are on the embassy’s webpage, hover over “U.S. Citizen Services” to see the emergency contact information. Wesleyan domestic and international students may take advantage of this service, though not all emergency services (such as repatriation flights) are available for international students. If you are an international student, you should contact your country of citizenship’s embassy for any needed support. 

  • Make a plan for your mental and physical health abroad
    Create a plan for your mental and physical health abroad in consultation with your doctors. Discuss medications, therapies, allergies, accessibility needs, etc. Before your program begins, speak to your program provider about any specific resources or accommodations you may need while abroad. Review the Health and Safety webpage for more detailed information. 
  • Pack an adequate supply of any prescription medications

    Speak with your doctors about your upcoming travels and how you will continue any medicine regimens. Each country sets their own regulations regarding prescription medications so it’s important to do your research and consult with your doctor well before you depart. A good place to start is the CDC’s guide to Traveling with Medicine and the FDA’s Traveling with Prescription Medications video. You can also contact the U.S. foreign embassy in your host country with any questions. 

    You and your doctor should discuss: 

    • Whether any medications you currently take are banned in your host country. If any medications you currently take is not permitted in the country, discuss your other options. 
    • How much medicine you will need while abroad. You should contact the foreign embassy in your host country to see if there are any limits to the quantity of prescription medicines you can bring across the border. In general, you should bring enough prescription medication for the entirety of your time abroad plus extra in case you stay longer than initially intended. You will likely be able to get a travel override from your insurance company to be able to get a larger prescription ahead of time. 
    • It may be important to also bring a letter from your doctor explaining your need for the prescription in order to pass through customs.
  • Obtain your international insurance information

    All Wesleyan students studying abroad are provided international health insurance free of charge either through their program or through Wesleyan. If you need physical or mental health support while abroad, you should first call your international insurance provider to find an in-network doctor. Failing to do so may result in avoidable out-of-pocket costs.  

    If your program does not provide international insurance or provides a limited insurance, Wesleyan will provide you with International SOS insurance. If your semester study abroad program charges for insurance, Wesleyan will cover that expense for you. 

    Print your insurance card information before you leave and keep it with you at all times. For students receiving International SOS insurance from Wesleyan, you will be sent an insurance card and summary of benefits via email before you depart. 

  • Register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)
    The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service that allows U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. International students at Wesleyan are also eligible to enroll in STEP though not all emergency services (such as repatriation flights) may be available for international students. If you are an international student, you should contact your country of citizenship’s embassy for any needed support. 
  • Share important information with your loved ones

    Share your program dates with your loved ones/family, alerting them to course registration period, first and last day of classes, exam period and holidays. 

    You will want to make two photocopies of the following documents, one to leave at home, the other to keep in a secure place abroad: 

    • Passport identification page (page with your photo) 
    • Visa page within your passport and any other immigration documents 
    • Airline tickets 
    • Driver’s license 
    • Credit and ATM/bank cards 
    • Contact information abroad (addresses, emails & phone numbers) 
    • Emergency contact info abroad 
    • Insurance information 
    • List of medicine & prescriptions 

Culture and Identity

  • Learn about your host country and city

    Taking time to research your host country in depth will not only help you navigate challenges abroad more wisely, but prior research also shows your host community that you respect and honor their culture.  

    Here are some general questions to ask about your host country/city to get started: 

    • What is the basic history and how does this history inform the current reality (government, economics, climate, etc.)?  
    • What languages are spoken?  
    • What religions are practiced?  
    • What holidays are observed and what are their traditions? 
    • What social justice movements are taking place? 
    • What is the country’s view on gender and gender roles? 
    • What are the cultural taboos? 
    • How do people typically organize their daily schedules? Are there certain times of day where people typically work, rest, or gather? 
    • What foods are most common? What times of day are meals typically eaten? 
    • How do people greet one another and say goodbye?  
    • What modes of transportation are most common?  
    • Are customers expected to bargain or are prices fixed? Is tipping customary in restaurants, cabs, bars, etc.? 
  • Consider how your identities may be perceived abroad

    No matter what your intersecting identities are, there will be differences in how they are perceived or treated in your host environment. This can lead to experiences or situations that are good, bad, or just weird.

    The Identity Abroad webpage provides prompts and resources to help you prepare for your term abroad.

  • Practice your foreign language skills

    It's normal to feel nervous about speaking, listening, and taking classes in a language that’s not your first! We applaud your willingness to step outside of your comfort zone because that’s where intercultural understanding is developed. One of the most meaningful and responsible ways to engage with another culture is through language acquisition. 

    If you’re studying abroad in a country where English is not the primary language, it’s recommended that you practice your host country’s language as much as possible before your term abroad. If the language is taught at Wesleyan, we recommend enrolling in a language class the term before you depart. If the language is not taught at Wesleyan, check out the language self-instructional opportunities available through FCGS. 

    Some other ways that Wesleyan students have prepared their language skills before a term abroad:  

    • Attend language conversation tables at Wes
    • Change the language of their TV and phone to the target language
    • Identify a language buddy to hold themselves accountable 
    • Visit a language faculty member during their office hours
  • Connect with students who have gone before you

    Study abroad is very common at Wesleyan. The vast majority of study abroad returnees are eager to share their experiences and advice with outgoing students.  

    The Study Abroad Ambassadors are a great place to start. These students have all studied abroad previously and now work with the Office of Study Abroad. Reach out to a student leader over email or meet up on campus to chat.

  • Reflect on your goals

    Do you remember what goals you wrote about in your ViaTRM application? If not, refresh your memory and take a look. Take some time to think again about how you hope to grow as a result of studying abroad. Here are some prompts to get the juices flowing:

    • Why do I want to study abroad?
    • What am I hoping to learn?
    • How do I want to challenge myself?
    • What is my comfort zone? How can I push myself out of my comfort zone and into my learning/growth zone?


    Many Wesleyan students find that keeping a journal while abroad is a great way to reflect on one's growth and navigate feelings of culture shock. A journal is also a wonderful way to remember your study abroad experience years later!