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									   Study Abroad
Orientation Manual
Study Abroad: The Adventure Begins
Students overseas are met with a myriad of cultural and behavioral differences from the moment they
step off the plane. This constant exposure to foreign experiences makes study abroad both an exercise in
cultural immersion and adaptation. Learning to deal with, adapt to, and accept the differences between
one’s home culture and host culture is one of the purposes of going overseas to study, and one of the
main goals students should try to achieve while abroad.

The information contained in this handbook is intended to help you make preparations for your studies
abroad. While we have tried to make it comprehensive, we have undoubtedly left out some details.
Therefore, you should seek other references to prepare for your adventure, such as your program specific
orientation materials, travel guidebooks, historical and fictional works about your host country, etc. In
addition to reading materials, you should search for people who are knowledgeable about your program
and host country: your study abroad advisor, former program participants, natives to the country, faculty,
MU staff, and friends and family who may be familiar with what you are going to experience. These
people will be great sources of information and advice. In the end, though, it won’t be possible to prepare
yourself completely. There will be situations you will not have anticipated and your flexibility will go a long
way towards making your time abroad a positive one.

We wish you a safe journey and look forward to hearing all about your adventures abroad when you
Practical Preparation
Apply for a passport                            Lost your passport?
If you haven’t already applied for a            Loss or theft of a valid passport should be reported
passport, you should do so IMMEDIATELY!         immediately to the nearest passport agency or:

• A passport is your official identification                    Passport Services
  as a citizen of the United States                            Department of State
• Passport applications can take from                         Washington D.C. 20524
  two to eight weeks to process
• A passport is valid for ten years for         If the loss occurs while abroad, you should notify
  individuals 16 or older when the              the nearest U.S. Consulate. Theft of a passport
  passport was issued. If you were 15 or        should also be reported to the local police.
  younger when the passport was issued,
  then your passport is valid for 5 years.      Ask your parents or designated emergency contact
  Make sure that your passport is valid at      to obtain a passport, just in case they need to go
  least 6 months beyond the date of the         abroad to assist you in an emergency.
  end of your program!
• Don’t forget to provide your Social
  Security Number on the application, or
  else the International Revenue Service
  may impose a $500 penalty!
• For more information visit: travel.state.

Passport applications are available at:

• The U.S. Post Office 511 E. Walnut
  (573) 876-7800 selection #5 (passport
  information number)
• On the web:

When you receive your passport:

• Sign it in ink, and fill in the address and
  notification data in pencil
• Guard it as you would any other
• Make several copies of the official page
  for ease of replacement if it’s lost or
• Give one to the International Center to
  put in your file
• Keep one with you in a safe place
  separate from your passport
• Leave one with a friend or family
Student Visa (if required)
A visa is official permission to enter a specific
country and is granted by that country’s
government. Americans who plans to go abroad
should check the visa requirements for the
countries they plan to visit by contacting the
nearest consulate for that country.

Single copies of “Visa Requirements of Foreign
Governments” (Publication M 264), a publication
which lists the entry requirements for U.S. Citizens,
are available free from:

            Office of Passport Services                 Entry/Visitor Visas
          Department of State, Room 306
                 1425 K Street NW                       If you plan to travel outside of the
             Washington D.C. 20524                      boundaries of your host country,
                                                        you should be sure to check entry
This information is also available through the          regulations for any country that you
Department of State website:                            plan to visit. Some countries will
                                                        require that you obtain a visa just to
                              enter the country, regardless of the
                                                        purpose and/or length of your visit.
Some visas are free and some are not. The
application process may take several weeks for
each visa, so start early.
Registration for Study Abroad                            Billing
You will need to be formally registered for your         MU reciprocal exchange programs: Your MU
study abroad program, just as you would for any          account will be billed the $500 Study Abroad
course at MU. In order to be registered for an MU,       Administrative fee, MU Tuition (15 credits per
MU Partner, or Non-MU Study Abroad Program, you          semester or 6 credits per summer), Non-Resident
will need to complete and turn in the Assumption         Tuition fees (if applicable), Information Technology
of Risk & Release and Program Confirmation &             fees, Recreation Facility fees, Student Activity fees,
Conditions of Participation forms. If you have not yet   and Health Center fees.
done so, you need to do so IMMEDIATELY!
                                                         MU Fee-Paying Programs: Your MU student
Make sure the forms are completed by the deadline        account will be billed the $350 Study Abroad
set by your MU Study Abroad Advisor. Upon                Administrative Fee, MU Tuition (13 credits per
receipt of these forms, you will be registered for       semester or 6 credits per summer), Non-Resident
the appropriate study abroad section by the MU           Tuition fees (if applicable), Information Technology
International Center as outlined in the Program          fees, and any program fees associated with the
Confirmation & Conditions of Participation.              program. In most cases, your airfare, housing, and
                                                         other personal expenses will be your responsibility
Remember to contact both International                   and you will pay said fees directly to the relevant
Admissions and your Academic Advisor if the              person or agency.
courses you are taking abroad differ from those
listed on your Course Proposal for Study Abroad.         MU Partner Programs: Your MU student account
                                                         will be billed a $350 Study Abroad Administrative
                                                         Fee, MU Tuition (13 credits per semester or 6
Registration: Returning to MU                            credits per summer), Non-Resident Tuition fees (if
                                                         applicable), and Information Technology fees. MU
You are responsible for pre-registering yourself
                                                         Tuition (resident and non-resident) is paid directly
for the semester that you will return to MU. Either
                                                         to MU. MU will forward the resident MU Tuition to
designate someone you trust to register you or
                                                         the MU Partner Program on your behalf. MU Non-
register yourself through myZou:
                                                         Resident Tuition will be retained by MU and will not
                                                         be forwarded to the Partner Program. Students must
                                                         pay any costs above the cost of the MU Tuition
                                                         directly to the MU Partner Program. Please see the
You will receive your registration start time via
                                                         MU Partner Program Billing Worksheet for further
e-mail (your MU e-mail address) prior to the
registration period. The Schedule of Courses will
also be available on myZou.
                                                         MU Departmental & Faculty-Led Programs: You
                                                         will be billed a Study Abroad Administrative Fee
                                                         (outlined in your program budget) upon acceptance
                                                         into your program. Once you have completed and
Academic Year Participants                               turned in the participant packet forms and have
                                                         registered for your program, you will be charged
Remember that the International Center will
                                                         for your program’s credits for summer programs
register you for the appropriate course for the
                                                         of MU Tuition, Non-Resident Tuition (if applicable),
second semester of your studies. You may be
                                                         Information Technology fees, and any program fees
charged tuition for the second semester after
                                                         associated with the program on your MU student
registration. Be sure that myZou has an up-to-date
                                                         account. In most cases, your airfare, housing and
billing address to ensure that the statement will be
                                                         other personal expenses will be your responsibility
sent to the correct address. Also, alert your parents,
                                                         and you will be paying those directly to the relevant
or whoever will be receiving the bill, that it will be
                                                         person or agency.
Financial Aid
If you plan to apply financial aid to the costs of your study abroad program, you should work with your Study Abroad
Advisor to complete the Financial Planning Worksheet for Study Abroad. Additionally, you will need to work with a
Study Abroad Financial Aid Advisor in the Financial Aid office, 11 Jesse Hall. All of the necessary paperwork that needs
to be completed is available on the Financial Aid website at:


You must fill out these forms by the specified deadlines in order to assure that you will continue to receive your
financial aid while you are abroad. If you begin this process early enough, it may be possible for financial aid to re-
evaluate your needs and make you eligible for additional loans or grants.

Health Insurance Requirement
The University of Missouri provides all participants in MU Programs administered by the International Center
with HTH Worldwide Blanket Student Accident and Sickness Insurance and Medex Secure Rider Insurance. The
International Center will manage enrollment in HTH Worldwide and Medex, and the cost of insurance coverage will
be billed directly to the student’s MU account.

The comprehensive health insurance coverage policies provided by the following MU Partner programs have been
evaluated by the UM System Office of Risk Management and have been determined to fulfill the MU insurance
requirements: Alliance, Arcadia, CIEE, IFSA Butler, IES, ISEP-Direct, Montana State University (Al Akhawayn
University, Morocco), University of Wisconsin – Platteville. Students participating in these programs are not
required to enroll in additional comprehensive health insurance. The University of Missouri System provides the
Medex Secure Rider insurance to students participating on these programs.

The following MU Partner programs either do not provide health insurance coverage or the health insurance
coverage that they do provide has been deemed insufficient by the UM System Office of Risk Management: AIU,
Australearn (Australia and New Zealand), University of Arizona (Moscow GRINT), CAPA, CIMBA (Italy MBA program),
DIS, University of Kansas. The MU International Center will enroll students participating in these MU Partner
Programs in the MU Sickness and Accident Insurance administered by HTH Worldwide and the Medex Secure Rider
Insurance. These charges will be billed to participants’ MU student accounts.

The MU International Center cannot independently verify sickness and accident insurance coverage provided by
Non-MU Programs, as these programs are not sponsored by or affiliated with the University of Missouri. Students
participating in Non-MU programs will be asked to verify their enrollment in a health insurance policy that will
provide them with comprehensive coverage while they are abroad that is equal to or greater than the coverage
provided by the HTH Worldwide Blanket Student Accident and Sickness Policy. Students who have questions about
the insurance coverage provided by their Non-MU Program should contact the program provider directly. If students
find that the insurance provided by their Non-MU Program is not equivalent to the HTH Worldwide Insurance, they
should purchase HTH Insurance by enrolling online using the procedure outlined on the MU International Center

Students participating in Faculty-led and Departmental Programs administered by the MU International Center, the
College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources (CAFNR) , the Missouri School of Journalism, and the Trulaske
College of Business (TCOB) will be enrolled in the HTH Worldwide Sickness and Accident Insurance and Medex
Secure Rider Insurance by their Program Directors. The cost of insurance coverage is included in the Program Fee for
Faculty-led and Departmental Programs.
Medex Secure Rider & Medex ID card
The Medex Secure Rider includes Political Evacuation Services, Security Evacuation Services,
Transportation after Security or Political Evacuation, and Real Time Security Intelligence. For a copy of the
Medex Secure insurance for students and your student Medex ID card (to be carried with you always when
travelling), see:


Communication Abroad
While having a cellular phone is not required by the MU International Center, Partner or Non-MU programs
may require you to purchase a cell phone on-site. If you are considering taking a cell phone with you
abroad, contact your current provider to see what options are available. Some students buy inexpensive
pay-as-you-go cell phones in their host countries.

If you have a computer and internet resources available, another great option is Skype. With Skype, family
and friends can communicate free or very inexpensively through instant messaging, video calls, and phone


As for phone cards, please note that most U.S. pre-paid calling cards will not work from abroad. (IDT’s
Global Call Card is one exception). Make sure to check with the card company before you purchase a pre-
paid card for use overseas.

Often, major phone companies (e.g., AT&T, Sprint) will offer discounted calling plans for the country in
which you will be studying. This is a great way to make your first call home to let your family know you
have arrived safely at your study abroad site. Contact your long-distance carrier for details.

Looking for a good way to keep everyone up-to-date without writing individual emails, making multiple
expensive phone calls, etc.? Many recent study abroad participants have opted to keep everyone “in the
know” by blogging about their experiences as they unfold—this can be a very convenient way for friends
and family to learn more about your experience abroad, while also serving as a great tool for reflection on
your own experiences. A couple commonly used blogging sites are:


Not the journalistic type? You don’t need to be verbose to keep everyone informed. Try setting up a
photostream on Flickr or any number of photo-sharing sites.


Remember—these are just a few ways to stay in touch. Be sure to find what works best for you!
Cultural Adjustment
What do we mean when we say “culture?” Put
simply, culture is the sum total of the institutions,
beliefs, customs, behaviors, artifacts, language,
and attitudes of a particular group of people. It
is learned and transmitted from generation to
generation. It is cumulative and ever-changing. It is
the way you think, act, speak, and walk as well as
what you think about, why you act the way you do,
what you say, and how you walk. It is the total way
of life of a people. Your culture affects everything
you do and it colors the way you view other

When the contact of cultures involves extreme
differences, or even contradictory views or
customs, uneasiness can occur. Dealing with this
uneasiness is part of the process.

Studying overseas includes dealing with your host culture’s stereotypes about you and also involves
coming to grips with your own stereotypes about your host culture. It is necessary to recognize that
not everyone in your host country is going to behave like a character out of a comic book. For example,
not all Australians dress like Crocodile Dundee and not all Chinese know martial arts. Keep in mind some
stereotypes of “typical” Americans:

•   Outgoing and friendly                               •   Racially prejudiced
•   Informal                                            •   Ignorant of other countries
•   Loud, rude, boastful                                •   Wealthy
•   Immature                                            •   Generous
•   Hard working                                        •   Promiscuous
•   Extravagant and wasteful                            •   Always in a hurry
Some stereotypes are openly hostile and can lead to active prejudice against a group or nationality. Some
students may encounter active hostility toward Americans while they are overseas. This hostility can
take many forms. Verbal insults are usually the most common and least dangerous. Students who find
themselves in such situations need to simply walk away.

Following are some unflattering questions and generalizations about the U.S. that you may hear in another
country. If these or similar questions are posed to you while abroad, try not to become defensive. Instead,
try to address them by being patient, open-minded, and gracious. Sometimes you can deflect them
by asking about the host culture. Remember that you are there to learn about another culture, not to
promote and become entrenched in your own.

       • We’ve heard about how easy your schools are. How can such a great nation have such a poor
         educational system?
       • Why do you put your old people in nursing homes? Don’t you care about your elderly?
       • Why are Americans so ignorant of the world?
       • How can such a rich country have so many poor people?
       • How can you talk so much about human rights when you have racial problems in the US?
       • America is well known to us from TV and films. With all that sex and drugs going on, you must
         be immoral.
       • Why are you always trying to force your form of government on everyone else?
       • You Americans don’t respect marriage. Divorce for you is as simple as going to the market.
       • Do you own a gun?

                                                          Standing out
                                                          If you are in a minority in your host country,
                                                          people will be very curious about you. Children
                                                          may follow you on the street. People may yell
                                                          out your most obvious physical characteristics
                                                          to acknowledge you, or just stare and point
                                                          at you. You may be surprised to hear people
                                                          calling you “Foreigner, Blond One, Tall One,
                                                          Black One, Crazy Tattooed Man, etc.” Most of
                                                          this attention is not negative or dangerous, but
                                                          sometimes you may be categorized based on
                                                          stereotypes (which may be very different from
                                                          country to country).
Areas of Cultural Difference
Remedies for stereotypes and prejudice wholly depend upon individual behaviors. With this in
mind, it is important to note specific areas where cultural misunderstandings can occur. If you are
aware of some key differences, you can avoid problems and cultural missteps.

Personal Space
In every culture, there is a conception of what is
considered appropriate personal space. Personal
space is the area around you which you reserve
for yourself and someone with whom you are on
intimate terms. Learn the etiquette of personal
space in your host culture by observing other
people. Do not be offended if someone invades
“your” space by accident. Remember that in some
cultures the American norm of wide personal space
translates into aloofness and standoffish behavior.
Your habits in regard to personal space could be
telling other people something about you that isn’t
really true.                                           Polite Behavior
                                                       Every culture has an idea of what is
                                                       considered “polite,” what is considered
                                                       “informal,” and what is considered “rude.”
                                                       These fine shades of social behavior take
                                                       years to learn, even for natives; don’t
                                                       be discouraged if it takes you a while
                                                       to adjust to these norms. Indeed, some
                                                       people, even in their own cultures, never
                                                       quite get the hang of these distinctions.
                                                       Examples of things Americans do that may
                                                       be considered rude in some other cultures
                                                       are pointing, smiling at strangers, asking
                                                       personal questions, Americans teasing each
Humor                                                  other, shouting, and calling people by their
                                                       first names.
Senses of humor differ drastically from culture to
culture. What may be funny to you is not always
going to be funny to an Australian, for example.
Conversely, what an Australian considers hilarious,
you may find downright rude or offensive. Be
careful about what you joke about overseas and
observe the joking behaviors of your friends. Learn
from other people’s mistakes! If a joke about the
Queen Mother gets a friend of yours a mouthful of
teeth in a London pub, remember not to make the
same kind of jokes. Again, it is best to err on the
side of caution when it comes to humor.
Food and Eating                                            Alcohol and Drugs
If you are observant, you will notice that people in       Attitudes towards alcohol and drug use vary
other countries eat differently from Americans. In         considerably from culture to culture. Social drinking
some countries, it is impolite to keep your hands          is almost always acceptable, whereas public
under the table and improper to put your knife             drunkenness is not. Read about the laws of the
and fork down and change hands after cutting               country you are visiting. Drugs account for 1/3 of
a piece of food. You may also encounter a few              Americans arrested overseas. If you get caught with
“food-surprises.” Words used in the U.S. may               them, you could be thrown into a jail unlike any you
mean something different abroad. For example,              could ever imagine. The U.S. government cannot
“spaghetti” in Italy is a first course, and french fries   help you out of such a situation. You are subject
(“chips”) might be served with mayonnaise rather           to laws of that country. Some countries have
than ketchup.                                              death penalties for illegal drug possession, such as
                                                           Malaysia. In other countries, such as Turkey, the
Menus may state whether the tip and/or taxes are           average sentence for drug possession is over seven
included in the bill or not. Check the customs of          years. The fact you were carrying a small amount
the country which you are visiting: tipping customs        may not make a difference at all.
vary, and while in some countries a gratuity of 12-15%
is expected, in other countries tipping isn’t done at

Take time to explore local taverns and restaurants.
You can learn a lot about countries by their cuisine
and the clientele they serve. At the same time, be
aware of food and water safety precautions. Also,
watch out for “extras.” In some places you may
pay extra for a napkin! Food is available on most
trains, but is more expensive. Plan ahead and bring
something with you. In big cities, restaurants inside
and around the train station are generally more
expensive. Trekking a bit down a few side streets
may lead you to something a little more special
and in your price range. Travel guide books often
contain good information on restaurants.

It may be wise to bring any special dietary
supplements or food items you are accustomed to:           Topics of Conversation
black pepper, vitamin C, peanut butter, etc. Keep in
mind that it is illegal to carry perishables or plants     Many cultures have taboo subjects that may or
across country boundaries.                                 may not make any sense to most Americans. Try to
                                                           find out what can be safely spoken about in polite
                                                           conversation and what might be considered off-
                                                           color or rude. Political discussions, especially, can
                                                           become very heated. If you are not sure where
                                                           you stand on an issue or are not willing to discuss
                                                           it, simply back out of the discussion. The last
                                                           thing most people want to hear is an ill-informed
                                                           American talking loudly about some issue in local
                                                           politics about which he or she has absolutely no
Dealing with Culture Shock
Traveling abroad can be one of the most exhilarating learning experiences of your life. Or, it can turn out
to be a series of bewildering and frustrating incidents that leave you longing for home. By thinking and
preparing for the process of cultural adjustment, you will certainly enhance your travel abroad experience.

What Causes Culture Shock?
The difference between your expectations and what you actually experience is where you may begin
to find problems in adjusting. In spite of the fact that you may already have visited your host country,
you will find it different to actually live there. It is easy to become frustrated by the daily differences like
operating a phone, finding convenient shopping hours, and getting around. The easily accessible facilities
taken for granted in the U.S. are not always available, and this can prove upsetting and stressful. This is an
opportunity to discover why most students find study abroad so rewarding—it forces you to learn about
your personal limits and strengths. The following are the various stages of culture shock:

Stage 1: The “Honeymoon” period—Initial
euphoria; you are fascinated with all the new
things you are experiencing

Stage 2: Irritability and Hostility as you reject
the foreign culture and people as being strange
leading to culture shock

Stage 3: Learning to decipher foreign behavior
and customs

Stage 4: Adaptation/Bi-Culturalism; acceptance
and enjoyment of the foreign culture

Ways to Successfully Adapt to Your Host Culture
• Maintain a flexible personality and be open-minded
• Keep your sense of humor
• Stay busy and set some concrete goals—resist withdrawing into yourself or surrounding yourself with
• Be friendly and outgoing—try to make a friend in the host culture
• Instead of looking for an extended vacation, discover the satisfaction of immersing yourself in a
  different way of life—be more than just a tourist
• Remember that you are a visitor to this country—do not expect special privileges
• Get involved with aspects of the host culture that you can’t easily do at home, like the tea ceremony in
• Respect the customs and opinions of the people you meet overseas
• Engage in familiar sports and activities to keep from feeling overwhelmed by a completely foreign
• Keep in touch with family and friends at home
• Take care of yourself with enough sleep, exercise, and healthy meals
• Acknowledge that culture shock is normal and will pass—if these feelings increase in severity, seek
  help from your overseas contact person—if you are not receiving the help you need, contact the MU
  International Center right away
Return Shock
As you arrive back in the States, you are likely to
experience culture shock again, called reverse
culture shock. Just as your host country seemed
difficult and unmanageable to you a little while ago,
home may seem that way to you now. “Return
shock” is a perfectly normal reaction suffered by
many who have been abroad. It could range from
annoyance at not finding the food and products to
which you have become accustomed to difficulty
reestablishing ties with family and friends. Initially
you may feel that you no longer fit in. The truth is
you have changed culturally.

Easing your transition back to the States
• Find a more receptive audience (like the MU International Center)
• Take advantage of opportunities to meet other study abroad alumni
• Participate in study abroad recruitment and orientation at MU
• Join the International Programming Committee to get involved in international activities
• Become active with one of the many international student organizations on campus
• Request an international roommate if you live on campus, live in Pangaea, or try to form your own
  “language house” (or apartment) to keep your language skills up
• Continue your foreign language studies
• Stay in touch with people you met abroad
• Subscribe to newspapers or magazines from your host country

Again, remember that return shock is temporary and you will be able to readjust to your home culture.
Be patient, flexible, and understanding of the events and people around you and you will soon be
reintegrated into the culture you have always known.

Individual characteristics enhanced by living in other cultures include:
•   Awareness of international issues and needs          • Complex self-awareness that will help when
•   Open mindedness                                        making decisions
•   Independence                                         • Creativity
•   Tolerance of different view points                   • Appreciation of “cultural relativity”
•   Competence in another language
•   Sensitivity to differences in people, and greater
    acceptance of diversity
How much do you already know about your
host country?
One way that has proven successful in making people feel more
secure about their preparedness to go abroad is to research
the country they will be living in. We have compiled a list of ten
basic questions you can ask about your host country and culture.
These questions are designed to help you become more aware
of facts and behaviors found in your host country and to lay the
groundwork for comparative thinking between host and home
cultures. This is not intended to be a comprehensive list, and you
will probably think of more questions as you attempt to answer
these. Nevertheless, when you have the answers to the following,
you can consider yourself well beyond the beginner stage.

1. How many people who are prominent in the affairs (politics,
    athletics, religion, the arts, etc.) of your host country can you
2. Who are the country’s national heroes and heroines?
3. What is the predominant religion? Is it a state religion? Have
    you read any of its sacred writings? How do members of the
    predominant religion feel about other religions?
4. If you are invited to dinner, should you arrive early? On time?
    Late? If late, how late? Does the same timing hold true in terms
    of arrival at school? At work?
5. On what occasions will you present (or accept) gifts from
    people in the country? What kind of gifts would you exchange?
6. How do people greet one another? Shake hands? Embrace or
    kiss? How do they leave one another? What does any variation
    from the usual greeting or leaving signify?
7. What are U.S. relations in the past and present with your host
    country and the surrounding regions like? Be able to provide an
    informed opinion of the U.S.’s actions or positions.
8. What are the important holidays? How is each observed?
9. What sports are popular?
10. Are there special privileges of age, sex, religion, ethnicity,
    socio-economic status?
How Much To Take
Inflation and the rising value of other currencies compared to the US dollar have made it increasingly
difficult to travel cheaply. Inexpensive travel is defined by most travel guides to be around $20-$60 per day,
depending on where you go. Spending less means that you will stay in hostels and eat in market places.
A larger budget allows more freedom and choice in accommodations, restaurants, and entertainment.
Once you have determined your travel budget, take along a $500 emergency fund. You may not spend
this money, but it will be there should you need it, and you will avoid the hassles that come with being
stranded abroad. For detailed information on costs, consult travel guidebooks.

Currency Exchange
Currency can be exchanged at most international
airports and at most major banks and railroad
stations abroad. It is wise to exchange a small
amount of money prior to your departure in order
to have some cash-on-hand upon arrival. Should
you choose to do this, be sure to exchange your
money at one of the various bank branches at the
airport, at your home bank, or at a reputable travel
agency. Most banks allow you to purchase foreign
currency; just be sure to order it several weeks prior
to departure.

Avoid exchanging currency at hotels, restaurants,
or retail shops: the exchange rate tends to be
outrageous in these places. Banks and bank
windows often can be found both in airports and
railroad stations abroad. They will afford you the
fairest exchange rate available. Expect to pay
commission every time you exchange currency;
in some countries the commission is based on a
percentage of the amount you exchange, while in
others there is a flat fee regardless of amount.

Plan ahead! Allow several weeks (usually 2-3) for
delivery if you plan to purchase foreign currency
from your bank. Try to anticipate how much you will
need for a particular country.

Remember to have your passport with you as
identification each time you exchange money.

You can check the exchange rate before your
departure by visiting the following websites:

Credit Cards
Possession of an American Express, Visa, or MasterCard will be helpful should circumstances make it
necessary for you to acquire emergency funds while awaiting money from home.

Most credit cards now can be used like an ATM card, with limitations on daily withdrawals. Make sure
you have a PIN for your credit card and check what your daily limit is as well as your overall credit limit.
Many students prepay their credit card or have someone at home put a positive balance on it so they can
withdraw money without a daily interest charge that comes with a cash advance.

Keep in mind that not all merchants abroad accept credit cards, regardless of the name brand; many of
your gifts and/or souvenirs might be obtained at small shops and bazaars that do not provide credit card

In the case of major financial transactions abroad, be sure to have adequate identification with you (i.e.,
your passport). Contact your credit card company before you depart to let them know you will be abroad
so that your account is not frozen. Also, have someone at home keep copies of your credit card numbers in
case your card is stolen. Keep the 1-800 number on the card somewhere safe so you can cancel the card in
case of theft.

                                                        Transfer from Home
                                                        Should you run short of cash while abroad, money
                                                        can be sent from home in a variety of ways. If you
                                                        have enough credit, or have not reached your daily
                                                        limit, consider using your credit card or ATM card.
                                                        This will be the best rate of exchange and the most

                                                        If neither your ATM or credit cards works, the
                                                        quickest way, although the most expensive, is
                                                        by cable/wire transfer from your American bank
                                                        to a bank abroad. You might want to visit your
                                                        hometown bank before your departure to obtain
                                                        a list of the overseas correspondent banks to
                                                        which money can be transferred by cable and to
                                                        let them know who is authorized to initiate cable
                                                        transfers on your behalf. To pick the money up at
                                                        the overseas bank, you will need identification (i.e.,
                                                        your passport).

                                                        FYI—it may be necessary for your hometown
                                                        bank to process cable transfer through a major,
                                                        internationally recognized U.S. bank, which in
                                                        turn probably will have to deal with a comparable
                                                        internationally recognized bank overseas. The
                                                        correspondent bank abroad can then complete
                                                        the transfer to a local bank in your study abroad
                                                        location. This will take some time. Personal checks
                                                        drawn against your local hometown bank will be
                                                        worthless in most foreign countries.
ATM and Debit Cards
As more countries offer automated teller machines using your ATM card is becoming the most convenient
way to obtain money while abroad. You don’t need any form of identification to use these machines, nor
will you be charged commission. Check with study abroad returnees from your host country to see if ATM
machines in the country where you will be studying will accept U.S. ATM cards.

If you are able to use your ATM card overseas, you will most likely be charged a service fee by the bank
who owns the machine and by your own bank for using another bank’s ATM. Call your bank to find out
these rates. Also, find out your daily limit on the amount of cash you can withdrawal. You will receive
foreign currency from the machine, which, as with credit card purchases, will be converted in your account
according to the exchange rate on the day you withdrew your money. Keep the 1 800 number on the card
somewhere safe so you can cancel the card in case of theft. This service is not available with all ATM cards,
so check with your bank to make sure that your card and personal identification number (PIN) will work
in your host country. Debit cards bearing a Visa or MasterCard logo generally function much as they do in
the United States. You’ll be able to use them in most shops that accept credit cards. Be sure to alert your
banks before your departure that you will be using your cards overseas.

                                                     A little planning goes a long way. Think about
                                                     your destination before you arrive. In some
                                                     locations, ATMs are definitely not available!
Health and Safety
Physical/Dental/Eye Exams
Before a travel abroad experience, students should have a general physical done by their primary care
provider. Physicals can be obtained free of charge at the Student Health Center if a student has paid the
Pre-Paid Health Fee. This is especially important for those who have a chronic health condition such as
diabetes, high blood pressure, or asthma. In addition, females should have a gynecological check-up, if
needed. All students should plan to have a dental check-up.

If you wear glasses or contact lenses, bring a typed copy of your prescription and an extra pair of glasses
or contacts. Talk to returnees from the country where you plan to study to see if you need to bring contact
lens solution with you. Carry your glasses or contacts in your carry on luggage.

If you take prescription medicine, speak to your doctor. Verify that the medication is legal in your host
country and in any countries that you plan to visit. Prescription medications vary from country to country
in name, potency, and purity and may NOT be sent to you through international mail. If possible, you
should take sufficient medications with you to last the whole time you are abroad. Keep this medication
in the original container(s). Also, ask your doctor for a letter to present to customs officials and overseas
doctors explaining what you need to take, including a generic breakdown (not just a generic name) of your
medication. Keep any prescription medications with
you in your carry on luggage—do not put them in
checked baggage.

Students should make sure that all of their
routine immunizations are up to date. The MU
Travel Medicine Nurse can review your records at
the Student Health Center. Other vaccinations,
medications, and precautions specific to each
student’s destination will be discussed at this
visit, focusing on issues such as malaria, traveler’s
diarrhea, food and water precautions, insect/animal
avoidance techniques, and personal medical history.
Do not delay in making an appointment with
the Travel Nurse as some immunizations require
multiple inoculations over a period of time.

To make an appointment at Student Health Center
for a physical or travel visit, please call 573-882-7481.
With specific questions, call the Travel Medicine
Nurse at 573-882-4661.

Prior to an appointment, each student should
attempt to locate their childhood and adult
immunization records with the dates.
OTC meds and first aid kit
It’s a good idea to take a small first aid kit and over-
the-counter medications. Products and availability
differ from country to country. The MU Student
Health Center recommends that students consider
bringing the following items:

• Pseudoephedrine for a decongestant
• Benadryl for allergic reactions and for motion
• Topical antibiotic cream for cuts and scrapes
• Band-aids
• Immodium or Peptobismol for diarrhea
• Tylenol or Advil for aches pains and fever
• Tampons/ feminine hygiene products, as these
  may differ or be difficult to locate in some parts
  of the world

                                                           Water and Food Safety
                                                           In countries where the tap water is
                                                           not safe to drink, never drink the tap
                                                           water, avoid ice cubes, and remember
                                                           to use boiled water to brush your teeth.
                                                           Review food and water safety guidelines
                                                           specific to your country. In countries
H1N1 Flu: Advice for Travelers                             where the tap water is safe to drink,
                                                           the slight difference in mineral content
The University of Missouri (MU) International              in the water might be enough to upset
Center, in conjunction with MU campus experts              your system. Be patient. Don’t panic if
and US and international colleagues, continues             the change in diet affects your health
to carefully monitor the risks associated with the         adversely when you first arrive in a new
H1N1 flu virus as it relates to international travel       country.
and students participating in MU study abroad
programs. We encourage students with on-going
health concerns that may increase their risk for
complications from the flu to consult their U.S.
physician about their travel plans.

In addition, MU study abroad program participants
are asked to follow instructions provided by the
US Centers for Disease Control, the World Health
Organization, and the US Department of State.

For additional information, see:

Tattoos/Body Piercing
Before you decide to obtain a tattoo or piercing, it is vital that
you consider the potential health risks posed anytime a needle
punctures your skin. The most serious risk is that of blood-borne
diseases. If the equipment used to create your tattoo or piercing
is contaminated with the blood of an infected person, you can
contract a number of serious blood-borne diseases. These include
hepatitis C, hepatitis B, tetanus, tuberculosis and HIV — the virus
that causes AIDS. For complete information on potential risks, see
the Mayo Clinic web site at:

Blood-borne and Fluid-borne Diseases
Given the potentially fatal consequences, blood and fluid-borne
diseases warrant special attention. To be safe in dealing with
blood, or other bodily fluids, follow this rule of thumb:

                 “If it is wet and it is not yours, don’t touch it.”

It may be very tempting to over indulge with
alcohol in a foreign country where the beer may be
stronger and cheaper and there are no barriers to
drinking before the age of 21. However, there are
some serious dangers. Drugging is not uncommon
around the world. Always buy your own drinks and
maintain control of them at all times. Keep control
of yourself. Never go home with a stranger. Always
go out with at least one friend (especially if you are
a woman) and return with that friend. Please note
that abuse of alcohol can be grounds for dismissal
from the study abroad program.
Stress/Mental Health Issues
Read through the information in this workbook about culture
shock. Be familiar with the symptoms of depression so that
you can identify problem signs and can seek help if needed.
Speaking another language all the time and adjusting to cultural
differences is tiring. Take care of yourself and be patient and
flexible. Sometimes students find that the stress of adjusting to
another country can make it more difficult to manage a mental
health problem that they were managing well in the US (e.g.,
eating disorders, depression). Other students may experience
an onset of a mental health issue for the first time while abroad.
If you find that your problems are becoming more severe rather
than getting better, ask for help immediately.

Although sex is not necessarily planned, safe sex should be, and
you should always be prepared. Therefore, even if you are not
planning on being intimate with anyone while overseas, bring a
supply of condoms with you anyway. American-made condoms
are generally safer and more reliable than many of those that
you may purchase abroad.

If you are a woman, do not be afraid of being perceived
as promiscuous if you carry condoms, and do not expect
male partners to always have their own. Most importantly,
understand that this is not a joking matter: even one apparently
insignificant episode could ruin and shorten the rest of your
life—and often someone else’s.

In addition, remember that the HIV virus and several STD’s,          Swimming
including herpes and genital warts, can be transmitted during
oral sex.While only abstinence is 100% effective, a dental dam       Many drownings on beaches
can significantly reduce the risk of coming in contact with a        abroad are due to the fact that
sexually transmitted infection. For additional information, see      foreign swimmers are unaware of
the web site for the University of Chicago’s Student Care Center     what the local population knows
at:                                                                  about undertows or particular
                                                                     dangers on the local beach. A very            large percentage of drownings are
                                                                     foreign swimmers. Do not count on
                                                                     lifeguards; for most of the places
                                                                     you will be visiting, there will be
                                                                     none.Swimming in early morning,
                                                                     at night, or under the influence of
                                                                     alcohol or other drugs increases your
                                                                     risk. In addition, in some countries,
                                                                     fresh water may be contaminated by
                                                                     parasites that carry diseases. Avoid
                                                                     standing water and non-chlorinated
                                                                     pools. Know before you dive in.
Safety Guidelines for Students Going Abroad
For your general well being it is advantageous to become familiar with your “home base” as quickly
as possible. You should also familiarize yourself with cities that you will be visiting before you begin to
wander around and explore. You may want to purchase travel guides before leaving the U.S., since these
guides may be more expensive or unavailable in your host country.

Cities in other countries, just like American cities, have their safe and unsafe neighborhoods. You can find
out what areas to avoid by asking at an information booth in a train station or airport when you arrive. Use
your common sense and do not take risks.

Here are a few suggestions of safety precautions addressed specifically to American students:

• Keep a low profile and try not to make yourself conspicuous by dress, speech, or behave in ways that
  might identify you as a potential terrorist target
• Avoid crowds, protest groups, or other potentially volatile situations, as well as restaurants and
  entertainment places where Americans are known to congregate
• Be wary of receiving unexpected packages and stay clear of unattended luggage or parcels in airports,
  train stations, or other areas of uncontrolled public access
• Report to the responsible authority any suspicious persons loitering around residence or instructional
  facilities, or following you—keep your residence area locked, and use common sense when divulging
  information to strangers about your study program and your fellow students
• Make arrangements through your overseas program director or host university officials to register
  upon arrival at the U.S. consulate or embassy having jurisdiction over the location of your foreign
  study—students can also register online at the new U.S. Department of State secure travel registry at:


• Make sure the resident director, host family, or foreign university official who is assigned the
  responsibility for your welfare always knows where and how to contact you in an emergency and
  knows your schedule and itinerary if traveling, even if only overnight
• Develop a plan with your families for regular telephone contact so that they can communicate with you
  directly about your safety and well-being in the unlikely event of an emergency
• Remain in contact with on-site personnel at your location, inform them of all travel plans, and check
  travel advisories for any country you visit
• Always have a back-up plan in case of an emergency (including phone numbers for taxis, hospitals, host
  university or program emergency contacts, International Center, etc.)
Health and Safety on the Web
MU Student Health Center:                                                  
Dept. of State Travel Information for Students:                            
HTH Students:                                                                        
Health Check for Study, Work, and TravelAbroad:                             
World Health Organization:                                                    
Travel Health Online:                                                                    
Intl. Assoc. For Medical Assistance To Travelers:                                            

Street Smarts
Be cautious when meeting new people. Don’t give out your address and phone number to strangers or
divulge too much personal information. When withdrawing money from an ATM or receiving wired money,
go with a friend that will help you stay alert to your surroundings. Pick your ATM location for safety and
not just convenience.

Do not attract attention to yourself by speaking English loudly in public spaces or wearing expensive
looking jewelry. These mannerisms will certainly attract thieves, or worse.

Taxis are not safe everywhere, especially late at night. In some places, women do not ride in taxis by
themselves. Men and women are often robbed and assaulted by taxi drivers. In many cities like Mexico
City, taxis have become so dangerous that people use Radio Taxis to order and identify reputable taxis. It is
hard to resist the temptation of flagging down a taxi. The wait is worth it. When you call a taxi, make sure
that the taxi is identified with a number or other information, so that if the call has been intercepted and
several taxis show up you can pick the right one.

In general, do not frequent well-known American hangouts (restaurants, bars, clubs and associations,
consulates and embassies, etc.). Especially avoid these places if there is a terrorist threat, the U.S. has just
participated in some military action, or if there is a warning about an impending terrorist threat. During
times of international crisis many U.S. embassies and consulates are picketed and threatened.

Do not hitchhike. Many people may tell you that it is perfectly safe—it is not!

When using public telephones, stand facing out so you can see your surroundings. Your life will always be
more important than any of your possessions. Let them go and run away if necessary.

Do not be afraid to be assertive when confronted with unwanted situations. Do not let anyone push you
into taking risks. If you feel unsafe, you probably are. Listen to your instincts.

Some factors that increase risk are being:

•   intoxicated                                           •   out after a local curfew
•   alone at night, especially after midnight             •   new to the country
•   alone in an isolated area                             •   unable to speak the local language
•   alone in a high crime area                            •   in a new place and making new friends
•   asleep in an unlocked place
American Embassies and Consulates
Should you encounter serious legal, political, health, or economic
problems, the American Embassies and/or Consulates can offer
limited assistance. They can, for example, provide you with a list
of local attorneys and physicians, contact next of kin in the event
of an emergency or serious illness, contact friends or relatives
on your behalf to request funds or guidance, provide assistance
during civil unrest or natural disaster, and replace a lost or stolen
passport. Please understand that they are the primary contact
for information on where to obtain advice; however, neither the
Embassy nor the Consulate give advice.

U.S. Embassy On-Line Registration
This is extremely important and should be done on-line before
you leave the country by visiting the following web site:

To visit the embassy in person, check the addresses of the
closest U.S. consulate or embassy at:

Additional Emergency Contact Numbers
Help the International Center to Facilitate Communications. As a regular part of safety preparedness,
please carry at all times the phone numbers and email addresses (if applicable) for the following contacts:

                                  MU International Center: +1 573 882 6007

You can contact a member of the staff of the MU International Center 24 hours a day. Our regular hours
are 8:00 am-noon and 1:00-5:00 pm on Monday-Friday. After hours, call the International Center to be
connected to the University of Missouri Police Department. The MU Police will contact an International
Center staff member at home.

                                   MU Police Department: +1 573 882 7201

•   The Program Resident Director, as applicable
•   The International Programs Office of the host institution, as applicable
•   Emergency phone numbers for the host institution
•   The US Embassy and/or the local Consulate for any country you are studying or traveling in
•   Family at home and work
•   Your travel agent, if applicable
•   The local equivalent of 911
•   A local recommended hospital
Stay Informed
Keep informed of current political situations by listening daily to the television or radio
news. In the case of an emergency, advisories may be made to the general public
through the media. You will still find yourself with many surprises, such as strikes, that
may cause you to change your plans. Stay out of host country political affairs. You can
be deported or worse—end up arrested or hurt. Unsuspecting tourists sometimes find
themselves in downtown areas during protests. If this occurs, you should leave the area

There are several websites for news on line:

Gender & Diversity Abroad
One of the most fulfilling aspects of study abroad is the opportunity to discover another culture and be-
cause of that process, to understand oneself better. In order to have a successful and safe experience, it is
important to be aware of the cultural differences that may exist.

When traditionally underrepresented students study abroad, they may be perceived and treated different-
ly due to these cultural differences. For this reason, we encourage you to work with our staff to research
social norms, cultural customs, and local practices. Our office provides resources and support to help
students and parents identify programs that fit with their academic, career, and personal needs. Study
Abroad staff members are always happy to speak with students. We welcome applications from members
of various groups which have traditionally been underrepresented in study abroad programs, including ra-
cial and ethnic minorities, GLBT students, students with disabilities, and older students who have followed
non-traditional paths to higher education.

To Men
Men should also prepare themselves for different
gender norms. In Scandinavian countries, women
typically are more assertive and have greater
practice of gender equality. In some other cultures,
there may be different norms for the treatment
of women, and you may witness harassment and
gender discrimination. Some cultures may have
other customs for friendship between members
of same and opposite sex. If anything, behave
conservatively at first until you figure things out.
To Women
At the risk of sounding alarmist or perpetuating unfair stereotypes, we urge you to be more careful about
where you go, when you go, and with whom you go than you are accustomed to being at home. This is
not to say that you shouldn’t go out with men and establish relationships of various kinds. It is to warn you
about casual encounters, possible misreading of non-verbal cues, potential real misunderstandings owing
to language difficulties, and inaccurate notions about American women in the minds of many men.

In some areas abroad this outgoing manner, especially on the part of young women, can be grossly
misinterpreted: a friendly smile and a warm “hello” on the streets of Rome could be easily interpreted
by an Italian man as something more than mere friendliness. Therefore, it is wise to be more formal and
restrained in your social contacts. Uncomfortable situations can often be avoided by taking the following
precautions. Dress conservatively. Although short skirts, shorts, and tank tops may be comfortable, they
may also encourage unwanted attention.

In many countries if you are out alone—even during the day visiting a museum, for example--your solitude
may be construed as an invitation for company. Take cues from the local women on behavior. Talk to
people about what to do in certain situations before they arise. Asking older women for their help is often
recommended as an effective tactic. Avoid walking alone at night or in questionable neighborhoods. You
should also be wary of going to unfamiliar places, like beaches and parks, with men whom you do not
know well. Invitations will not be lacking, and rape, especially “date rape,” is as much a reality abroad as it
is in the U.S.

Do not carry mace with you unless you are absolutely certain that it is necessary, and that carrying it is not
in violation of the laws of the country in which you are traveling.
To Students with Disabilities
Going abroad can be a challenging, life-changing experience you’ll never regret. However, to
enable your full participation, you may need some accommodations. It is important to be aware
of the cultural differences about disability and accommodations in order to have a successful and
safe experience abroad. Our staff will work with you to identify programs and locations to fit your
needs and help prepare you for your international experience.

Below are some resources for students with disabilities who are interested in studying abroad.

Mobility International:
       Mobility International USA (MIUSA) aspires to empower people with disabilities through
       international exchange, information, technical assistance and training, to ensure the inclusion
       of people with disabilities in international exchange and development programs.

University of Minnesota’s Access Abroad:
       Access Abroad is currently the most comprehensive resource for students with disabilities
       and study abroad. Materials were developed as part of a federally funded project and seek to
       enhance existing study abroad opportunities for students with disabilities.

Transitions Abroad:
        A collection of first-hand articles, websites and agencies by this award-winning, respected
        travel magazine.

To LGBTQ Students
While Scandinavian countries are known for their wide acceptance of homosexuality, the
intolerance of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans-gendered students may be extreme in other
locations around the world.

Please take time to understand the cultural views held towards sexual differences before you
leave the U.S. and consider how you will address this challenge. In some countries, it may be
dangerous to be “out”—even criminal.

A bibliography of resources for the LGBT traveler can be found at:

Planet Out is a great web site with a section that focuses on international travel, including
information on gay-friendly accommodations, restaurants, bars, events, and organizations around
the world. The site also features a chat line in case you have a specific question or need advice:

NYU students have developed a guide for LGBTQ students that highlights some of the most
popular study abroad destinations:
To Multicultural Students
Going abroad can be a challenging, life-changing experience you’ll never regret. However, to enable your full
participation, you may need some accommodations. It is important to be aware of the cultural differences about
disability and accommodations in order to have a successful and safe experience abroad. Our staff will work with
you to identify programs and locations to fit your needs and help prepare you for your international experience.

The University of Missouri seeks to encourage diversity while increasing global and cultural competency. It
is imperative that all students acquire knowledge of, and sensitivity to, global issues. This knowledge and
experience will enable students to participate fully in tomorrow’s workforce that will be even more ethnically
and culturally diverse than it is today. Our office encourages greater diversity in study abroad, particularly among
students of color. Your participation in an education abroad program makes you competitive for graduate school
and in the work place. Our staff will work with you to identify programs and locations to fit your needs and help
prepare you for your international experience.

Resources for African-American, Asian/Pacific American, Hispanic American, and Native American students can be
found via several online sources:

Project Plato:

Diversity Abroad:

Diversity Issues in SA (Brown U):

   While US law does not apply while abroad, if you feel that you are being discriminated against on the basis of
   race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, disability, or status as a disabled veteran or veteran of
   the Vietnam era, please contact the MU International Center immediately.
International Flight Arrangements
With the deregulation of the airline industry, there
are no longer any easy solutions to getting the
cheapest and most convenient tickets. There are
many options, each having its advantages and
disadvantages. Often there are tradeoffs between
flexibility, convenience, certainty of flight, and low
cost. Those students with tight schedules will have
different needs and priorities than those with the
freedom and flexibility to take advantage of some
of the best deals around.

The Internet can be a great resource for planning
other types of transportation as well. One web
site that encompasses a variety of transportation
information is:


This site has information on bus, rail, and subway
routes in thousands of cities worldwide. If you
only have a limited time when you get to your
destination, you can find the best route to the
sites you want to see beforehand. This can save a
lot of time that would otherwise be spent at the
information booths.

When making travel arrangements at home or
abroad, always make sure to tell the agent you
are a student and ask if any discounted fares are
available. This is especially important outside the
U.S. where student discounts are more common.
A good place on the Web to find out about
discounts in Europe is the European Travel Network       Travel Agents
homepage at:
                                                         We encourage you to shop around when working
                                         with travel agents. Columbia has several reputable
                                                         companies, or you might choose an agent from
This site has thousands of links to sites involving      home with whom you or your family has previously
travel in and around Europe. Probably the best bet       worked. One agency here in town that is particularly
for students is the discount offered by STA Travel:      student-friendly is:

                                              Great Southern Tiger Travel
                                                                     3101 W. Broadway, Suite 101
                                                                           +1 573 442 2200
Securing Valuables                                            If it’s valuable,
• Don’t carry everything in one place!
• Never pack essential documents and medicines in your
                                                              portable, and
  checked luggage. Put them in your carry-on bag or
  money belt/pouch.
                                                              unnecessary, leave it
• Never carry a large amount of cash—use a necklace
  pouch or a money belt.
                                                              at home!
• Take only the credit card you will use on the trip—keep
  a separate list of cards, numbers, and emergency            Luggage
  replacement procedures and phone numbers. “800”
  numbers cannot always be dialed from a foreign              Generally speaking, most airlines
  country—find out from your credit card agencies’            operating international flights will permit
  emergency numbers before you go.                            you to check through two pieces of
• Keep your insurance agent’s name and telephone              luggage whose total external dimensions
  number, as well as your policy number, with you in a safe   do not exceed 106 inches (length + width
  place.                                                      + depth of both pieces added together)
• Take all the medication that you will need for the entire   with the larger piece not exceeding 62
  duration of your time abroad, along with a copy of the      inches. There may be some exceptions
  prescription and generic name of the drug—keep your         to this general rule, and most airlines are
  medicines in their original pharmacy containers.            quite particular about weight limitations;
• Keep all over the counter medications in their original     please be sure to check the latest
  packaging.                                                  luggage policies for your airline to avoid
• Take extra glasses or contact lenses and the prescription   heavy fees. Excess luggage can become
  for lenses, in case of loss.                                very expensive!
• Carry with you, separate from your passport, two extra
  passport photos, passport number, date and place            Mark all luggage, inside and out, with
  issued, a photocopy of your passport and visa, and a        your name and address. If you have an
  certified, non-photocopied copy of your birth certificate   itinerary, put a copy inside each bag.
  or an expired passport.                                     Keep a list of what is in each bag and
• Make a copies of your tickets and keep them separate        carry the list with your other documents.
  from the original.                                          Mark your bags in some distinctive way
• If you are carrying a laptop, do not call attention to it   (suggestion: brightly-colored luggage
  with a fancy case—put it inside of your carry-on.           tag) so they are easily found. Count your
• Consider purchasing special insurance for expensive         pieces of luggage each time you move!
  electronic devices.                                         Try to travel light; it’s safer and easier!
Departure/Arrival                                                        U.S. Customs
Schedule your initial flight to arrive in the morning or early           Before You Go: If you own and are
afternoon. Remember that arrival procedures, including customs,          taking with you imported articles
can take a bit of time. By arriving early, you will be giving yourself   such as laptops, cameras, watches,
enough time to find food and accommodations or to get to your            etc., register them with U.S.
final destination before it gets dark and shops close down for the       Customs to avoid extra duty charge
day. Do not agree to look after packages or suitcases for anyone.        upon re-entry. They must have a
Do not leave your own bags unattended at any time.                       factory-engraved serial number.

                                                                         On Returning: The U.S. imposes
Stepping Off the Plane                                                   strict limits on what you can bring
                                                                         back to the U.S. Keep purchases
Get yourself some water or better yet—always carry bottled
                                                                         made abroad together and retain
water with you, and get a bite to eat. This will help ease your mind
                                                                         receipts for inspection. If you
and body of the culture shock some airports induce.
                                                                         bring back foreign pharmaceutical
Remember this is the time to calm down and not get frazzled. Pay
                                                                         products, have the prescriptions
attention to the location of your passport and visa documents.
                                                                         available for inspection. Remember
Put them away in your neck pouch right away after going through
                                                                         that some items, such as antiquities,
customs and immigration.
                                                                         cannot be taken out of the host
                                                                         country. Know the host country’s
Get the address of your destination before you leave the US,
                                                                         customs regulations and obey them.
just in case your contact person doesn’t meet you at the airport.
This is also where local currency can be extremely helpful. A taxi
                                                                         Should you need assistance
may cost you more than it should, but this is to be expected in a
                                                                         on matters relating to U.S.
foreign country where you haven’t yet learned the “rules”. Make
                                                                         Customs while abroad, Customs
sure you get a taxi or van service from the official airport fleet.
                                                                         representatives are available in the
Often there are booths that sell passes. If uncertain, check with
                                                                         American Embassies.
airport information desk attendant.
                                                                         NOTE: These regulations are subject
Airports, bus and train stations are notorious for pickpockets
                                                                         to change. Please review carefully
and scam artists. Be alert, be firm. Do not let anyone you do not
                                                                         the customs forms you are given
know carry your luggage for you! Do not agree to carry things for
                                                                         upon entry into the US.
others especially through border areas as it may be contraband.
Be prepared to pay for visas and other fees. Look your best when
going through customs and passport checkpoints. Make sure you
are not carrying anything considered illegal in the countries you
are visiting. Check the customs regulations for the country prior
to departure by contacting the appropriate consulate or embassy.
Many travel guides list this information as well. Likewise, read
all posted signs at the border crossings. Some border crossings
require proof of vaccinations, which may or may not be a
requirement when traveling by plane.
Jet Lag
When you arrive at your study abroad location, your clock will
be automatically out of sync with the local cycle because of
the time difference. It will take your body a few days to adjust
(some bodies take longer than others), during which time
you can expect to feel quite tired and run down. This fatigue,
in conjunction with the strange surroundings, customs, and
language, may produce a temporary sense of depression and
“homesickness.” Be prepared for that during the first couple
of days: it is a perfectly normal reaction. Generally, it takes
about 1 day for every hour of time change for your body to fully
acclimate itself to a new sleeping and eating schedule.

                                            Rail Passes
                                            Information and application for rail passes can be obtained
                                            online. Please note that these passes cannot be replaced in case
                                            of loss or theft and are therefore the equivalent of cash in your
                                            possession. It should be noted that some rail passes can only
                                            be purchased in the U.S., so you will have to obtain the one you
                                            want before departure or else have someone purchase it later
                                            on your behalf and forward it to you by registered mail. Unless
                                            you plan to do a great deal of travel by rail, a rail pass might not
                                            be your best investment. You might find it more economical to
                                            purchase one-way or return (round-trip) student fares. Several
                                            rails passes may be cashed in if they are never used; if they have
                                            been validated even once; however, they cannot be refunded.
                                            Consult your travel agent for details.

Although some commercial tours may prove to be rewarding
experiences, generally speaking they should be avoided. After
a little experience getting around overseas, most students
find that they can fulfill their own travel objectives adequately
without the assistance of professional tour services and at
much lower costs.
Road Travel Abroad                               Hostels
The MU International Center strongly             A youth hostel can be anything from a remodeled
discourages you from driving while abroad.       villa to a log cabin with extremely inexpensive
If you are planning to travel by road (bus),     overnight rates. Restrictions vary from one hostel
please note that cheaper is not always           to another: some impose curfews, some require
better. Don’t pinch pennies and put yourself     that you provide your own bed sheets, some have
in danger. It is important to ask the locals     strict check in and check out time, etc. Many youth
about the bus companies’ record and road         hostels will require you have an International Youth
conditions. It is particularly dangerous to be   Identity Pass before you can avail yourself of their
on the road at night.                            low cost accommodations. International Youth Hostel
                                                 Federation offices are located in major cities and
For information on road conditions abroad,       passes can be purchased from them. Or, you may
see the Association for Safe International       apply for the pass through:
Road Travel website at:
                                                           Council on International Exchange
                                                205 E. 42Nd Street
                                                                   New York NY 10017
If you insist on driving while abroad,
information concerning the International                                    OR
Driving Permit can be obtained from:
                                                                 American Youth Hostels
    American Automobiles Association                                  National Office
         National Headquarters                                  P.O. Box 37613, Room 804
          8111 Gatehouse Road                                     Washington DC 20013
       Fall Church, Virginia 22042                                    +1 202 783 6161

The AAA can tell you which countries             The International Youth Hostel Handbook, Volume
require such a permit (many countries will       1 and 2, is a publication that lists locations. Facilities
recognize a valid U.S. Driver’s license) and     and telephone numbers for all International Youth
can also process your application.               Federation hostels around the globe can be purchased
                                                 from one of the American Youth Hostel offices.
Bicycle touring overseas is a very enjoyable
experience. Biking is popular among Asians
and Europeans, so many countries are ready
to accommodate the casual day-biker as
well as the person planning to pedal for
most of his/her trip abroad.

For informal day biking, you will find
bicycles are available for rent all over
Europe and parts of Asia. Train stations
in big cities and many smaller towns have
bicycles for rent that you can pick up and
drop off along your route. Check with local
tourist offices and train station information
desks to find out where bicycle rental shops
are located.
Standards of Conduct
The standards for student conduct on the University of Missouri (MU) campus continue
to apply to MU students studying abroad. In addition, MU students planning to study and/
or travel in another country agree to inform themselves of and to abide by host country
laws and standards of acceptable behavior. You make both of these commitments when
they sign the UM System Assumption of Risk and Release form that states:

   I understand that each foreign country has its own laws and standards of acceptable
   conduct, including dress, manners, morals, politics, drug use and behavior. I recognize
   that behavior which violates those laws or standards could harm the University’s
   relations with those countries and the institutions therein, as well as my own health and
   safety. I will become informed of, and will abide by, all such laws and standards for each
   country to or through which I will travel during the Program.

Finally, you will be held to your host university’s standards for student conduct. When
you sign the UM Assumption of Risk and Release form, you acknowledge that, due to the
unique circumstances of an overseas studies program “procedures for notice, hearing
and appeal applicable to student disciplinary proceeding at the University do not apply.”

By signing the MU Conditions of Participation form, students agree to return home
at their own expense if they are dismissed from the overseas studies program, and
acknowledge that they will not be entitled to a refund of fees or program costs if
dismissed from the program. Issues that can result in dismissal from a study abroad
program are the same issues that result in disciplinary sanctions on the MU campus; for

• Alcohol abuse
• Violence
• Academic dishonesty

MU has developed the following procedures for students who commit disciplinary
offenses abroad:

• The Incident report Form—for immediate use after any incident to describe the event
  and the circumstances surrounding it
• Written Warning Form—for a repeated offense, after the student has been given a
  Verbal Warning
• Sending a student home: Notification of Termination—for a repeated offense
  for which the student has received both a Verbal and Written Warning, or for an
  extremely serious one-time offense. Use of illegal drugs will result in immediate
  dismissal from your study abroad program.

Drugs/Illegal Substances
We repeat—use of illegal drugs will result in immediate dismissal from your study abroad
program. The average jail sentence in drug cases worldwide is about seven years. In
at least four countries (Iran, Algeria, Malaysia, and Turkey) the death penalty can be
imposed for conviction on drug charges.
The Law Abroad
While you are visiting another country you are
subject to the laws of that country. Legal protection
and personal rights that we take for granted in the
U.S. are left behind when you depart. American
Embassies and Consulates are very limited in the
assistance they can provide. They can, for example,
provide you with the names of competent attorneys
and doctors, but they cannot provide you with any
financial assistance in paying for legal or medical
services nor can they intervene on your behalf
in the administration of justice as seen from the
point of view of the host country. Bail provisions,
as we know them in the U.S., are rare in other
countries. Pre-trial detention without bail is quite
common. Prison conditions are often deplorable in
comparison with conditions in the U.S. The principle
of “innocent until proven guilty” is not necessarily a
tenet of the legal system abroad.

It is your responsibility to become familiar with and
obey the host country laws. At every MU and MU
Partner program site, there is a primary contact
person who is responsible for MU students (e.g.,
Resident Director, host university contact person, or
MU Faculty Program Leader). This person should be
your main resource in providing information about
host country laws that may differ from US laws. In
addition, US Department of State “Country Specific
Information” sheets often provide information
about host country laws in the section entitled
“Criminal Penalties.” For a complete list of “Country
Specific Information” sheets, see:
Packing Tips
With all of the formalities out of the way, now you must figure out what to pack! It will help to know the
customary dress of the foreign country. What is appropriate for men and women to wear? Are slacks
or shorts worn? On what occasions? Do teenagers wear jeans? Also prepare for the weather of the host
country. Will it rain often? Does it snow? Bring a few mementos from home, such as photos or recipes for
future moments of homesickness and to share with your host family and new friends. And finally, pack
lightly! At the end of your adventure you will need to bring everything back you brought over plus all of
the things you have collected while abroad. Resist temptation to buy new clothes before you leave; save
the money for new styles in your host country. You may feel more comfortable if you are able to blend in a
little. Take into consideration that you will be responsible for carrying your luggage through the airport, on
trains, buses, etc. Keep things simple to save you from stress later. Here is a suggested packing list:

• Sturdy clothes that can be layered                    •   Converter/transformer and a plug adapter
• Jacket or coat                                        •   Travel guides, a journal
• Fold up umbrella                                      •   Language phrasebook
• Comfortable walking shoes                             •   Contact lens solution
• Flip flops for showers                                •   Extra pair of prescription glasses and/or contact
• Sunscreen                                                 lenses
• First aid kit                                         •   Swiss army knife
• Money pouch                                           •   Film or extra memory cards
• Prescription and/or over the counter                  •   Towel
  medications (e.g. Tylenol, Imodium, etc…)             •   Battery operated alarm clock
• Condoms                                               •   List of emergency phone numbers
• Sunglasses                                            •   Photocopies of passport and other relevant
• Swimsuit                                                  documents

Several sources contributed to or were quoted or summarized in this handbook’s creation. We would like
to thank them for their assistance in helping to create a comprehensive study abroad resource.

•   IFSA Butler University                              •   Jacque Fernald-Leal
•   Missouri State University                           •
•   University of Nebraska-Lincoln                      •   University of Texas-Austin
•   University of Michigan                              •   Association for Safe International Travel (ASIRT)
•   Arthur Gordon                                       •   University of Colorado
•   Joan Wilson                                         •   University of Chicago
•   Gordon Homann                                       •   U.S. Center for Disease
•   Robert Booker                                       •   Control and Prevention
•   Judith Elliott                                      •   The World Health Organization
•   Jennifer Karlen                                     •   The Mayo Clinic
•   Pablo Mendoza                                       •   Broome Visitor Centre
What’s Up With Culture?                                                        
The Intercultural Press                                                    

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention                                                
Overseas Security Advisory Council                                                       
Columbia University International Affairs Online                                      
Foreign Embassies in the U.S.                                               
Foreign Entry Requirements                 
US Department of State Secure Online Travel Registry  
Lonely Planet                                                                   
Information for Students with Disabilities                                              

US State Department Travel Information for Students                     
Currency Converter                                                         
Electricity and Plugs Around the World                                   

Student Universe Travel                                                      
Budget Travel                                                                   
MU Contact Information
International Center                  +1 573 882 6007

MU Police Department                  +1 573 882 7201

MU Deans’ Offices

       Agriculture                    +1 573 882 3846
       Arts and Sciences              +1 573 882 4421
       Business                       +1 573 882 6688
       Education                      +1 573 882 8311
       Health Related Professions     +1 573 882 8011
       Human Environmental Sciences   +1 573 882 6227
       Journalism                     +1 573 884 8989
       Natural Resources              +1 573 882 4567
       Nursing                        +1 573 882 0278
       Social Work                    +1 573 882 6208

Cashier’s Office                      +1 573 882 3097

Office of Financial Aid               +1 573 882 7506

Office of Registration                +1 573 882 7881

Residential Life Office               +1 573 882 7275


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