Before You Go

Now that you have submitted your Study Away Application to Macalester and applied directly to your program of choice, it’s time to start thinking about preparations. Below are some suggestions and requirements for your pre-departure phase.


All students who study away for a semester or longer will go through pre-departure orientation the semester before they leave. Orientation information will be made available in your Macalester Study Away Account. There are three main parts to orientation:

  1. Preparing for in-person orientation
    Before attending your in-person orientation session, you will want to review the following information (available in your Macalester Study Away Account): 
    • Health and Safety Moodle Course
    • Study Away Resource Packet
    • 10 Short Readings
    • Study Away Policies
    • Videos on Registration, Library Resources, and Research
  2. Orientation In-Person Session
    This meeting is conducted by International Center staff and others from across campus. Topics covered include: Health & Wellness, Safety and Sexual Violence, Financial Matters, Understanding Travel Warnings, and Maximizing your Study Away Experience. The International Center will let you know when to come to orientation, and attendance is mandatory.
  3. Meet with a Peer Advisor
    We will set up a meeting with a Peer Advisor, i.e. student(s) who previously studied in the same country, city or even on the same program as you. This happens soon after the in-person orientation session.

Required Forms

The semester before you study away, you will be asked to complete the following forms and submit them to the International Center: Parent Waiver, Student Waiver, OCR Form. These forms are available both at the below link and in your Macalester Study Away Account. 

Pre-Departure Forms

Change of Plans

If there is any change in your study away plans, it must be communicated promptly and in writing to the International Center. If you still intend to study away, but are making a change (i.e. change of program or semester), please fill out a Change of Program/Deferral Form. If you will not study away (i.e. cancel plans or withdraw), please fill out a Cancellation/Withdrawal Form. Please refer to the policies and procedures section of this website for more information and deadlines.

Change of Plan Forms

Passports and Visas

You will need a passport if you are studying at an international location. Apply for a passport or renew your passport if it will expire within the time you will study away.

You are responsible for obtaining the necessary visas for the countries where you will travel. Look up visa requirements for your destination well in advance of your departure, as some countries have lengthy application processes or include requirements that take additional time to complete, such as HIV/AIDS testing, immunizations, background checks, etc. Your program or host university can often help you through this process.

U.S. Department of State
NAFSA’s information on Visas

Health Preparations

Many programs and universities will require a health form as part of your confirmation materials. Macalester’s Health and Wellness Center will do study away physicals or can refer you to other physicians in the area.
Health and Wellness Center
11 Steps to Health-wise Travel

Research the immunization and vaccination requirements for your destination. Check with the Centers for Disease Control or your program for more information. Think about other health considerations such as visiting a travel clinic before you go, accessing health care while away, health insurance coverage, etc.
Center for Disease Control
Travel Clinics in the Twin Cities

Most study away programs include health and/or travel insurance as part of the program fee. This insurance may include coverage toward medical treatment, emergency services, medical evacuation and repatriation, and evacuation in cases of political unrest or natural disaster. Please consult your individual program for details, and note that in many cases, you will need to file a claim for reimbursement of insured expenses. If your study away program does not include an insurance policy which meets Macalester's standards, the International Center will purchase a plan for you through iNext.

iNext Summary of Coverage

We advise that you maintain your US health insurance during your study away semester. Your study away program insurance will not cover you in the US, should you return for any reason.

Read more about insurance and the Macalester Student Health Insurance at the Health and Wellness Center’s website.

Travel insurance Information

Taking medications during study away demands some forethought. Below are links to websites with information about safely transporting and using prescription medication while studying away.

Traveling Abroad with Psychiatric Medication
Medications and International Travel

Finances and Scholarships

Part of your preparations should be financial. Learn about costs associated with study away. You are encouraged to apply to scholarships. You are responsible for paying a program’s deposit out of pocket in order to hold a place on the program. Read more about national, program and Macalester opportunities in our Scholarships section.


Money and Banking

In addition to planning how you will pay for your semester away (tuition, housing, airfare, etc.), you should think about how to get cash for everyday expenses. Options include: ATMs, credit cards, travelers cheques (now less commonly used).

You will also want to have a plan for how to store cash. Money belts and luggage locks are good options. It’s also best to not put all your cash in one place.

ATMs are often the most convenient way to get cash while traveling. However, fees can really add up. Find out if your bank is part of an international network. If it is, you could avoid some out of network charges. Security with ATMs is also an issue. Go to ATMs during the day or during bank hours. Whenever possible, try to use an ATM inside a bank instead of one on the street. Ask program staff or other locals how they decide whether an ATM is safe.

Credit Cards
Inform your credit card company about your travel plans. Otherwise they might put a hold on your account, thinking your card has been stolen. Credit card use varies widely by location. Find out where it’s safe to use a credit card and only use it there. Before leaving, it is also important to find out how to cancel your cards quickly in case they are stolen.


Many Macalester students do research while studying away. In order to ensure that this research meets Macalester standards, there are two important steps for students to take. First, students planning to do research while on study away are required to complete an online module on responsible conduct of research. Students will be emailed with information about RCR the semester before they study away. Second, if students are planning to use the research upon return to Macalester, they must also have approval from an appropriate Institutional Review Board.

IRB at Macalester

Packing Your Mind

You may have spent a lot of time and energy preparing to leave, but you are not really ready to go until you have spent some time packing your mind and your imagination for this specific experience.

  • Talk with Macalester faculty, staff and international students who have lived and studied in your destination.
  • Read at least one novel (classic or modern) or history of your destination.
  • Read travel books.
  • Take tools for your memory and imagination, such as: cameras, a blank travel journal, or sketchpads and drawing materials.
  • Keep up to date on current events.
  • Reflect on who you are, what you value, your routines, and the way you interact with others. Based on what you know about your destination, what challenges do you foresee? How do you anticipate adapting to them?

Extending Your Time Away

After spending a few months on study away, students often find they have the desire to stay longer or go back. There are a number of scholarships and fellowships that can help you do just that. Students going abroad their junior year should take particular note of opportunities for seniors, including Fulbright Grants and the Watson Fellowship.