Markim Hall, Second Floor
Now that you have submitted your Off-Campus Study Proposal 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 off-campus for a semester or longer will go through pre-departure orientation the semester before they leave. There are four parts to orientation:
- Online Health & Safety course
You will receive an invitation to this Moodle course via email. You are required to complete the course before our in-person orientation session. It covers the basics of health and safety so that what is discussed in-person can be more substantive.
- Readings and Quiz
You will also receive these via email. Students are asked to read the following handouts before the in-person orientation:
10 Short Readings
- Orientation In-Person Session
This meeting is conducted by International Center staff and others from across campus. Topics covered include: Off-Campus Study & the Liberal Arts, Registration & Credit, Library Resources, Health & Wellness, Financial Matters, Research Abroad. The International Center will let you know when to come to orientation soon after you submit your Off-Campus Study Proposal. Attendance is mandatory.
- 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 usually happens immediately after the in-person orientation session ends.
Once your proposed off-campus study plans meet SARC approval, you will be asked to complete the following forms and submit them to the International Center: Parent Waiver, Student Waiver, OCR Form.
Change of Plans
If there is any change in your off-campus study plans, it must be communicated promptly and in writing to the International Center. If you still intend to study abroad, 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 abroad (i.e. cancel plans or withdraw), please fill out a Cancellation/Withdrawal Form. Please refer to the Handbook for Off-Campus Study for more information and deadlines.
Passports and Visas
It may sound obvious, but 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 off campus.
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.
Many programs and universities will require a health form as part of your confirmation materials. Macalester’s Health and Wellness Center will do study abroad 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 abroad, health insurance coverage, etc.
Center for Disease Control
Travel Clinics in the Twin Cities
Most programs include health and/or travel insurance as part of the program fee. The majority of US-based health insurance plans have very limited international coverage. Find out if you are covered by health insurance while abroad. Many companies have low cost student insurance plans that you can purchase. Read more about insurance and the Macalester Student Health Insurance at the Health and Wellness Center’s website.
Travel insurance Information
Taking medications abroad demands some forethought. Below are links to websites with information about safely transporting and using prescription medication while studying abroad.
Finances and Scholarships
Part of your preparations should be financial. Learn about costs associated with off-campus study. 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 Abroad
In addition to planning how you will pay for your semester abroad (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.
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 abroad. In order to ensure that this research meets Macalester standards, students are required to complete an online module. If they plan to use the research upon return to Macalester, they must also have approval from an appropriate Institutional Review Board.
Packing Your Mind
Macalester students are often well prepared for intercultural encounters, but in some cases, to subvert the cliché, “More is more.” 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 country of 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 Abroad
After spending a few months abroad, 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.