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You have chosen your program, applied and been approved, gone through Macalester orientation and packed your bags. Now it’s time to get on with the main event - studying off-campus. Below are some resources for common questions and concerns that often come up while students are off-campus.
In addition to the research you did prior to departure, there are ways to help ensure your safety once you arrive abroad. In general, exercise greater caution about personal safety and property safety than you would at home. You should know the location of the nearest police, fire stations, and hospitals. More information on traveling safely is available from the U.S. Department of State and SAFETI’s Personal Safety and Awareness Workbook.
You should register with the embassy or consulate of your country of citizenship. If you are a U.S. citizen, you can enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) through the U.S. Department of State.
If for any reason you decide to withdraw from your program after it starts, a Cancellation/Withdrawal Form must be promptly submitted to the International Center. Please note that there will likely be financial implications for withdrawing.
Changing classes: On your Off-Campus Study Proposal you listed classes that you intended to take. These classes may change once your semester away begins. If there are any changes to your courses, email the new course titles to your Study Abroad Advisor and the Registrar’s Office. If you would like to receive major, minor, or concentration credit for one of your new courses, the chair of that department will need to approve it. Their approval can be emailed to the International Center and the Registrar.
Taking a class pass/fail: Just like a semester at Macalester, you can take one course pass/fail. This cannot be a course that you plan to count toward your major. If your program lets you choose this as a grading option, follow their policies. If your program doesn't have this option, contact the Registrar’s Office within four weeks of the start of your program.
Registering for Macalester classes while off-campus: While off-campus, you will register for the Macalester courses you will take the fall/spring after your semester away. About three weeks before registration, the Registrar’s Office will email you to make sure you can be contacted electronically while away. If you have internet access, then registration will be through 1600grand, just as if you were on campus. If you cannot access the internet, you can work out an alternative with the Registrar’s Office.
Other questions: Email your Study Abroad Advisor and/or the Registrar.
Database access: If you can get online, you can most likely get to the library databases to assist you with research while studying off-campus. Use links from the library website.
Get Articles: While the Library can’t ship books overseas, they will supply you with PDFs of articles you request via ILLiad. Requests can include things we have in our library. Just mention “off-campus study” in the comments box in the request form.
Ask for help: Use the “ask us” link on the Library site to send an email research question or chat with us online.
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.
Even though you are not on campus, you are still a Macalester student. These offices (and others) can be a resource even while you’re away:
Making the most of your off-campus experience
Many students cite immersion – cultural and/or linguistic – as one of their mains goals while studying abroad. Here are some suggestions on how to intentionally immerse yourself:
- Do you play an instrument? A sport? Have a hobby? Find an individual or group who share your interests.
- Working on learning a language? Find a native speaker of the local language who would like to learn English (or another language you speak) and take turns practicing and learning languages.
- Make a meal for friends, classmates, homestay family, professors, etc. Share your favorite recipes from home. This can be used as an entrée into discussing cultural differences – cuisine related and otherwise.
- Enrolled at a local university? Join a school club. If you’re in a student organization at Mac, chances are you can find a similar group abroad. If not, pursue a new interest.
- Are you on a group-oriented program and take all your classes with students from the U.S.? Studying on or near a local university’s campus can be a great way to meet local peers, hear about events and get a feel for what it’s like to be a local college student.
- Spending too much time with other students from the U.S.? Make a conscious decision to take yourself away from the group. This could mean dinner with a local friend or going to an event (lecture, concert, film, etc.) alone. Depending upon the local culture, it can be easier to make connections with locals when alone as compared to being with a large group of U.S. students.
- Do you find yourself spending most of your out-of-class time with people who are about the same age as you? There’s something to be said for getting to know people older and younger than you. If you’re living with a homestay family, hang out with the parents or grandparents as well as the children. If you’re not living with a family, but have made friends with local peers, ask to visit their home. You might hit it off with another member of the family too. People who are older than college students may respond well if you ask them to teach you something. Ask to learn how to prepare a local dish, watch a sports game, play chess, etc.
- Just like checking out citypages.com to see what’s going on in Minneapolis St. Paul, you should try to attend local events. Concerts, films, lectures, performances, festivals, etc. Can’t find anything? Ask professors, program staff and others for suggestions.
- Looking for something to do after class? In many countries, cafés, restaurants, community centers and other places where people gather post fliers. Join a book club, learn how to tango, join a knitting circle, etc.
- Interested in knowing how a certain aspect of life works where you’re studying, but find it’s not being explained in your classes? Do some research on your own! It doesn’t have to demand too much of your time and effort, you’ll learn something you didn’t know before, and you’ll connect with locals along the way. You could investigate how fresh produce reaches markets in the city where you’re studying. Or you could find out the story behind a statue that you walk by everyday.