Before You Go

1. Attend the Pre-Departure Information Meeting/Orientation

For anyone studying abroad, the Pre-Departure Information Meeting is highly recommended.

What to expect:

  • Program Costs and Dates (Arrival, Departure, Independent Travel, etc.)
  • Academic Expectations
  • Health and Safety
  • Travel Tips

2.Exchange Information

Exchanging information as early as possible with others participants. Not only will you start your program with familiar faces, but this also helps with coordinating meet up locations, in case of an emergency or for any questions you might want to ask before you depart.

By communicating early, you also have the opportunity to plan ahead to bring and/or share supplies*

*See section on what to bring

Helpful Tips:

  • Group Messaging Apps/Facebook Page
  • Plan ahead
  • Carpool
  • Set reminders

3. What to Bring?

Before you go, it is important to evaluate what you’ll be bringing. Most people tend to over pack, so here is a list of essentials:

  • Passport copies and address booklet with names/numbers/phrases/map.

Never carry your real passport once you arrive, keep it in a safe location and always carry a copy.

  • Clothes: Pack light but bring clothes for different kinds of weather. Layering clothing is also convenient.

Note: The month of July in Paris features end of the season sales, if you plan on shopping pack light to avoid extra airline fees. There are laundry rooms provided.

  • Fan: Summers in Paris have been increasingly hot.

Generally the summers are much cooler than southern California (avg. temp. of July is 68 F/20 C) and as a result many older buildings are not equipped with air conditioning. Plan accordingly; this can be bought after you arrive or before you go, the same applies for toiletries.

  • Toiletries (Optional): Unless there is a specific product you use, you can always purchase your toiletries after arriving.
  • Travel Adapter/Converter

4. Accommodations

The accommodations provided will be on-campus dormitory.

There are two options for the program:

Option 1) Double

Option 2) Single w/ Private Restroom

Each room comes with its own wash room (includes sink/mirror/cabinets) and most come with mini-refrigerators.

Every floor to every other floor has a restroom (W.C.-toilet only) with a shower located nearby.

It is important to note that there are laundry rooms present, in addition to a community kitchen (equipped with stove, microwave, sink, etc.)

5. Getting Around

Public Transit

  • For the duration of the program, you will be given a pass (included in costs) that grants access on the metro and buses.
  • Many programs provide an orientation shortly after arrival explaining the transit system and general advice for your stay. Don’t be hesitant to ask any of these questions at a pre-orientation meeting or to anyone who has traveled abroad.
  • The group flight includes a transfer to your accommodations
  • Detailed maps can be found online
  • Research possible locations you plan to visit, including cost, travel fare and time.

6. Health and Safety

For any health and safety issues, please contact the ACCENT Center.

Appointments can be made for you with a nearby doctor, who can then give you prescription.

You have the option of filling out a form so your insurance can reimburse you for costs paid.

There is also the option of local pharmacies, which are located every other block. Pharmacies will provide you with over the counter medicine to hygiene/toiletries.

7. Helpful Hints

  • Notify your bank before you depart. Find out if your bank has any partnering banks in the country/countries you plan on visit. Find out if any fees apply to your withdrawals.
  • Bring comfortable shoes and make sure you are in good health. The amount of walking you will do during your stay is shocking, make sure you have proper footwear and have broken in your shoes.
  • Never keep any of your valuables such as your phone or wallet in your pockets where they can be easily accessed.
  • Always notify others where you are going and never travel alone.
  • Tipping is considered rude. A percentage is already calculated and included in your bill.
  • Make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months after your planned return date.
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Money Abroad Travel Tips

Banking and Credit Cards – if you haven’t done so already, let your bank and credit card providers know that you’ll be in [insert all countries you will travel to] from [insert start date and end date]. There are no costs associated with activating your card in other countries. This ensures transactions you make are not flagged as “suspicious activity.” If banks notice that someone in another country is making withdrawals from your account, they often assume your cards have been stolen and may cancel them to prevent fraud.

Ask your bank which banks in [insert countries] they have a relationship with. Just as an example, Bank of America has partnerships with Deutsche Bank (Germany) and BNP Paribas (France) and Barclays (England), which allow you to skip the charges if you find those ATMs.

If you will be using a credit card, ask your provider what the foreign transaction fee is per use. Most credit cards charge a 3% fee on purchases made abroad. If you have time, I recommend applying for a credit card that has no foreign transaction fee. I personally have the Chase United Credit Card, which does not charge me any foreign transaction fees.

Always pick the local currency — when you use your credit card abroad, you will often be given the option to be charged in your home currency (i.e., instead of being charged in the local currency, they will charge you in US dollars). Don’t choose to be charged in U.S. dollars. The rate at which they are converting the currency is always worse than the rate your bank will give you. Pick the local currency and let your credit or debit card company make the conversion. You’ll get a better rate.

Do not exchange your money in the U.S. You will have the chance to exchange money when you get to [insert country]. Please check the conversion rates on xe.com to make sure you are receiving the best rate, or at least something close to it. You can download the XE app.

Also (generally), ATMs give you the best exchange rate.

If you have time, I personally recommend opening a Charles Schwab checking account—they have no foreign transaction fees and you can use any ATM within the U.S. or abroad. If you are charged an ATM fee, Schwab will refund you all fees at the end of the month.

Cell Phones – let your cell phone provider know you’ll be out of the country. I usually ask my provider to deduct my non-use from my monthly bill, since I will not be using the cell phone services (talk, text or data) for set amount of time while I am out of the country (so why pay for them). They usually agree to give me a pro-rated charge for not using their services while I’m abroad. Also, make sure your cell phone is on Airplane Mode at all times to avoid roaming charges. You can still use the Wi-Fi feature while on Airplane Mode.

Baggage Fees—Note the baggage fees associated with your airlines.

Last but not least, check the weather and pack light!

Have a wonderful time abroad!

Grace Olguin, Study Abroad Advisor
International Center, Bldg 1-104
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
3801 W. Temple Avenue Pomona, CA 91768

Funding Your Study Abroad

One of the biggest challenges for students who are considering Study Abroad is financial planning– program costs, scholarship eligibility, deadlines, loans, financial aid budgets…

Our best piece of advice: do not let these reasons discourage you from pursuing the experience of a lifetime! There are many other creative ways to finance your Study Abroad, one being fundraising.

Believe it or not, many of the people in your circle (family, friends, coworkers, clubs/organizations, etc.) would be happy to feel like they were a part of your journey to Study Abroad by contributing a small donation that would enable you to participate in such an incredible experience.

These are some websites you can use to create an online fundraising campaign:

Make sure to share with people the important details— a short, one to two paragraph description that addresses:

  1. Where are you going?
  2. Why are you going? (your purpose, your goals, your dreams!)
  3. How will this benefit you? (academically, professionally, personally)

Many adults who did not have the opportunity to Study Abroad actually love to vicariously live through your travels! In exchange for a small donation, ($1, $5, $10, $25, or even $50) you can present incentives such as:

  • $1 to $5= Social Media Shout Out
  • $10 = Post Card from [Country]
  • $25 = Small Souvenir
  • $50+ = All of the above!

People may also be more willing to add a little extra if they knew exactly how you would be using your funding. You can present the total amounts of specific expenses associated with your Study Abroad program, such as the cost of your passport, food for a day, activities/entrance fees, your luggage, your flight, etc.:

  • $15 = Sponsor my entry fee for [program activity/museum/etc.]
  • $25 = Sponsor my meals for a day
  • $100 = Sponsor my passport
  • $300 = Sponsor 25% of the total cost of my round-trip flight

Also, set a deadline! Create your campaign goal to fundraise “$x,xxx” in only “X” weeks! The urgency and excitement of it, as well as your wonderfully written and inspiring story of why you want to Study Abroad, will encourage people to get excited and share your campaign with others.

Finally, share with EVERYONE in your network. This includes family, friends of family, your parent’s coworkers, your friends, your coworkers, your church, clubs/organizations you’re involved in, etc. Push a link to your campaign through text, e-mail, social media, etc. and set up a schedule to push out new content (photos of your destination, a status update about your purpose) that reminds people about your journey to Study Abroad and how they can help you get there.

Ultimately, people who love and support you will help you if you ask, whether it’s in a monetary or non-monetary way. Don’t be afraid to reach out!

Here are some articles and other creative ideas that can help you fundraise: