West Liberty University wants to congratulate you on your decision to study abroad. You will be joining thousands of other students from across the country who have chosen to take advantage of this life-changing experience!
This guide has been created as a resource to help prepare you for your study abroad experience. Be sure to take it with you as it contains useful information which you will need while abroad. We have included information on required pre-departure procedures at West Liberty as well as other considerations to help you make the most of your experience abroad.
If you have any questions or concerns as you prepare for your experience, or while you are abroad, please do not hesitate to contact either your faculty advisor or Beverly Burke in The Office of the Provost at 304-336-8004 or via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
PREPARATIONS FOR DEPARTURE
Required Documents A. Study Abroad Forms: All students studying abroad must complete the following pre-departure forms and information. These are due by the end of the semester PRIOR to your departure. Failure to complete these items can result in the loss of your ability to participate in your program, transfer credits back to West Liberty or to use financial aid on your program.
Available online (http://www.westliberty.edu/studyabroad/):
Study Abroad Application (study abroad service provider programs only)
B. Passport U.S. citizens must have a passport to travel outside the United States. You should apply as soon as possible to avoid any delays. The Passport Agency normally takes four to six weeks to process your passport application. If you are under a time constraint, there is an Expedited Service available for an additional fee.
If you already have a passport, please check that it has not expired and that it is valid for at least six months beyond your planned return to the United States. If you applied for your passport at the age of 16 or older, it is valid for 10 years.
Directions on How to Apply for a U.S. Passport
U.S. Passport Applications are available online at http://travel.state.gov/
Carefully read the instructions on the passport application.
Answer all questions, but DO NOT SIGN IT. Do not fold, staple or erase on the form.
Passport-size photos can be purchased at almost any camera store, drugstore, post office or AAA.
Proof of Identity: the passport application requires an original or certified birth certificate and a valid state or federal photo I.D., such as your driver’s license. Consult the instructions on the back of the passport application for special instructions regarding Naturalized citizens, U.S. citizens who were born abroad, and citizens who have no birth record.
Take the completed Passport Application, two passport-size photos, proof of identity and the Passport feeto your local main Post Office to complete the application. YOU MUST DO THIS IN PERSON.
Remember that your passport is your most important legal document while you are outside the U.S.—treat it with special care. Keep a photocopy of the identification page of your passport in a separate location from the passport itself. You should also leave a copy with your parent or guardian in case your passport is lost or stolen.
If your U.S. passport is lost or stolen while you are overseas, report it immediately to the local police and to the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. A consul can issue a replacement passport, often within 24 hours. Links to contact information for U.S. Embassies and Consulates may be found at http://usembassy.state.gov.
If your U.S. passport is lost or stolen in the U.S., report it to the Department of State by following instructions found at http://www.travel.state.gov/passport/lost/lost_848.html.
Most countries require a student visa before allowing you to enter. Each country has its own regulations, and in most cases your program sponsor will guide you through this process. If not, check with the closest consulate regarding specific visa requirements.
Like the passport application, the visa application and process can take several weeks so don’t wait until the last minute. Delays in obtaining a visa may cause you to miss your flight. Standard items usually required in the application are:
Visa application form
A current, valid passport
One or more passport-type photographs
The visa application fee
Letter of acceptance from the host institution
In addition, you may be required to provide evidence of financial support during the period of time you will be studying abroad, proof of medical insurance and/or a medical exam. Initial information for each country is available at http://embassy.org/embassies.
Please keep in mind that West Liberty University is not responsible if your visa is delayed or rejected. We highly recommend that you contact the appropriate embassy or consulate if you have questions about the visa requirements.
A. Absentee Voting Americans who reside abroad are usually eligible to vote by absentee ballot in all federal elections and may also be eligible to vote in many state and local U.S. elections. Eligibility depends upon the laws and regulations of your state of residence in the United States. To vote absentee, you must meet state voter registration requirements and apply to the state of your last domicile for a ballot as early as permitted. If possible, register for absentee voting before you go abroad. Check with your local voting authority for requirements and procedures. After you have registered for an absentee ballot, and if your state ballot does not arrive in sufficient time, you may be eligible to use a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB). You should contact the Voting Assistance Officer at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for additional information, or visit the Department of State website at http://travel.state.gov/travel/living/overseas_voting/overseas_voting_4754.html.
B. Income Tax Information Attention Year Abroad and Spring Semester Program Participants: If you have earnings which require you to file federal, state and local income tax returns, remember that you will be out of the country between January 1 and April 15. Although people temporarily living abroad may request an extension on the deadline for filing federal income tax, the extension is usually only until June 15. The best advice is to contact the American Consulate or Embassy in your host country for information on your tax obligations. You can file from abroad if you make arrangements with your parents to send you the necessary state and federal forms and other documentation. West Liberty University cannot provide this service. C. Power of Attorney If your signature is needed for any official or legal documents, such as financial aid monies, you should make arrangements for a “power of attorney” to be held by an appropriate person to act on your behalf. You can request a POA by visiting your local notary to fill out the correct documentation. Make sure to have the document notarized.
D. Medical Power of Attorney You may also wish to complete a medical “power of attorney”. A Medical Power of Attorney is a document that designates a person to make health care decisions on your behalf should you be unable to make such decisions.
E. Property Insurance Student travelers should consider travel insurance to cover the loss of money due to trip interruption or cancellation, as well as loss of baggage and personal items while traveling or living abroad. Note that many homeowners’ insurance policies contain a clause about this coverage extending worldwide, so check with your insurance provider. Normally a copy of a police report filed at the time of loss or theft will be required by the insurer before any claim will be considered.
F. The International Student Identification Card (ISIC) The International Student Identification Card, offered by STA Travel, is widely recognized and accepted throughout the world. Students enjoy discounts on travel, museum and cultural site entrance fees, as well as Travel Guard Assistance, which assists with the replacement of a lost passport and/or advancing funds for medical treatment, etc. The ISIC application and card is available online at https://www.myisic.com/MyISIC/GetYourCard/GetYourCard1.aspx.
To apply, you will need the following items:
TWO passport size photos
Photo I.D. such as a driver’s license or passport
$22.00 for the ISIC card fee plus shipping fee (payable by major credit card)
Verification of enrollment. Acceptable verification includes:
Photocopy of school ID showing validity for current academic year.
Photocopy of your transcript/report card/tuition bill receipt for the current academic year.
More information about the benefits of the ISIC card is available from the Council on International Education Exchange (CIEE.) CIEE can be reached at 1-800-2COUNCIL, or consult their Web site at http://www.ciee.org.
Health Issues When studying abroad your health and nutrition is a primary concern, since health and disease conditions vary worldwide. Natives have natural immunities against the bacteria and viral infections common in their areas whereas many travelers do not. Bacteria foreign to the traveler can have a detrimental effect on his or her health abroad.
Everyone’s body reacts differently to new environments. Some people gain weight, others lose it. Some are nauseated from trying new foods, while others can eat anything without getting sick. It may take a few weeks for your body to adjust to the new ingredients you will be eating. Nevertheless, don’t let your fears get in the way of tasting new foods—that is half the fun of learning a new culture. You may want to take your favorite over-the-counter medicines (i.e., aspirin or upset stomach tablets) for the first few weeks until you are comfortable with the surroundings and language. Make sure all medication is in its original sealed package when traveling overseas. Women, check with returnees concerning the availability and quality of feminine hygiene products in the country in which you will be living. You may find them difficult to purchase and/or extremely expensive. Take a supply to hold you over until you are comfortable enough with your surroundings and language to prevent unnecessary discomfort.
Going abroad is not a “geographic cure” for concerns and problems at home.Both physical and emotional health issues will follow you wherever you go. In particular, if you are concerned about your use of alcohol and other controlled substances, or if you have an emotional health concern, you should address it honestly before making plans to travel. Contrary to many people’s expectations, traveling does not minimize these problems—in fact, it often exacerbates them to a crisis stage.
Things to Take with You:
Health insurance identification
Health records (i.e., surgical/illness history, drug-related or allergies, blood type, special medications, etc.)
International certificates (i.e., vaccination record.) These are available through the public health department, your personal physician or a physician specializing in International Health Regulations adopted by the World Health Organization (WHO)
Copies of your prescriptions (including eye glasses)
Personal travel health kit (all medicines should be in their original, sealed Packaging)
A. Immunizations Different countries often require certain vaccinations before entry. The U.S. State Department (http://www.travel.state.gov) issues Consular Information Sheets regarding entry requirements and medical facilities. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also provides detailed information on their Web site (www.cdc.gov) as well as a list of routine, required and recommended vaccinations for Americans traveling overseas. A foreign country’s regulations are usually more concerned with the health of their own citizenry rather than with your health — they primarily want to insure that you are not a carrier of a disease, not whether you will contract a disease while you are there.
Make an appointment with the public health department, your personal physician or a physician specializing in International Health Regulations adopted by the World Health Organization (WHO) at least three months prior to your departure for vaccinations. Some vaccinations require six to eight weeks to take effect.
B. Health Certificate First, your immunization record will not be valid if it is not recorded on the International Health Certificate available from the CDC and approved by the World Health Organization (WHO.) It must be completed in detail. If incomplete or inaccurate, you risk being denied entry or revaccination at the border. Check with your physician to ensure he or she is aware of the International Health Regulations adopted by WHO. Your doctor needs to possess a “Uniform Stamp” to validate your International Health Certificate. The best resources are travel clinics, usually associated with university medical centers or public health departments.
If you are currently taking medication, be sure to take enough for the duration of your stay. You may not be able to find the same medication overseas. Due to customs regulations, leave all medications in their original labeled containers. Also, keep an original copy of the doctor’s prescription with your passport. These materials will assist you through customs and insure that you won’t break any laws of the country you are entering. If the medication contains narcotic substances, consult the consulate of the country where you will be studying to see if it’s legal.
Take your own syringes if you require regular injections.
If you have a special medical condition (including allergies to medications,) it is a good idea to buy a medical alert bracelet.
Beware of buying prescription drugs over the counter in the country where you will be living. Always ask careful questions about what you are purchasing.
D. Staying Healthy To help ensure that you have a healthy study abroad experience, please adhere to the following guidelines suggested by the CDC.
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
Drink only bottled water or carbonated drinks. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks and ice cubes. Cholera, Hepatitis A and Typhoid Fever are some diseases carried by food and water.
Only eat thoroughly cooked foods or fruits and vegetables you have peeled yourself. Avoid fruits and vegetables that do not have peels.
If you are visiting an area where there is risk for malaria, take your malaria prevention medication before, during and after travel, as directed.
Protect yourself from insects by remaining in well-screened areas, using repellents and by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants from dusk to dawn. Many diseases, such as malaria, are transmitted by mosquito bites.
To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep your feet clean and dry and do not go barefoot.
Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other STDs.
Don’t eat food purchased from street vendors.
Don’t eat dairy products unless you know they have been pasteurized.
Don’t share needles with anyone.
Don’t handle animals, especially monkeys, dogs, and cats. Avoid bites to prevent serious diseases such as rabies and plague.
Don’t swim in fresh water. Salt water is usually safer.
E. Additional Medical Information HIV, AIDS and SEXUAL SAFETY:
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a severe, often life-threatening illness caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV.) The incubation period for AIDS ranges from a few months to years. Currently, there is no vaccine to protect against the HIV infection, nor is there a cure.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 47 million people are infected with HIV worldwide. Because the HIV and AIDS are globally distributed, the risk to international travelers is determined less by their geographic destination than by their sexual and drug using behaviors.
HIV is preventable because it is fragile, and can only be transferred through blood or other body fluids: sexual intercourse, needle or syringe sharing, medical use of blood or blood components and from an infected woman to her baby. HIV infection is becoming increasingly heterosexual.HIV is not transmitted through casual contact, air, food or water products, contact with inanimate objects, or through mosquitoes and other insects. Specifically, students studying abroad should be aware of condom quality, HIV antibody testing, clean blood supplies, sterile needles, and medical facilities in the target country. Some countries deny entry to persons with AIDS and those whose test positive for HIV. Check with the embassy or the country you plan to visit for regulations or contact the State Department Office of Public Affairs at (202) 647-1488. Keep in mind, however, that U.S. test results are not always accepted by other countries. Also, note that individuals in other countries may not be educated to the same degree regarding Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs.) Condom Caution: Condoms, when used consistently and correctly, can prevent transmission of HIV. Condoms may be difficult to acquire and of lesser quality, particularly in Eastern Europe and in parts of the developing world. Take responsibility for yourself. The best prevention is abstinence. However, you may want to bring condoms with you, even if you are not planning on being sexually active while abroad.
Clean blood supplies: In the USA, Australia, Canada, Japan and Western Europe, the risk of infection with HIV through a blood transfusion is greatly reduced because of mandatory testing of all donated blood for the presence of antibodies to HIV. Other countries may not have a formal program for testing blood and sterile single-use disposable needles may not be available.
If you do need a blood transfusion due to blood loss while abroad, the blood should be tested, if at all possible, for HIV antibodies by properly trained laboratory technicians using a reliable test. If this is not possible, you should ask for a Colloid or Crystalloid Plasma Expander, which increases blood volume without the use of possibly contaminated blood supplies. If you provide assistance to an injured person while abroad, vigorous wash your hands if exposed to HIV. Students should also use gloves for protection.
Additional Resources for Information:
US Department of Health and Human Services: (800) 342-AIDS
US State Department AIDS Hotline: (800) 367-2437
Center for Disease Control National AIDS Information Clearinghouse: (404) 332-4559 or (800) 458-5231
Information on Malaria risk in specific countries can be obtained from the CDC Web site (www.cdc.gov ). There are several different strains of malaria. Your doctor should advise you on the best anti-malaria drugs depending on the country in which you will be living. No vaccine is completely effective or safe, and some may cause adverse reactions from minor to major illness depending on the individual.
According to the CDC, Dengue fever is the newest traveler’s disease and has spread rapidly in the last 20 years. The disease is usually benign and self-limiting. There is no vaccine or specific treatment available. It is transmitted by the Ades mosquito, which prefers to feed on humans during the day. Travelers should use protective measures such as mosquito netting and insect repellant for exposed skin.
Support Services A. AA World Services AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) World Services is located in New York City. Contact a representative at (212) 870-3400. Members of AA, who are going overseas, may access International AA Directory information online at www.alcoholics-anonymous.org. Also, any phonebook in any country will have AA services listed in the first few pages.
B. Counseling Services If you are currently seeing a counselor for any reason, it is important to inform your faculty advisor or your program’s advisor prior to departure. This is to ensure that the proper services are available for you at the host institution.