This is actually going to be a more purely informational post of the blog. This is going to give some of the guidelines of what I personally had to do in regards of getting accepted into the study abroad program for going to Nagoya, Japan. The time-frame in which I did this was roughly two weeks, which is quite literally insane. So as you read this, keep in mind… I HIGHLY recommend you begin this stuff a full TWO semesters before you intend to study abroad, to give yourself plenty of time.
Now, for the fun stuff!
When I decided to begin applying for my study abroad semester, there was a LOT of paperwork I had to get going. Here are some of the big ones you will have to ensure you have to take into consideration:
- Passport – This is actually what allows you to visit other countries… super important.
- Academic Approval Form – Obviously you have to be a good enough student, generally requiring permission from your Academic advisor that its a good idea for your studies.
- Insurance – If you don’t have this from a job of some kind, or spouse or parent, you are required to get it from the school (at least I did). This is something that will cost a little bit of money for the time your abroad.
- Signed Cost Sheet – Generally, your Study Abroad Advisor has paperwork that gives you a rough idea of the cost of your study abroad seemster… in the case of Nagoya, it was going to cost me about 14k for the semester. This included Tuition, Books, Travel, Food, and Extra Expenses. The country you visit might differ.
- Proof of Application Submission – This is essentially a piece of paper that says ‘Hey, by signing this, I am DEFINITELY going to go!’ There is actually a processing fee for study abroad (for me, it was 150 dollars) that you pay, and it is non-refundable. So its kind of a paper that say you are indeed committed to going and aren’t likely to change your mind.
- Financial Aid Paperwork – Generally, you have to prove that you have enough money for the semester. For myself, I got some scholarships and student loans to cover my expenses for this once-in-a-lifetime trip. Money makes the world go round, and this is no different.
- Class Enrollment/Credit Transfer – Usually, you have to pick the classes you intend to take while you are abroad. This paperwork is then given to the head of your department for them to check it and see where those classes might transfer back into your degree. For instance – in Nagoya, I am taking a bunch of culture classes (food, culture, history of toyota company). These classes would transfer back for some humanities, social science and business classes. But your department head decides where these might fill in to your degree.
- Orientation – Not so much paperwork, but still important. You attend a meeting on campus where they discuss many of the rules and procedures for studying abroad, from insurance, to how to take care of yourself while studying abroad. Informative and helpful! … and for me, required.
Now, if you are managed to read this far, here is some general advice I have for you based on the experiences I had doing the paperwork.
- Study Abroad Early! Many study abroad classes tend to transfer back as general credits (unless you study specific things like language, or specific to your degree… ie computer classes for a computer degree) But the earlier you study abroad, the more likely it is that ALL classes you take will transfer back into your degree somehow.
- Get Started Early! Yes, this may sound like a broken record, but its true… the earlier you start getting the paperwork together, the better you will be. You will be more organized, far less stressed, and just have a better overall understanding of what you need for study abroad.
- Apply for Scholarships! Financial assistance is always there, you just need to go hunting for it! For myself, I had student loans to begin with, but they weren’t going to be enough. But with a couple short essays, and some project ideas, I was able to get myself a couple scholarships that were 5k each… that goes a LONG way for tuition and expenses (including play money) when your abroad!
- Get your Passport! Even if you won’t study abroad for a while (or perhaps even at all), a passport is a good thing to have! It allows you to visit other countries, and there is often a good bit of time necessary to get it processed and back to you. It does cost a couple hundred dollars, but its good for 10 years! And for my school, we had some classes that did short trips abroad (like a week in Germany one semester, a week in Italy the next). Having a passport allowed me to go on those without having to stress over getting a passport out of the blue.
- Save Money! Even if you get plenty of money from Financial Aid, ever dollar is going to help! It may help you buy one more souvenir for yourself, for friends or family, or may help cover bills while your gone. And speaking of that…
- Bills! While you are gone, take into consideration any bills you may have to pay for while you are gone. Rent, Cell Phone, Car Insurance, Utilities… these things do not magically disappear when you decide to study abroad! So like above, the more money you can save before your semester (or even year) abroad, the better you will be in the long run.
This is just some of the basic paperwork and general advice I have from what I experienced -before- I was fully ready to go on my trip abroad. In another post, I will cover my exact experience with paperwork for the University in Nagoya that I would study at, as well as a few hiccups that I happened to run into, so that you might be prepared, as well as perhaps avoid a pitfall or two yourself!