Prior to departure and while you are overseas, you should consider a variety of important issues. These include:
Study abroad students are expected to be highly independent throughout the entire study abroad process. Although such entities as the Study Abroad Office and parents / guardians are available for your guidance, the more you can handle on your own, the more prepared that you will be for a study abroad program. Once overseas, you will be treated as an adult and expected to perform academically while maintaining appropriate, culturally-sensitive behavior.
Study abroad does not occur between flights. You must prepare for a study abroad program prior to departure. You should understand how to negotiate, stay healthy, as well as familiarize yourself with such phenomena as culture shock and reverse culture shock. You are expected to consult the Health and Safety pages of this website prior to departure, as well as the Pre-Departure guide prior to departure.You are also strongly encouraged to read about the city, country, and culture in which you will soon be immersed, prior to participating in a program. Having an understanding of the host culture can often ease a your transition between the United States and your study abroad experience.
- Overseas: You are expected to go to all of your classes. Similar rules will apply for skipping class overseas as in the United States. You should also be aware that courses and assignments may be different overseas than they are in the United States.You should expect such differences and should thoroughly prepare for all of your courses.
- At Pitt: You must ensure that you have planned for the semester after your return by working with your academic advisors on Pitt's campus. Many students will choose to pre-register for the following term prior to their departure as part of the contract process (may not apply for students who study abroad in the summer). Other students work directly with their academic advisors from overseas throughout the term to register and add/drop. You must pre-approve all of your prospective courses prior to departure. However, in the event that you wish to enroll in a course that has not been approved, you should consult with your academic advisor to approve the alternative. You should not expect that courses will be automatically approved and you should consult with your academic advisors in any circumstance regarding course approval.
You should have your transcripts sent to the Study Abroad Office at the following address:
Study Abroad Office
C/O your study abroad advisor
802 William Pitt Union
3959 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
- Overseas: Student housing overseas will vary widely and may not be the same as typical student housing in the United States. You are encouraged to be flexible and understand that space is often extremely limited. You should expect to be living with roommates while abroad - single rooms are the rare exception as opposed to the norm. If you are staying with a host family, you should be respectful and understanding of the family's belongings and home. You should abide by any rules put forth by your host family. You should contact your program provider directly for information regarding your housing prior to departure. You should also be aware of and follow any instructions regarding maintenance issues while you are abroad.
- Upon return: You may have to negotiate your housing on Pitt's campus while you are overseas. If you are planning to live on campus upon return to Pitt, you must contact Panther Central prior to departure to work out the details. If you are planning to live off-campus, you may need to sign leases while overseas which include shipping costs and a variety of signatures including yours, any roommates, and possibly co-signers.
You are expected to have read the Health and Safety pages and Pre-Departure Guide prior to departure. You are welcome to refer to the information therein throughout the duration of your time overseas. You should pay particular attention to the recommendations in the While Abroad section of the Health and Safety pages to help stay safe and healthy overseas. Similarly, while you may travel during your programs, you are expected to be familiar with the potential risks involved. You should avoid areas that are under current Travel Department Warnings and Alerts.
You should notify your financial institutions prior to departure. Otherwise, you risk having your accounts frozen due to the fact that your financial institutions may suspect identity or card theft. You are also encouraged to check with your banks and credit card companies well in advance of departure to determine whether or not your cards can be used overseas. Most large banks and credit card companies may be used overseas, but there are notable exceptions.
You should always be aware that theft may occur overseas. You are expected to guard your personal belongings including money, passports, laptops, iPods, etc. However, in the event that theft does occur, if your passport is stolen contact the U.S. Embassy immediately to begin the passport replacement process. Also make sure to cancel all credit and debit cards and have the bank reissue new ones. Your are encouraged to purchase theft protection plans to help defray the replacement costs of electronic devices.
You should always consult with the resident directors and point persons on your program to help troubleshoot any problems that arise. You are welcome to inform the study abroad office as well should such problems fail to be resolved expeditiously. Any feedback that you provide about specific programs helps SAO staff advise future students.