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Prepare to Go: First Time Travelers


 

Florence, Italy buildings and water and architecture in the NetherlandsUniversity of Wyoming Education Abroad provides many students with their first-ever international experience.  In many cases, our students who go abroad are the first members of their families to leave the US or to have a passport- what an exciting prospect!  Whether you have never left your hometown or have traveled abroad before but never long term, on a program, or without your family – we are here to guide you.

The perfect time 

In many ways, your college years are the best time for you to go abroad. 

  • Though you can go on vacation later, studying abroad is a deeper experience. Our programs are meant to help you have more contact with the culture you are visiting, and to learn more from it, than is possible on vacation.
  • Study Abroad will help you to get a job after you graduate.  Most employers are looking for some kind of international experience because it says that you are mature, adaptable, and can relate to people who are different from yourself.
  • You probably have fewer commitments (bills, mortgages, family, limited vacation time…) than you will ever have.  It is much easier to go away for three or four months now than it will be after you graduate.

Is this really for ME? 

If you feel uncomfortable or intimidated at the idea of traveling abroad because it is so new to you, or if you are concerned that you “won’t know what to do” on study abroad, here are some things to remember.


You have already successfully met similar challenges.

There are a number of parallels between leaving high school for college and going on study abroad.  In both situations, there is an adjustment period that can be challenging.  If you are reading this as a UW student, then you have successfully made (or are making) that transition.  Also, just as getting used to college life turns out to be enormously rewarding, so does getting used to living abroad.  After getting through the period of adjustment in both situations, most people say that they are very happy to have gone to college and/or to have lived abroad, and that their lives are much better for having achieved these things.


How important is previous travel experience? 

Worried about not having much (or any) travel experience? Not having traveled does not necessarily mean that you will have greater difficulty studying abroad than more experienced participants.  A first-time traveler who is organized, open-minded, and flexible often has a better time and learns more than an unprepared or irresponsible or inflexible person, regardless of their prior experiences.


Capri, Italy switchbacks on mountin and mountains and waterStudy abroad and your family 

Some students tell us that their families think that study abroad is unjustifiably expensive, that it is a vacation that will delay graduation, that it will make their sons or daughters forget their roots, or that it is too dangerous.  We would like your family to know that we understand these concerns and encourage them to consider the following:

  • There is a wide range in the costs of the 400 + programs that UW offers.  While some are expensive, many are very close in price to the cost of tuition and fees at UW.  You can find a detailed explanation of costs and financial aid.
  • Study abroad is a good investment, because having some kind of international experience is not really an “extra” any more.  Just as it has become more and more important to have a college degree to get a satisfying job, employers are more and more frequently requiring their new hires to have experience in relating to people from other cultures, to be familiar with other languages, and to be prepared to travel in their work.
  • Students take classes and earn credit while abroad, so as long as the student does reasonable planning before the program, going abroad should not delay progress toward graduation.  Read more on our Academics page.
  • While study abroad does change people in some ways, the changes are usually quite positive.  Many parents report that their sons and daughters come home more mature and with greater self-sufficiency than they were before going abroad.
  • UW Education Abroad is very serious about student safety and does not send students to places about which we have serious concerns. Please review our Health & Safety page.
  • Many parents visit their sons or daughters who are on study abroad (either during a break or just after the program has ended). They report that they find it very enjoyable to see a new place and also to see how much their son or daughter has learned from their experience.

A few common questions and answers 

What is a passport?  

An official identity document issued by the government of your home country. Having a passport, or being in the application process for one, is a condition for final acceptance to UW Education Abroad programs. Visit our Passports & Visa pages for more information. 

What is a visa?  

Visas are official documents issued by governments granting permission for visitors to enter a country. You may receive visa application information from your education abroad advisor, partner program manager or host institution; however, it is always your responsibility to acquire the visa and to be aware of policies and deadlines that may affect the visa process. If you do not know or are unsure if you need a visa, contact your Education Abroad Advisor. Visit our Passports & Visa Page for more information. 

How do I buy an airline ticket?  

Staff in the Education Abroad Office would be happy to talk to you about this.  Many UW students use on-line sources or STA Travel.

How do I access funds while abroad?  

Most people use ATMs to get local currency while abroad.  Go to the ATM and enter the amount of local currency (Euros, British pounds, Yen, etc.) that you want.  Your bank at home converts that amount into US dollars and withdraws the converted amount (in dollars) from your account.

What if I get sick?  

UW students going abroad are covered by a required and affordable health insurance policy. For more information see our UW International Insurance page

What if I don’t like it and want to come home early?  

This is very rare; in fact, most students say they wish their programs were longer. Our support continues while students are abroad and we are happy to connect students with resources on the ground in their host countries whatever the situation may be. It is always possible to leave a program early (though there are financial and academic complications).

How can I get ready to be successful abroad? 

The better prepared you are for a new experience, the more you can enjoy it and learn from it.  We suggest reviewing our Prepare to Go and Get Started pages for resources and tools to help you prepare. 


Education Abroad staff are happy to help you. 

If you are curious about studying abroad or have concerns about never having traveled abroad before, come and talk to us in Education Abroad. You can schedule an appointment or come to our Drop-In Advising Hours.

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