Applying to your Program
- Obtain all the necessary applications
- Read all the program requirements carefully
- Consult your academic advisor
- Begin writing your essay draft (if an essay is required)
- Request letters of recommendations from appropriate faculty right away
- Plan your finances, and be aware of costs that the scholarship or grant will not
- If you have any questions, be sure to ask right away
Preparing to Go
You will need money for your personal needs while you are abroad. Some programs provide meals; others do not. You must be thoroughly familiar with what expenses are covered by your program and what is not.
For your personal spending, you can take dollars to your destination and exchange money there. Beware: money exchanges found in airports and in other locations other than banks in many major cities may charge a high fee to exchange your money. And most will also charge a fee to change your money back to dollars. It is best, therefore, to exchange money in banks in increments, as you need it.
You can get money at ATMs in most destinations. You can also use credit cards for purchases. Please make sure to call your bank to let them know that you will be using your credit cards and debit cards. If not, the bank may block them when you try to withdraw money or charge items to your accounts.
Before you leave, acquaint yourself with the exchange rate of the country of your destination. Your bank should be able to provide accurate, up-to-date information.
Passports & Visas
Passports are required to travel to countries outside the United States. A visa may also be required to enter the country where you will be studying or volunteering.
To find where and how to apply for passports, visit the US government’s official passport website: www.travel.state.gov
According to the website information, “This site will allow you to find the nearest location to apply for a passport. It is provided by the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Passport Services/Customer Service, which designates many post offices, clerks of court, public libraries and other state, county, township, and municipal government offices to accept passport applications on its behalf. This page allows you to search by one of three search scopes – “Zip Code, State, or State/City.”
Allow sufficient time to apply for and receive your passport. According to the official website, “We are processing routine applications in approximately 4-6 weeks from the time of application.” Application fees range from $75 to $100.
Visas may also be required for your travel abroad. You should check the website for the consulate of the country you will be traveling to as soon as you are accepted into a program to determine whether or not a visa is required for you to enter that country. This is determined by the country from which you hold a passport, not by your residing in the United States (if you are not a citizen). Some countries may also require an “airport transit visa.” If you are changing planes in a country that is not the country of your final destination, also consult the website for the consulate of that country as well.
This is extremely important! You will be able to leave the United States without a proper visa, if required, but you may not be able to enter the country of your destination without the necessary visa.
Health: Vaccination, Insurance and Medications
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Check the Centers’ website for health-related information. You can search by country to determine if any immunizations/vaccinations are needed for the country of your destination. Do this as soon as you have been accepted in your study or volunteer abroad program: wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel
It is strongly suggested that all students have current health insurance while studying or volunteering abroad. First, if you are currently insured, check with your provider to see if you will be covered while you are abroad. If not, you should purchase temporary insurance. Many of these policies also cover lost luggage and lost tickets.
If you are required to have a visa to enter your country of destination, you will be required to have current health insurance when you submit your visa application with the appropriate consulate.
Many BCC students who have studied or volunteered abroad have purchased reasonably priced health and travel insurance on line through Access America (www.accessamerica.com). You are also free to shop to find your own insurer.
Be sure to take an ample supply of any prescription medication you will need during your stay as well as copies of your prescriptions in case your medications are lost.
US State Department Travel Tips
The State Department offers information and tips to all Americans who are traveling abroad, including specific suggestions for students who are preparing to travel, study and volunteer internationally. www.travel.state.gov – “Special Interest: Travel Info for Students”
Be sure to acquaint yourself with the electrical systems of the country where you will be studying or volunteering to determine what kind of adaptor (or converter, if needed) you will need to run your devices or appliances.
Using international phone cards can save you money when you contact your family and friends back home. You may be able to purchase cards before you leave the US, or you can purchase them once you arrive. Be sure, however, to use the local access numbers at your destination, and not the 800 number.
Safety & Emergencies
Use common sense, and do not place yourself in dangerous situations. Always try to go out in a group, especially at night. Listen to the program faculty and staff about where to go and where not to go. If you are unsure about a situation, ask the staff before going. Always make sure there’s someone on site who knows where you have gone. (Also see “US State Department Travel Tips.”)
Any student studying or traveling abroad as part of a BCC or CUNY program is required to sign and have notarized a waiver which details the conduct that is expected of you during your stay. This includes a prohibition against consumption of alcohol by minors. You must also be aware that you will be guests in another country and, as representatives of BCC and/or CUNY, your conduct must always be lawful and respectful.