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Study Abroad Planning
Before You Leave ...

Travel Documentation

Obtain a U.S. passport as soon as you decide to apply to study abroad. You need a valid passport to enter other countries and to re-enter the U.S. Processing an application takes 6-8 weeks, or longer during peak travel season. You may apply in person at selected post offices, at federal or state courts of records, or at one of the passport agencies of the U.S. Department of State. You can get passport information from the U.S. State Department.

For many programs, you also will need a student visa, depending on the destination country and the length of your stay. A visa is written permission to visit a country for a specific purpose such as study granted by the government of that country. The country-specific information page of the U.S. State Department has entry/exit information about the documentation you will need to enter different countries. You must check with the embassies or consulates of the countries you plan to visit to see if you need a visa. Links to embassies and consulates based in the U.S. can be found at Your study abroad program should provide you with information about student visas or other documentation you'll need. The Study Abroad Office is available to provide assistance, but you are ultimately responsible for obtaining the appropriate documentation and applying for the visa.


When shopping for an airline ticket to your host country, we recommend consulting and in addition to other airfare websites, a travel agency or your favorite airline. Sometimes these student travel agencies can get special student-rate ticket prices. If you plan to fly into a different country and travel overland to your host country, before you buy the ticket, check with your study abroad provider to make sure this is permitted by your student visa. In most cases, you will need a round-trip airline ticket to demonstrate proof that you are leaving the country at the end of your study abroad program.

U.S. Department of State Travel Registration

We strongly recommend that you register your trip abroad with the U.S. Department of State using their Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). Online travel registration is a free service provided by the U.S. Government to U.S. citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country. Registration allows you to record information about your upcoming time abroad that the Department of State can use to help you in case of an emergency.

Financial Aid

Students who need or want to use financial aid to help with the costs of study abroad should refer to the Financial Aid section and plan accordingly.

Canceling your SIUE Housing

If you will be studying abroad during spring or fall semester and live in SIUE housing, you will need to cancel your housing contract. On the Forms page of the Housing website, you will find the form required to cancel housing due to study abroad.

Academic /Financial Hold On Your SIUE Account

If you have any outstanding holds on your SIUE account, make sure to clear them ASAP. The International Programs Office will not be able to register you for your term abroad until your holds have been removed and your hold status remains clear. To receive a financial aid award through SIUE for approved study abroad, you must be registered at SIUE for the term abroad. You cannot study abroad and earn SIUE credit if you do not have all holds cleared and your registration in place before departure. Students participating in faculty-led SIUE study abroad programs will be responsible for registering themselves per their program leader's instructions.

SIUE Course Registration for Semester of Return

You are responsible for registering for the SIUE courses you will take upon your return from studying abroad. Before departure, students are advised to contact their academic advisor with a reminder that they will be studying abroad in the upcoming semester. Remind your advisor that you will need to complete your advisement for next semester and obtain your enrollment PIN via email. The Registrar's Class Registration page for additional class registration information and registration dates for upcoming semesters.

Health & Insurance

Visit a doctor and dentist to take care of any health issues before studying abroad. Obtain any specific immunizations required or recommended for the country(s) in which you will be studying and traveling. Also, obtain any prescriptions you may need along with a written copy of the prescription(s). See the Health and Safety section of this website for additional information and resources.

Students participating in affiliate CEA, AIFS, and Globalinks study abroad programs will be covered by health insurance that is included with and required by these affiliate programs.

Health & Insurance on faculty-led programs

On overseas faculty led programs sponsored by SIUE, students will be automatically enrolled in a specialized emergency medical insurance coverage plan for the duration of their program abroad. Insurance coverage is provided by Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI), an organization dedicated to providing insurance specifically to students traveling abroad. Purchasing this insurance coverage is required and the cost will be built into the program fee.

Writing Resources

While studying abroad, many students keep a journal of their experiences and the emotional and intellectual changes they go through. Traditionally this was done on paper, but today many students are choosing to keep an online journal or weblog of their experiences so that they can share with their friends and family all over the world. SIUE does not require students to keep a journal of their experiences, but we do encourage you to keep a record of your experiences and growth for your own knowledge. Students often like to set up these online journals or blogs before they depart so that they can write about where they are going and how they are feeling in the days leading up to departure. Here are some popular journal/blog sites:

Please remember that any information you put online can be accessed by anyone for years to come - including employers, parents, family members or criminals! Be aware of your potential audience when you're writing.

Other Writing Resources
You may wish to also write in a more public setting. Here are some organizations that recruit bloggers or writers to chronicle their experiences abroad:

Pre-Departure Orientations

Students accepted to participate in a direct, affiliate or exchange program will be required to attend a pre-departure orientation during the semester before their travel.

Students accepted to participate in an SIUE Short-Term Faculty-Led Program should consult their professor to learn about their orientation process.

Pre-departure orientations typically will cover:

  • Health and safety issues relevant to your study abroad program;
  • General and country/region-specific cultural issues;
  • Packing, money, and other pre-departure logistical matters;
  • SIUE administrative details related to study abroad.
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