All students who apply for an education abroad program should have passport that will be valid for at least 180 days after the END of their programs. Johns Hopkins strongly encourages you to apply early for your passport as it may take up to six weeks to process your application or renewal. Information about the U.S. passport application process can be found at http://travel.state.gov/passport
Citizens of other countries residing in the United States should contact the nearest consulate of their country for passport information.
A visa is official permission by a foreign government to visit that country for a specified purpose and limited time. Usually a visa is stamped onto a page of your passport. Most countries require a student visa for students spending more than 90 days in country. Some countries require visas for all U.S. or citizens of specified countries to enter the country at all. In most cases, the sponsoring university or program provider will send you information and the supporting documentation necessary for your student visa. You can obtain information on visas and visa applications from the consular websites for the host country in which you will be studying.
A convenient link to embassies and consulates in the United States is http://www.embassy.org/. Requirements for student visas change regularly, so refer to consular websites, especially if you are responsible for obtaining your own visas for a program abroad. For up-to-date information on visa requirements for U.S. citizens, consult the Department of State website, Foreign Entry Requirements, at http://travel.state.gov/
It is important to discuss plans for communication with your friends and family before leaving the country. The first step is to plan when and how you will contact your family upon arrival in your host country. It is also important to have a system in place for getting in touch in case of an emergency.
Please keep in mind that the more time you spend communicating with family and friends back home, the less time you spend immersing yourself in your host culture, one of the most important aspects of the study abroad experience.
Students typically have a couple different options for cell phone usage in their host countries:
- Use your U.S. smart phone with a SIM card from your host country
- Use a cheap, rechargeable cell phone from a local service provider abroad with a “pay as you go” plan.
Option 1: If you want to use your US phone, please remember that you have to unlock it before you arrive abroad. Be sure to contact your cellular phone provider for more details. Also remember that using data while abroad can be extremely expensive so be sure to look into different plan options as well as consider turning off your data and only using the internet when connected to wifi.
Prior to leaving the U.S., we would recommend that you download any apps on your cell phone to facilitate communication with family and friends back home (WhatsApp, Viber, Google Hangouts, Skype, etc.). Regardless of whether you plan to use your U.S. cell phone with an international SIM card or just use it when connected to wifi, apps will likely be the easiest and cheapest way to connect from people at home. If you have limited access to wifi or receive a weak signal, however, this may not be the most effective option.
Option 2: Many service providers offer ‘pay as you go’ programs, which don’t require contracts or minimum commitments, and offer good deals on packages combining a mobile phone, SIM card and calling credit. You can purchase minutes and are not charged for incoming calls or texts. You can add more minutes to the plans as needed. This usually tends to be a cheaper option than using cell phones from home and the phones are much cheaper and easier to replace if stolen. Remember that without the internet at your fingertips, it will be easier to engage more fully in your host culture.
Email will be the primary method of emergency communication between Johns Hopkins and JHU students abroad. Hopkins students should forward your JHED accounts to whatever email account you will be using abroad. We also recommend that you clear your mailboxes regularly so you can receive communications from Hopkins, your friends, and families.
One of the benefits of studying abroad is that it forces you to learn more about managing your personal finances. Overseas travel presents you with a myriad of opportunities (travel, gifts, souvenirs, concerts, clothes) that will separate you from your money. Here are a couple of general tips and more specific information on ways to manage money abroad
- Discuss your budget and spending with your parents/guardians before you leave
- Have some local currency when you arrive in your host country.
- Research transaction fees on ATM cash withdrawals and credit card charges abroad and budget accordingly.
- Notify bank(s) and credit card companies that you will be abroad with dates and locations.
- Review procedures for reporting and replacing a damaged, lost or stolen debit or credit card
- Photocopy front and back of all credit and debit cards. Keep one copy in the U.S. with family, one copy in a safe place abroad but separate from the original document, and save scanned copies in your email
Don’t over pack! If you can’t carry everything up and down a flight of stairs by yourself, you are taking too much. Be sure to check the luggage rules and restrictions for your airline before you depart, as there are likely to be weight, size and number restrictions. If you exceed these restrictions, you will have to pay a substantial surcharge. If you plan to travel while abroad, consider bringing a smaller collapsible bag for weekend trips as well as refillable travel-sized containers for toiletries.