Note: If you are already done with the paperwork and are ready for the fun stuff, skip this post and read the next one!
So you’ve made the leap – you’ve decided to study abroad. While this is quite possibly one of the most wonderful decisions you will ever make, prepare yourself for some pre-travel work. This is assuming you’ve already done the work to get accepted (which may change from school to school.) In the case of the Kent State University’s College of Communication and Information, I had to complete the application form, provide two letters of recommendations, write a letter to the dean of my college, have at least a 2.7 GPA, and reassure the school that I was financially capable… all before I was even accepted. You can check the requirements of KSU College of Communication and Information study abroad here and even more abroad opportunities at this KSU page.
Now after you get notified that you have been accepted, do your happy dance, call your mom, and maybe cry a little. Then it’s time to jump through some more hoops. Here is a list of things you will need from this point forward.
- A Passport: This is the most important thing you will need – you cannot leave the country without it! As soon as you get accepted into your abroad program, apply. Mine took three weeks to be approved and sent back, but it could take up to a few months to get approved and returned so give yourself plenty of time. To print the application, go to this government page.
- Passport Photos: When you submit your passport application, you must include a passport photo. These are usually professionally done rather than taken at home because they require a white background and exact dimensions. These requirements are here. The photo can be taken at most places that offer photo services such as Walmart, Walgreens, or CVS. I got mine done at CVS, and was surprised at the cost. It is a bit expensive, so I had one passport photo taken and printed, then I used the CVS photo copier to make my own copies – this was a much cheaper option. To be safe, I printed eight copies.
- Student Visa: The student Visa was an easier process. This ensured that I could stay in the EU for four months without getting kicked out of the country. After I had my passport approved and returned, I gave my passport to the student director of global affairs and she submitted it for Visa approval by the Italian government. You will need to submit a couple of extra copies of your passport photo with your visa application. If you aren’t sure how to get yours, ask your abroad advisor, but make sure you get this! It will be put directly into your passport and returned to you.
- Copies, Copies, Copies! I made copies of all my important documents, and I made a lot of them. Put your passport, student visa, driver’s license, insurance cards, social security card – everything you are comfortable copying and might need- into a scanner and print out copies on computer paper. I had copies for each of my suitcases, my laptop bag, travel bag, purse, book bag, apartment, etc. Anywhere I went I had copies of these important documents so I was never without identity. Of course, be careful with these. Keep track of them and keep them somewhere safe.
While there may be other documents your advisor asks for, these will be the most crucial to have. It may seem overwhelming, but they are actually pretty easy to obtain (especially with the help from an advisor). So go get them and make sure you pack them away in your suitcase so they don’t get lost in the months leading up to your trip!