Preparing to Go Abroad

Ready to go abroad? We’re here to help. We’ve created this section and required pre-departure orientations as a guide to help you prepare for your study abroad experience. Click on the links below to navigate directly to topics of interest.

Health and Safety Abroad

Keeping students safe and healthy while they are abroad is a top priority for Case Western Reserve University, and the Office of Education Abroad covers many topics on our Health and Safety website.

Knowing the Host Country

When students study abroad, they are representing the university and their home cultures to everyone they meet. It is important that both are represented well and being educated about the host country is the greatest way to do so.

Study Up! Here are some culture resources:

U.S. passport holders should also register (it’s free) for the U.S. Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to get real time health and safety updates once in-country.

Identity Considerations

CWRU Office of Education Abroad seeks to engage and support all students throughout their study abroad. As you research your study abroad options, consider how aspects of your identity might shape your experience. We encourage you to explore the resources we have on our Diversity and Inclusion website, including scholarships for specific identities.

Staying in Communication

Communicating while abroad can be tricky due to time zone differences and resources. Luckily, technology has made staying in touch easier. Students don’t have to spend a lot of money to call home – consider the following:

  • Skype: Make voice and video calls, and send messages for free if on Wi-Fi. 
  • Google Hangouts: Through every CWRU account, students can make voice and video calls and send instant messages.
  • Smartphones: with an international SIM card, consider using an application-based platform to communicate (examples include: WhatsApp, Voxer, KakaoTalk, Viber, Line)

We strongly encourage students to set up a communication plan with their loved ones to stay connected. Make sure it is sustainable (ex: Call mom every Sunday at 2pm EDT, Skype with friends Saturdays at 1pm EDT) and a commitment that can be kept.

Be sure to call or email once the host country is reached. Loved ones are anxiously awaiting news of arrival, too!

Money Matters

It is very important to budget appropriately for study abroad. While there are many free budget spreadsheets available online, the Office of Education Abroad (OEA) prefers this excel workbook and its corresponding website

The Office of Education Abroad has a few quick tips we have for financial security.

  • Call bank(s) and credit card companies before departing.
    • Find out what their international transaction fees are and if they have student accounts for international travel
    • Have phone numbers and account numbers for banks/credit cards somewhere safe (i.e. not with the cards!)
  • Carry some U.S. currency in case of emergency
  • Obtain some foreign currency before departing, if possible
  • Traveler’s checks are NOT recommended. Many retailers overseas no longer accept them.

For questions on federal financial aid, contact Nancy Issa.

Remember, there are many scholarships available to - look early and apply right away!

Packing Tips

Getting ready for study abroad adventure can seem daunting. What to pack? How much to pack? The general adage of: 1) lay out everything you absolutely need, then 2) only pack half, is a great rule.

But where to start?

We suggest:

  • Comfortable shoes
  • Comfortable, weather-appropriate clothes (enough for two weeks)
  • Favorite pair of jeans
  • A nice outfit for formal occasions
  • Vaccination record (copy)
  • Translation of medical conditions and/or allergies
  • Emergency contact list
  • Credit card numbers and their respective customer service phone numbers (remember to write down the international number!)
  • Some cash in local currency and U.S. dollars
  • Copies of passport (and visa, if applicable). Keep a hard copy and an electronic version
  • Additional form(s) of identification (student ID or driver’s license)
  • Prescription medication(s) and doctor’s contact information for refills while abroad
  • Enough contacts to last the entire program. For glasses, bring a copy of the prescription in case they break.
  • Copy of study abroad institution's Acceptance Letter to show the customs agent (if necessary)
  • Enough toiletries (toothpaste, contact solution, tampons, deodorant, etc.) to last two weeks
  • Small gifts that reflect the home culture to be given to professors, friends, 
  • A camera—kept in carry-on bags
  • Journal/diary
  • Outlet adapter/converter
  • Chargers for any electronic devices. (But do not bring hair dryers or anything else that heats up; it will be safer to purchase these in-country.)
  • Phrase book if going to non-English speaking country
  • Map to get from the airport to the destination comfortably
  • Use a backpack as a carry-on. Reuse it for day-outings or weekend trips.

Remember: students will purchase items while abroad. Allow luggage space to bring these items back. 

Most importantly: Students are responsible for carrying their luggage until their final destination is reached. Make sure the luggage can be comfortably carried up stairs and for a long walk.

For additional ideas, check out the following resources: