Do I receive direct credit or transfer credit from my study abroad program?
Direct credit programs are typically UA faculty-led summer programs, but there are exceptions. Direct credit courses show up as UA courses in UAccess during the term a student is abroad. Direct credit programs give students UA-specific course credit because the courses offered abroad are equivalent to UA courses. Grades earned in direct credit programs are calculated into the University of Arizona GPA.
Transfer credit programs mean that you take courses at a foreign institution and then transfer the courses back to UA as transfer credit. In order for UA to give you credit, you must earn the equivalent of a "C" grade or higher. (If you are a graduate student, then you must earn the equivalent of a "B" grade or higher.) Grades earned are not calculated into the University of Arizona GPA.
If you don't know whether your program receives direct credit or transfer credit, then ask your study abroad coordinator.
How many credits should I take when I am abroad?
This depends on your program. Most programs require that you take the equivalent of 12 units for semester programs or 6 units for summer programs. This said, there are some programs which require that you take more than this minimum requirement.
If you are going on an exchange or direct enroll program, then it's important that you understand the equivalency of your study abroad credits. For example, if you study in Europe, 2 ECTS credits equals 1 UA unit; however, in Japan, 1 credit usually equals 1 UA unit. Understanding the credit equivalency for your program will help you know how many courses you need to take.
How do I register for my study abroad courses?
You do not register for your study abroad courses in UAccess. 1-2 months prior to the term you are going abroad, SASE will register you either directly in your courses (direct credit) or in SA units (transfer credit).
SA (study abroad) units are a transfer credit placeholder to keep you active in the UA system. They do not indicate credit already earned nor the exact number of units you intend to take while abroad; it is simply a placeholder showing that you are registered as a full-time study abroad student. This is a non-unit bearing, non-gradeable holding category. After the UA receives your transcript, International Admissions or the Registrar will evaluate the credits for equivalent transfer credit.
Before you leave, double check that either your UA courses or SA units appear in your UAccess account and that you are not still registered for UA courses in Tucson!
I would like to change the courses that I selected on my Course Selection Sheet. How do I do that?
By now, you have already met with your academic advisor(s) who have approved your study abroad courses by signing your Course Selection Sheet. If you would like to add a class that has not been signed-off on your Course Selection Sheet, then you should contact your academic advisor who can re-approve the course. Make sure to show your academic advisor a course description for the course. Your advisor can sign a new Course Selection Sheet, or you can do this via email. In either case, make sure to keep any changes to your course approvals in writing and submit such written approval to your study abroad coordinator who will keep it in your file.
For helpful academic advising information including course selection sheets, upper versus lower division credit, general grade conversion information, and a list of direct credit programs, please see the Academic Advisors and Staff page.
Where do I buy the textbooks that I will need for my study abroad program?
It depends on the program, but for most exchange and direct enroll programs, you will buy your books after you arrive in your study abroad country. If you are going on UA faculty-led or third party-provider programs, then you will most likely buy your books in the U.S. prior to your departure.
What type of grading system will I be under while I am abroad?
UA faculty-led courses will be under the UA grading system and will earn regular UA grades of A, B, C, D, or E. Some courses may also receive Alternative grades of S, P, F. See the UA course descriptions for exact course grading systems.
Exchange, direct enroll, and third-party provider programs will be graded according to the grading system of the country to which you are going. It is important that you understand your study abroad country's grading system. Remember that for these programs, you must earn the equivalency of a "C" grade or higher (or "B" grade or higher if you are a Graduate student). If you are unsure of your country's grading system, it is best to ask your study abroad coordinator.
How do I pay for my study abroad program fees?
You will pay for your study abroad program fees through your UAccess account. (If you are a non-UA student going on a UA study abroad program, then you will do this as well. You will need your UA SID and PIN to access your UAccess account.) Your study abroad program fees will appear on your UA student account approximately 2 months prior to the term when you are leaving.
When is the payment deadline?
Upon submission of your study abroad application, you were billed a study abroad non-refundable deposit (again, charged to your UAccess account). You should have paid this by now.
You must pay the rest of your study abroad program fees within 30 days of being posted to your student account, and at least 30 days prior to your departure. The only exception to this rule is if you plan on using federal financial aid (Pell Grant, Stafford Loan, etc.) to pay for part or all of your study abroad fees. Please read the next question for further details regarding using financial aid.
For further details regarding Study Abroad payment deadlines and policies, go to the Financial Information page.
I plan on using financial aid (Pell Grant, Stafford Loan, etc.) to pay for all or part of my study abroad program. What do I need to do?
You must submit a Study Abroad Financial Aid Worksheet to the UA Office of Student Financial Aid. This worksheet is available in your online application profile.
Summer Students: You must also submit the Summer Aid Application form. This form is usually available on the UA Office of Student Financial Aid website in late March, and is also submitted directly to the UA Office of Student Financial Aid.
Your UA financial aid money will be disbursed to your UA student account approximately one week prior to the beginning of the regular UA term start date. (This is based on the regular UA calendar, not on your study abroad program start date.) Remember that any fees which are not covered by federal financial aid must be paid in full 30 days prior to your program start date.
I need to cancel from my program. What is your cancellation and tuition/fee refund policy?
If there is any indication that you may be cancelling from your program, then you MUST contact your study abroad coordinator ASAP. Please carefully read the UA Study Abroad Cancellation Policy that you completed as part of your application. Cancellations or withdrawals must be made in writing to Study Abroad & Student Exchange.
How will I get cash while I am abroad? Can I use my debit card?
It is important to have at least 3 forms of "money" at all times, just in case some options cannot be accessed. The most common forms of "money" are debit cards, credit cards, cash (US or foreign), and local bank accounts. What you choose to use is dependent upon how long you will be staying and where you will be going.
If you have a major debit card (Visa or Master Card), there are ATMs in major (and lots of minor) cities in the world. Withdrawing money using your debit card is a lot more cost-effective than making wire transfers and safer than bringing a lot of cash with you. If you plan to withdraw money from a U.S. bank account, make sure that there are ATMs in your host city which are on NYCE, PLUS, or CIRRUS. Also, make sure to notify your bank before you leave home as your bank may put a hold on your card if they see unusual card activity. Be aware that the ATM machines may charge a high usage fee and may not always reliable (especially in developing countries).
In addition to using your debit card to withdraw cash, many students use credit cards. Credit cards often give you the best exchange rates, though many small restaurants, stores, and cafes may not accept them. Make sure to find out which card is most commonly accepted in your host country. Again, consult with your credit card company before you leave home to avoid account holds, which may be activated due to unusually activity on your card. Be aware that credit card fraud is a reality all over the world.
Can I work while I am studying abroad?
Some countries will allow you to work part-time on a student visa. However, SASE promotes and expects students to focus on their full-time studies. The labor laws of many countries may not allow you to work while you are in their country, so it is important to know the laws and to be realistic about the time and commitment working abroad may take. Furthermore, it can be difficult to find work as a foreigner or without knowing the local language.
Travel and Housing
Do I need a passport?
Yes! You can start the application process by reading the following information from the U.S. State Department. It can take 8-12 weeks to obtain your passport, so be sure to start the process very early! You can apply for a passport on campus at UA Passports, located at 935 N. Tyndall Avenue.
What is a visa? Do I need one?
A student visa or residence permit is usually an entry stamp placed in your passport. This allows you entry into a foreign country and reside as a student. A student visa or residence permit is issued by the country's government prior to arrival. Visa requirements vary from country to country depending on the length of time and purpose of your stay. You will need to contact the nearest consulate for the country you will be visiting and ask about the visa requirements. Please check with your SASE coordinator to inquire about whether your program requires a student visa or permit.
Who makes the travel arrangements for my program?
Study Abroad and Student Exchange does not arrange travel for the majority of its study abroad programs. If travel is included, it is indicated in the program description. In general, it is fairly easy (and usually cheaper) for students to make their own travel arrangements.
It is important to note the actual dates of your selected program, so that you arrive when your housing is ready and when the orientation begins. Also consider the possibility of traveling either before and after the program. Check with the travel agent or online company regarding ticket restrictions/conditions and change fees before you purchase a ticket.
Where will I live?
Depending on the program, students typically live with a host family, in residence halls, or in apartments. Some programs offer several options. In most cases, a representative at the host institution organizes the housing for you as part of the application process. If you are going on an exchange or direct enroll program, then you will most likely have to work directly with the foreign university to apply for housing.
Should I make a copy of my passport and visa and leave the copies with my parents or other relative?
Health and Safety
For additional information on health and safety, please go to our Health and Safety Abroad page.
What steps should I take to protect my health while I'm abroad?
All students participating in a UA study abroad program must complete the Study Abroad Health Information Form, which is provided in the online application once you are accepted to your program.
Below are some steps that will help you protect your health while you're abroad:
- Educate yourself about current health issues where you will be going and regarding available medical services. Please search for information on the country/countries you will be traveling to using the following websites.
- Register your travels with the State Department Smart Travelers website so that the U.S. government will know your whereabouts abroad in case of an international emergency.
- Keep a copy of the Health Information Form to take abroad to give to your Resident Director or homestay provider so that they will have this information in the case of an emergency.
- If you are a student with a disability requesting accommodations for your study abroad experience, you will need to register with the sponsoring institution's disability resources. If you are attending a UA-sponsored program, please contact Disability Resources at 520-621-3268, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do I need special vaccinations for my study abroad program?
Depending on the country, some study abroad programs will require that you get specific vaccinations. Talk to your study abroad coordinator for further information, and consult with Campus Health Service Travel Clinic which will advise you regarding the need for immunizations based on your study abroad destination.
I take special medications. How do I get medicine while I am abroad?
If you require special prescription drugs you must take an adequate supply with you and know how to administer them. You should also carry a copy of the prescriptions, including the generic names for the drugs, and written instructions from your physician in case of emergency. It may also be useful to have a translation of your prescription in the local language. If a medication is unusual or contains narcotics, carry a letter from your doctor attesting to your need to take the drug. If you have any doubt about the legality of carrying a certain drug into a country, consult the embassy or consulate of that country first. Pack medications in your carry-on luggage. It is appropriate to notify your on-site coordinator of any medications you are taking or any special health concerns.
What if I have a medical emergency abroad?
Being properly prepared will make a medical emergency abroad much easier to manage. What is important is understanding your new environment so that you can quickly and effectively manage a medical emergency. The following points will help ensure that you are prepared:
- While settling in to your new home abroad, make sure to research contact information for local clinics, hospitals, and emergency services. Keep a card in your wallet filled out with all local and international medical and support service contact information.
- Your study abroad program will have on-site staff that you can contact in case of questions. In the case of a medical emergency, it may be helpful to contact your on-site staff for their recommendations.
- Severe emergencies should be reported to the UA by calling the SASE office at 520-626-9211. After-hours emergencies should be reported to the UAPD at 520-621-8273. While the UA is limited in managing medical emergencies abroad, you should contact the UA in extreme situations.
- U.S. embassies abroad can direct U.S. citizens to medical care in a foreign country. U.S. embassies may also provide additional assistance in cases of severe emergencies.
Does The University of Arizona Code of Conduct apply to me while I am away from campus on a UA study abroad program?
Yes. Although you will be abroad, you are still a University of Arizona student, and as such, you must abide by the UA Code of Conduct. There can be very real consequences for not abiding by the UA Code of Conduct. Remember that you are an ambassador and representative of the University of Arizona!
Should I take my laptop?
Many study abroad programs will give you access to computer labs, so having a laptop is not 100% necessary. This said, if you are someone who likes to do homework in the evenings, late at night, or early in the morning, then you probably will want to take your laptop as many computer labs may not open during these times or on the weekends.
This said, do not expect to have internet access from your room. Many foreign countries have WiFi in internet cafes and on university campuses, but many homestays and apartments abroad may not have internet access.
Will my U.S. cell phone work in foreign countries?
Talk with your cell phone provider to find out what options you have for using your U.S. cell phone while abroad. Many students choose to buy or rent a cheap cell phone once they arrive in their study abroad country.
How many suitcases should I take and do I need to pack sheets and towels?
Pack light! Airlines have very strict baggage limitations, so it is imperative that you check your airline to see how many pieces of luggage (usually only 2) and the maximum weight allowance per luggage (usually 50-70 lbs per suitcase). Remember that you will most likely accumulate souvenirs while abroad and so you need space to bring back those items, and shipping packages is very expensive. Housing with most study abroad programs will provide you sheets but you may need to provide your own towel.
Will I need an electronic converter for my electronic devices?
In the United States, we use 110v electronic system. Many countries abroad use other electronic systems such as 220v or higher. Laptops and cell phone chargers, for example, are compatible with both systems, but you need to check your electronic equipment to ensure that is compatible with both systems. If your electronic device (such as a flat iron) is not compatible, then you need to buy a electricity converter.
This said, you will need to buy a plug adaptor (for most countries), as the outlets in many foreign countries are different than ours in the United States. It is frequently easier to buy a cheap electronic devices (blower dryers, flat irons, alarm clocks, electric razors, etc.) in the country, where you are studying, instead of purchasing converters and adaptors for your U.S. devices.
I am staying with a host family. Should I bring them a gift?
It is a very nice gesture to bring your host family a gift from the United States. You do not have to spend a lot of money, but something thoughtful is usually appreciated. Arizona and UA souvenirs make good gifts for host families.
Where can I learn more about the country I am going to?
The more you learn about your study abroad destination prior to your departure; the better off you will be when you get there. You can by read books and institutional website, buy travel guides, and meet international students or program alumni, who know the country where you will be studying. The UA campus has many wonderful international student clubs.
What is Culture Shock?
Experiencing new cultures and obtaining a better understanding of your own culture can result in some of the most positive, life-changing experiences you will have while studying abroad. While the introduction to a new and foreign culture will greatly benefit you, it can also be overwhelming. Cultural differences can be so great that you may need extra time to adjust. This is normal. The new cultural norms that you encounter may be so different that they seem "shocking" in comparison to cultural norms back home. Your reaction of feeling "shocked" by a culture's attributes can manifest itself in mood swings ranging from anger, to depression, to panic.
Prepare yourself for some down times; they happen to practically everyone trying to make it in a culture they have never lived in before. Realizing that what you are feeling is natural and that other students are probably experiencing the same thing will help you to avoid discouragement. Culture shock has its ups and downs, good days and bad--but you will pull through. Many students studying abroad experience times when they feel depressed. However, the overwhelming majority comes away from their experience abroad even stronger and better adapted for living and working with others. One of the best ways to work through culture shock is to keep yourself busy, and try to be open about your feelings with friends and family. Remember program directors and other staff are willing to listen and help where they can.