Travel preparations

Before you leave

1. Review information on the program and location where you are studying abroad, and pack all the important information and contact numbers you will need upon arrival. Make sure you keep the information related to travel and arrival easily accessible in your carry-on bag.

2. Look at the list of courses you want to take. If youíre able to register online before you go, make sure you do. If not, be ready to register for them as soon as possible after arrival.

3. Prepare to travel:

  • Make sure you have your visa.
  • Line up at least temporary housing before you go. Send in housing applications by appropriate deadlines if applying for on-campus housing.
  • Confirm your plane tickets.
  • Make sure you have a plan for emergency funds.
  • If you plan to drive abroad, in most countries you will need an International Driving Permit and your U.S. driverís license.
  • Make copies of all important documents. Carry one copy with you; leave another copy at home with your parents or other dependable person. Consider storing a scanned PDF copy of all these important documents in a secure online location (as an e-mail attachment or in My Webspace) so that you can retrieve them quickly in case the originals are lost. Include:
    • passport
    • visa
    • admission letter
    • housing information
    • driverís license
    • airline ticket
    • travelers checks
    • credit cards and company contact information in case of loss
    • insurance policies
    • names of doctors and dentists
    • medication prescriptions
    • eyeglass prescriptions
    • blood type and Rh factor
  • Register with the State Department (if you are a U.S. citizen) as a traveler abroad.

4. Designate a family member to be responsible for your financial and other personal affairs while you are overseas. For someone other than you to be able to manage your financial affairs, you may need to execute a power of attorney.

5. Make sure you have everything in order at UW-Madison before you leave: Pay on-campus bills, tuition and fees, and clear any holds.

6. One week before you leave, change your campus address through your MyUW account to make sure important correspondence does not go to the wrong address while you're away.

7. Consider obtaining student travel discount cards or other travel passes as needed. You may find the International Student Identity Card (ISIC) useful; it is available at STA Travel on State Street. The card can get you discounts on purchases, museum admission fees, etc. You will need a valid student ID, proof of student status, and passport or driver's license. The cost is $22. The card is valid for one year (January 1- December 31), so you may need two if your program dates extend past the expiration date.

8. Remember to pay any required fees, plan interviews and possible internship opportunities, and update information into the database (if necessary) at Engineering Career Services.

9. Pack!

  • Consider the climate and the culture as well as your needs. Learn about the local culture and take clothes that are appropriate and not too revealing, as this can be offensive or problematic.
  • Carry any prescriptions you need for the duration of your study abroad, with an accompanying letter from your doctor.
  • You may want to take along some products that you might not get overseas, but try to be flexible and avoid overpacking in terms of both clothing and toiletries.
  • Consider what adaptors you may need for any electronics you carry. In most cases, plugs need adaptors to fit into overseas wall outlets, but most laptops and electronics are now equipped to handle 100-240 volts. The U.S. electrical system provides 110 volts; many other places provide 220 volts; and generally, the power pack on most electronics allows the appropriate conversion of voltage (from 220 to 110) and current (from AC (alternating current) to DC (direct current)). However, you need to confirm this before you go in case you need a voltage transformer as well.

Many general packing lists are available online, including this packing list at onebag.com

Once you arrive

  • Let your family know youíve arrived safely.
  • Get in touch with the local academic coordinator for exchange students.
  • Make sure you carry out all needed requirements such as registration, obtaining an ID, etc.
  • Locate the resources youíll need locally, such as a grocery store, a phone service, etc.
  • Many students purchase cell phones in their host countries. You may want to wait until the on-site orientation, as some providers have discounted rates for groups.