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FAQs about Study Abroad & Exchange Programs

Q: Does financial aid apply when I study abroad?

Since SUNY students are officially registered at their home campuses, state-based financial aid is generally applicable, as are most forms of federal aid. Financial aid should be processed by the student’s home campus. Non-SUNY students should consult with their home institution’s financial aid office for eligibility requirements and procedures. Make an appointment with your financial aid office, as soon as you consider studying abroad. Students must allow adequate time to process financial aid forms for overseas programs.

Q: Are there any scholarships?

Some scholarships are available through Study Abroad and Exchanges and other institutions. Students should research all options and consult with their financial aid offices. 

View current scholarships for study abroad

Q: Can I work overseas?

Earning wages for work while you are abroad under a student visa is most often prohibited. Your student visa usually authorizes only living and learning in your host country. Some countries will allow part-time jobs on-campus, and only while school is in session. Budget for your trip based on money that you have earned prior to your departure and do not rely on earning money while you are abroad.

Q: Does SUNY Plattsburgh send passport and visa forms?

No. You are responsible for getting an updated passport that is valid until 6 months after you expect to return to the United States. If you need help locating the application form or working through the process, please ask or visit www.travel.state.gov. If you do not already have a passport, get one now! You need a passport in hand before you can apply for a visa. In some countries, getting a visa can take many weeks or even months.

Visa rules vary according to the country you are visiting. It is your responsibility to secure the travel documents that you need for your specific study abroad program. If you have questions or concerns, please ask us the Global Education Office.

Q: What happens if I get sick when I’m away from home?

Students should consult the Global Education Office or their host university in advance regarding available medical facilities, particularly for any preexisting conditions that may need care. SUNY requires students to have international health insurance coverage, including emergency evacuation and repatriation coverage. Currently, students are enrolled in a policy through GeoBlue. For more information, please contact the Global Education Office.

If you have any preexisting conditions (allergies, etc.), be sure to carry identification on your person at all times, indicating the specific nature of the condition, and spelling out clearly what must be done should you be unable to communicate this information yourself. In the event that you become significantly ill or injured, please contact your host institution’s study abroad office and us as soon as safely possible.

Q: Will I be able to fill my prescriptions overseas?

It is wise to take a supply of medications adequate for the duration of your program with you from home, and it is a good idea to advise the on-site coordinator of any special needs that you may have. Filling a prescription in another country, as in the United States, requires a visit to a physician. University health clinics will be able to provide advice and assistance with locating a pharmacy.

You must bring your prescription(s) with you as evidence that the medication has been prescribed to you by a physician. In some cases particular medications will not be allowed into certain countries. For more information, consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the embassy web site of your host country. The Global Education Office can also provide contact information for the SUNY international health insurance provider.

Q: What happens when I arrive in a foreign country?

Some host universities will offer an airport pick-up, as requested by the student. If airport pick-up is offered at your host university, you must return the information by the stated deadline. If you fail to do so the university may be unable to retrieve you and you will have to find your own way to campus. Host institutions will provide an orientation to the university and its services as well as to the surrounding area, including topics such as safety and security and how to accomplish common tasks.

Q: How do I register for classes overseas?

In most cases you will be required to choose classes and submit a proposed course of study with your application. Our partner universities attempt to pre-register you whenever possible. All universities have an orientation program for international students. It is the students’ responsibility to learn about the orientation and the registration process, and to arrive in time to get acquainted with the university before classes start. The orientation also helps to establish contact with other international students.

Before you finalize your class schedule you must ensure that you receive written approval (this can take the form of an email) from your advisor or department chair as appropriate for any courses that vary from the schedule that you submitted with your Study Away Course Approval Form (Plattsburgh students) or the courses for which you got approval at your home campus (non-Plattsburgh students).

Q: Will I be able to travel on my holidays?

Travel is a big part of the study abroad experience. Be sure to save funds for personal travel. Travel expenses are not part of cost estimates. For travel advice, contact your local travel agency. Many universities abroad also have student travel services and outing clubs for inexpensive trips to points of interest and into the countryside.

Q: Can I take any classes that I want to take when I am in a study abroad program?

Many universities have a broad range of course offerings, but some have restrictions on certain subjects. For instance, a business, engineering, or pre-med student might not find space available at an overseas university for their particular distribution requirements. Before making a course selection, all students must study the offerings at the host university, and consult with their academic advisor at their home college to assure that they will meet their requirements for credit.

Q: What is “catering” of meals?

“Self-catered” housing means that there is no meal plan. Shared kitchens or reasonably priced restaurants are available. “Catered” housing means that some meals are provided, and “fully-catered” housing means that all meals are included.

Q: What does it mean if a room is “en-suite ?”

“En-suite” indicates that rooms have their own bathroom facilities. “Standard” rooms have shared facilities.

Q: How do I know when the semesters begin and end in Australia if their seasons are the opposite of ours?

The academic year follows the calendar year: Semester 1 usually starts in February or March and runs to June or July. Semester 2 begins in July and runs to November or December. Some universities have programs that coincide with the U.S. academic calendar. For estimated program dates, please visit studyabroad.plattsburgh.edu.

Q: Can I bring my cell phone?

You can bring it, but you might not be able to re-charge it or use it. Cell phones in other regions of the world often operate on systems incompatible with U.S. cell phone providers. Additionally, given the difference in voltage and electrical connections, battery chargers often do not function well or at all in other countries. The same may be true for your laptop computer. Electrical systems in foreign countries are not compatible with the system of the United States, so all small appliances (like your hair dryer, iron, electric shaver) need converters. You can purchase the converter ahead of time, or buy the appliances that you need upon arrival.

Q: Are there restrictions on what I can bring back to the United States?

Yes. Customs and immigration officials are very vigilant. You should receive customs information on your outbound flight. If you do not, please ask a flight attendant or immigration officer for information on US customs regulations so that you can plan for your return. Review this information carefully, both for departure and reentry into the United States. Allow adequate time for checking in at the airport, both while leaving and returning. Security measures can be extensive and time-consuming.

Q: What is the best way to handle my money while I am overseas?

ATMs are widespread throughout the world, and cash withdrawals with a credit card or a debit card are very easy. Make sure that you use a debit card with the symbol of a major credit card on it as ATM systems vary and the major credit card companies are the most universally recognized. Be careful to ask your bank what the ATM transaction fees will be as they can be quite expensive.

Q: Can I use a credit card in another country?

Yes. All major credit cards are widely accepted overseas. Keep a separate list of credit and debit card account numbers and customer service telephone numbers for emergency replacement. Loss or theft of a card abroad can be a huge inconvenience when you are traveling. Also, check with your bank regarding foreign transaction fees. Please note that even with a credit card, you may encounter businesses that require cash for transactions.

Q: Can I vote when I am overseas?

For information on voting while abroad, please visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s website.

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