Now that you have been accepted to your study abroad program, here are some additional steps to prepare you for your semester or year abroad:

  • Obtain the appropriate travel documents
    • Passport – US citizen who do not have a passport or need to renew a passport should visit the US State Department website (http://travel.state.gov/); non-US citizens should consult with the embassy of their home country. Since it can take several months to issue a passport, it is recommended that you apply as soon as possible to avoid delays. Remember that a valid passport is required for any visas.
    • Visa – A visa is official permission granted by the authorities of the country where you will study or travel which allows you to enter and remain in that country. Your Global Programs Manager will inform you if you are required to apply for a visa. If so, it is your responsibility to apply for the visa. Some countries require a visa just to enter as a tourist. Therefore it is important that you research the entry requirements for all countries that you wish to visit while abroad. If you have questions regarding the visa process, you should contact the embassy or consult of the host country.
    • Additional Documentation – Some countries will require students to present acceptance letters or financial statement upon entering the country, even if they do not require a visa. Your Global Programs Manager will inform you of what documentation you need to bring with you.
  • Register for courses
    • All students are required to enroll in a full course load during their time abroad. Please be aware that the course registration process at your study abroad program may differ from that at Penn. For example, you might not register for courses until you arrive on-site or you may have to register for each course in-person at a department. Your Global Programs Manager will discuss the specifics regarding course registration during your pre-departure orientations.
    • Penn Abroad registers all students by default for 4 c.u.’s per semester abroad. Once transcript from abroad has been received, this will be changed to reflect the appropriate number of credits you took abroad.
    • Please note that Penn Abroad is unable to register you if you have been placed on a hold. Penn Abroad will notify you if you are on hold, however, we cannot remove the hold. Commonly holds are placed if:
      • you have an outstanding unpaid balance on your student account
      • you have not presented your health insurance policy (insurance company name, address, telephone number, policy number and the policy holder's name) or immunization record to Student Health Services
      • your major has not been declared
      • you are a psychology major and have not met with your academic advisor
      • you are a Nursing or SEAS student and have not met with your academic advisor
      • you are not allowed to register because of a judicial sanction
  • Obtain course approval
    • All students studying abroad for a semester or year are required to request Penn credit for every course that they take abroad. Students receive credit from individual departments at Penn and work with major/minor/academic advisors as well as their home school study abroad academic advisor to determine how their courses abroad will work towards completing their graduation requirements.
    • Students from all four undergraduate schools use the XCAT system to attain departmental approval for each course. Most departments will require a syllabus or course description before granting credit; the XCAT system allows students to upload these documents.
    • Grades from abroad will not appear on your Penn transcript until you have received departmental approval at Penn for every course taken abroad and you have removed from the system any course that you did not take abroad. More information can be found in the Returning to Penn section.
  • Begin pre-departure preparations
    • Know Before You Go (KBYG) Sessions: Penn Abroad, in collaboration with Resource Centers and other offices on campus, organizes optional programming that allows students to informally discuss any concerns or issues they have related to their international experience and ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc. These are open to the entire Penn community and students participating in any kind of abroad experience are encouraged to attend.
    • Pre-Departure Orientations: Students studying abroad for a semester or year are required to attend mandatory pre-departure orientations that cover both general information about studying abroad (i.e. health, safety, finances, study abroad policies, etc.) and program-specific information (i.e. housing, course selection, visa information, academic calendar, etc.).
    • Pre-Departure Checklist for Accepted Students: Please review and adapt/modify to your particular study abroad plans and personal situation.