TIPS FOR TRAVELING
Part 1 of this document contains travel tips applicable to all students planning to study abroad - both short temr and semester/year. This list is alphabetical so you should have no trouble finding Part 2.
Part 2 of this document provides specific details that is MANDATORY READING for all Semester Abroad students.
This document may seem long, but spending 15 minutes to read the entire contents will really make your trip overseas a lot more trouble-free. It answers almost all the questions you might have about almost anything related to our programs overseas.
This document was designed to provide information for participants in short term immersion program, short term residency programs and semester/term study abroad programs. Not all parts of every section may be relevant to your situation... so just ignore the parts that may not apply to your program.
Most of what you are use to will be different (ie food, customs, language, the way everything works). It will not be like home. Embrace the differences!
We want you to have a great time. Particularly in Europe, the social atmosphere typically includes alcohol. Beer is sold virtually everywhere. However, in every bar and pub, you will also find excellent coffee and tea, as well as a selection of soft drinks. Drink beer, or wine, etc. if you want, but know that other options are always available. While having a few drinks as part of the social life of the trip is fine, being drunk is never acceptable. You are expected to behave as an ambassador of both your university and your country.
Loud behavior is never acceptable, especially in hotels. Although you are on "vacation", it may surprise you to know there are other people staying in the hotel who are actually there to sleep! That means entering the hotel quietly, not yelling in the halls and quietly closing your door, particularly after 10 p.m.
For short term programs. inappropriate behavior may affect your grade - "Professionalism" points form part of your grade - and repeated inappropriate behavior may be referred to the University for judicial action upon return.
Avoid leaning on historic buildings - or rubbing your hands on walls, etc. If a tour guide is speaking, you should show proper respect and listen. In some cases (like the River Seine cruise in Paris) there is a recorded narration in several languages. Just because you don't want to listen to the German version, doesn't mean the people sitting behind you don't want to hear it.
In all cases, try to make intelligent choices. Don't put yourself at risk - be aware of your behavior, your surroundings, etc.
ALL Students should read and adhere to the "Code of Student Conduct".
When budgeting, don't underestimate. In fact, it's recommended you take 20-30% more than you think you'll spend to cover unexpected costs. Running out of money or constantly worrying about it can ruin the great experience of your trip. Plan on spending about $10-25 per meal (depending upon your personal requirements). Without considering the cost of souvenirs, $15 to $25 a day in additional spending money would be a suggested minimum.
CAMERAS, LAPTOPS AND OTHER ELECTRICAL "STUFF"
Most digital camera, camcorder, laptop and cell-phone chargers are designed to work on either 110 or 220 volts. So to recharge these, you need only have a socket/plug adapter. England has different plugs than continental Europe.
Most other U.S. appliances (like hair dryers and curling irons, etc.) work only on 110 volts. For these, you will need both a plug adapter AND a transformer. Or better, leave them at home. You can buy a cheap hair dryer when you arrive in Europe. Most European hotels provide them for free. For those on a semester abroad, there is a chance that students from the previous smester may have left such items behind when they went home.
Almost all hotels provide hair dryers.
Based on past observation, curling irons and, in particular, hair straighteners have a high "casualty" rate even if using a transformer to convert the electricity. If possible, leave these at home and go "natural" with your hair.
See also "Cell Phones" section below.
Your cell phone will work in Europe IF you advise your carrier that you want to use it overseas AND if your phone is compatible with the European system. AT&T and T-Mobile have the best overseas network, but others are adding to their international plans all the time.
Unless you have a plan that includes free calls, if you phone rings -
even if you don't answer it - you will be charged.
Check with your carrier to see if you
phone will work, and do whatever is needed if you choose this option.
If you are going to be in Europe for an extended time, it may be easier to purchase a "pay as you go" mobile phone (that is the Euro term) when you arrive. Alternately, you might be able to purchase a SIM card and put it in your phone, provided your phone is "unlocked". Check with your cell carrier. SIM cards can allow access to international calls from Europe for just a few cents/pence a minute. This is NOT the same as SIM cards which allow you to make calls from the US to Europe.
For those of you with Smart-Phones, you should purchase a data plan (at AT&T it costs $30 per month for the minimal one, which provides adequate usage and unlimited text messages. Otherwise text messages cost about .50 each.) There is also a plan for $10 a day, which might work fine if you are on one of the shorter programs.
When overseas, you should turn off "data roaming" to avoid extremely high charges. If you have a data plan, only turn on the roaming feature when you want to use it. You can, of course, access wi-fi networks in various places in Europe, usually for free.
Free wi-fi is widely available throughout Europe.
For SEMESTER abroad students: Please make sure you are enrolled at SEMO for the credits you want to earn from the overseas university. Typically this can be 12-15 hours, but can be a few as 6-9 hours, with overseas classes supplemented by SEMO web-based classes. No matter how many classes/hours you take overseas, you are billed for 12 hours. If you have a tuition scholarship, it can be used.
All classes taken overseas will be transferred to your SEMO transcript at the end of the overseas experience, usually with letter grades. Grades are based on an adjusted scale. In Ireland, for example, a pass is 40%. This is counted as a "C" when it comes back to SEMO. Other overseas grades are similarly adjusted to account for different grading scales and distribution of grades.
Be aware that European institutions measure credit hours in ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) which typically transfers back to SEMO at the rate of 2 ECTS = 1 SEMO hour.
Unlike US classes where the concept of "progressive assessment" is usually practiced (i.e. lost of mini-quizzes, multiple tests, credit for homework assignments, etc.) in Europe, most of your grade will depend on the Final Exam. Class attendance is not requires, and without some self discipline, it is easy to fall into the trap of missing classes, etc. This will likely come back and haunt you when you attempt to take the final exam. Please consider attendance and completing homework assignments mandatory - even if your professor seems to place no weight on these activities.
Remember also that Britain & Europe's electricity is 220-240V, 50 hertz (the U.S. is 110V, 60 hertz) and uses different plugs. Many US electrical appliances will not work without both an adapter plug and a transformer. (see "Cameras..." section above)
EMERGENCIES (for Immersion Program participants)
Should some emergency situation occur and you need to contact a faculty/staff member during a time when they are not nearby, call the hotel and leave a message for the faculty member(s) at the front desk. You should always travel with a copy of the schedule and hotel numbers in each city are listed on it. Faculty members will have a mobile phone with them. Their numbers are listed on the schedule. Should an emergency arise, call them. Their phone number will be a US number, and to call from a foreign country you will need to first dial +1, then area code and local number (the "+" is obtained by holding down the 0 key)
FOOD, TIPPING and BEGGARS
Today you can find hamburgers and cola almost anywhere in the world, BUT you'll miss out on one of the greatest pleasures of travel if you don't experiment with the local businesses and restaurants. Remember, you are traveling in order to learning something new. Try new foods. By all means visit a McDonald's to look at the menu, but avoid eating there!
Restaurants in Europe usually include "service" in their pricing. "...A 15% tip ...is included in the bill" (Asselin, Gilles and Ruth Mastron, "Business Customs and Practices in France") If the menu indicates "service included" (remember, it will be in French, or German or Spanish....) Tipping is not expected. For a bartender or cab driver, you might leave the loose change as a tip - but this will usually only be a very small percentage of the bill - not the more customary 10-20% as it is in the U.S. If someone carries your bag, it is typical to provide them with a small gratuity. If you don't want to tip, make sure you carry your own bag.
There are some group meals. Often this will mean that an advance menu selection needs to be made and everyone is served the same meals. If you are a vegetarian or have some religious food taboos, you need to advise us in writing (e-mail is OK) at least two weeks before departure so we can adjust the reservation.
There will also be pod meals - where you will go out as a smaller group. Each pod will have one of these meals during the program.
A good rule of thumb is never to give to beggars - even if they are children. Rewarding begging is not socially acceptable. Besides, often times if people see where you are keeping your money, it increases your chance of being a victim of petty crime.
If you see a performer (like a musician in the Underground) and you take a photo or stop and/or listen, it is good manners to give him/her a few coins.
FREQUENT FLIER CREDIT
As this might be the first of a great many flights you make, you might as well get mileage credit. You should sign up for the airline's frequent flier program. If you do this on the airline's web-page well before we depart, you will often get sign-up bonus "miles" as well. Make sure you provide the frequent flier number to the check-in person at the airline desk on your initial check-in (first flight)
HEALTH & INSURANCE
First and foremost, make sure that you have sufficient health and accident insurance for the entire period you'll be traveling. Even if your health insurance will reimburse you for medical bills that you pay for abroad, normal health insurance does not pay for medical evacuation from a remote area or from a country where medical facilities are inadequate. We strongly recommend purchasing one of the short-term health and emergency assistance policies designed for travelers. These are typically sold in one-month increments. Also, make sure that the plan you purchase includes medical evacuation in the event of an accident or serious illness. Try: iNext Insurance http://www.inext.com/ 1-207-553-4278. You might also try Cultural Insurance Services International CISI at 1-800-303-8120. Other options include Travelex Insurance Services at 1-800-228-9792. There are several others, but for traditionally aged college students, iNext and CISI are probably the best.
If you are spending the semester abroad, certain locations overseas require locally purchased insurance. This is required in France. Your "welcome Package/Acceptance material" from your host university will explain ant special requirements for that particular country.
When traveling, bring your own basic drugstore supplies, such as motion sickness medications, antacids, pain relievers, decongestants and antiseptics, in case they're unavailable when minor health problems strike.
If you have a significant medical history, or a current medical diagnosis, ask you physician to provide you with a printed copy of your medical history and a list of your current medications. Keep one copy of this information on your person and one in your suitcase. The list should include contact information for your physician.
If you take prescription medications, you should carry them in the original pharmacy bottle (with label) It may be useful to have your physician provide you with a list of the medications. The list should include your physician's signature. Be sure to take enough prescription medications to last you for the entire trip. Protect them by keeping them in a safe place as refills will be difficult to obtain. Note: If you are diabetic and take insulin you should have validation for this prescription in order to travel with a vial of insulin and syringes.
If you have significant medical condition, allergies to any medications, or substances, it is advised that you wear a medical charm or bracelet identifying them.
Jet lag is the discomfort that travelers feel when adjusting to a new time zone. These effects are the body's response to having its natural "time" upset and can include dehydration, headaches, insomnia and general fatigue. You should not be alarmed if you suffer these discomforts after a long international flight.
Things you can do to decrease jet lag:
* A few days before your flight, try to adapt your sleeping and eating schedules to your destination's time zone
* Get adequate rest before leaving on your trip.
* After boarding the plane, reset your watch to the new time zone
* Eat lightly and drink plenty of water. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and carbonated beverages.
* Upon arrival in Europe, do not have an afternoon nap. Have a full day's activity, and get to bed relatively early on the first night. You may still feel a little tired the next day, but by the following day, you should be on "Europe" time.
The more you can learn of the languages of the places you'll visit the better. You'll almost always be able to communicate if you are patient, courteous, and have a sense of humor. You won't be expected to speak the local language fluently (if at all), but any attempts will be appreciated. Ask first if the person speaks English. If the answer is "yes," speak slowly and clearly. The words for "Please" and "Thank You" should be the first you learn in any language. You will use them often!
Particularly in France, greeting the store clerk (Bonjour), asking if they speak English, apologize for not speaking French (particularly if you can master saying this in French!) Always say "please" - si vous plait - and you will usually find Parisians are very helpful, despite what you may have heard from other travelers.
LUGGAGE - (see "PACKING")
You will almost always get a better exchange rate upon arrival in the foreign country rather than trying to get funds before you leave.
Using your ATM card is generally the absolute best way of getting foreign currency!
As a safety measure, you might keep some "untouchable" cash/traveler's cheque ($50-100) in reserve somewhere separate from your other money. Use it only in case of an emergency.
One of the safest ways to carry money is in traveler's cheques, available through American Express, Thomas Cook, Citicorp, Barclays Banks, Visa and BankAmerica. Call around to find out what services they offer and which one best suits your needs. Record the numbers of all checks and keep copies of the list, as well as the toll-free hotline numbers of the company, both at home and in your luggage.
There is often a 1 Percent fee for issuance of traveler's cheques, but banks will sometimes waive this for customers. AAA provides fee-free American Express cheques to members. Bureaux de Change, hotels, foreign banks will also pay a service charge (or give you a lousy exchange rate - or both) when you change your checks for foreign currency. This was the "20th Century" way to travel!
ATM Cards/Debit Cards
This is the 21st Century way to exchange money! If you have an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) card or Debit Card, you can probably use your card overseas to get cash easily at close to the inter-bank rate, which is a much better rate than you may find at exchange desks if you are trying to exchange cash, plus you usually have 24 hour access. Be sure to find out if there is a service charge involved. In most overseas countries, banks do not charge the user an ATM fee. Your bank in the US may charge a fee of around 75c-$5. Also, most ATM systems abroad support only a four-digit PIN (Personal Identification Number); if your PIN has five or more digits, ask your bank to issue you one that has only four.
If your bank charges significant fees for overseas withdrawals, consider opening an account at a bank that allows fee-free withdrawals. You might also check to see if your bank has "partner banks" overseas. For example, if you are a Bank of America customer, you will avoid any extra charges by using Barklays Bank or Deutsche Bank overseas.
Even if you can transfer money from your savings to checking in America, you may only be able to access your primary (usually checking) account when you are in Europe. Make sure that you have deposited all of your spending money into the right account.
Do not take a wad of cash with you. It is dangerous and you will likely get ripped off on the exchange rate. Plus you have to be continually seeking out a place to change your money, typically available only during business hours. (Kind of tough if you need money on the weekend, or in a smaller town)
Major Credit Cards
Many budget hotels and restaurants don't accept them, especially for small transactions. But you may want to carry a major credit card or charge card, such as MasterCard of Visa. American Express is accepted, but less widely. (Forget Discover - that's substantially for the North America only) Credit cards are great for purchases, although they can get expensive if used for cash advances. Many stores have a minimum purchase amount for credit card use of about $10. In addition, determine if your credit card charges a 3% overseas transaction fee. If so, try to get an alternate credit card that does not charge overseas transaction fees.
Overseas credit cards are all "chip & pin". In most cases, US "chip
& sign" credit cards are OK.
For both Credit Cards and Debit Cards, it is highly recommended to contact in advance your bank and advise them of your travel plans. Banks sometimes detect overseas activity on your card and assume it is something fraudulent and will block your card if they are not aware of your travel plans.
Always try to travel light. If you do, you can move more quickly and will be more likely to have a free hand. You will also be less tired and less likely to set your luggage down, leaving it unattended.
You are limited to one checked bag and one small carry-on (no larger than a school book bag). The checked bag should be a "reasonable" size, not one of those that a couple of extra people could fit in. Space on the bus for luggage is extremely limited. If we are using a discount airline within Europe, they have stricter luggage limits than US carriers. Bring too much and you could end up holding your bag in your lap for 4 or more hours. Plus in some locations the bus can't park near the hotel to unload, so you will be carrying your bag several blocks to the hotel. European hotel elevators (lifts) are notoriously unreliable, so you may also have to climb up five flights of stairs with your bag to get to your room.
The carry on bag can only contain liquids, gels and pastes (toothpaste, deodorant, make-up etc.) in bottles of less than 100 ml (a little over 3 fluid ounces) and only those bottle that will fit into a one-quart size plastic zip-lock bag. This bag must be unpacked from your carry-on bag when you go through security.
To help keep your luggage to a minimum, consider washing your dirty clothes every few days. Bring a bottle of Woolite and string (for an instant clothes line), and wash out your clothes the first night you are in a hotel for more than one night. That way, by the time you leave the hotel, about the only dirty clothes you will have will be the one you are wearing!
If your program is one which involves visits to corporations, you need one "Business" outfit, and a couple of sets of casual clothes. Make your business clothes comfortable on business visit days you will likely be wearing the same clothes all day. That means comfortable walking shoes. Check the internet for weather information in the cities we are visiting.
Generally, only very young people (or American tourists) in Europe wear faded jeans, t-shirts and tennis shoes. A little more "dressy" appearance will help you fit in. The more you stand out as a tourist, the more likely you will be a target of pick-pockets, beggars and various scam artists. Northern Europeans tend to favor darker colors, while southern Europeans are more colorful in their dress.
It is also useful to remember that admission to many churches has a dress code - no shorts or exposed shoulders. Sometimes even flip-flops are banned. So if you think you might be visiting a church, dress accordingly. It is also good to practice proper respect in holy places. No caps or hats should be worn by men, any talking should be in a subdued tone (or none at all if a service is going on), and photography, where allowed should be "flashless". This photography rule also applies to most art galleries and many historic sites as well.
Suggested Packing List for a short Europe Trip
PACK LIGHT. You don't need a lot of stuff; you don't want to carry around a lot of stuff; and you'll probably need room in your luggage for souvenirs.
THESE ARE ALL THE CLOTHES YOU NEED...REALLY
A small bottle of Woolite. You will be washing out your shirts, socks and underwear in the hotel bathrooms a couple of times
A notebook for taking notes during business visits and to serve as your journal
A pen (A cheap one. Don't pack your Mont Blanc)
A watch (Again, a cheap one. Leave the Rolex at home)
Inflatable travel pillow (these pillows may help on long flights and on some of the longer bus rides)
Toiletries. Don't plan on buying these items in Europe. You'll find we will not always be in easy reach of convenience stores, the brands are different, the packages may be in a foreign language and the prices are often higher. Make sure you follow security guidelines on package size, etc.
Camera. Bring the small, autofocus kind. Best is one with the flash that can be turned off. Most museums and churches do not allow flash photography.
Film - if you still live in the 1990's - is more expensive in Europe. Bring all you need from home. For digital cameras, make sure you can recharge them (see ELECTRICITY)
Voltage converter/adapter. If you plan on bringing a hair dryer, curling iron, etc., you will need one of these. It has multiple prongs to fit outlets in different countries
A driver's license and your school ID. In case you need convenient identification (rather than pulling out your passport), and the school ID may be useful for some student discounts
A safe wallet, purse or pouch to carry your money, ID, credit card. Always think about pickpockets
Over the counter drugs. If you are susceptible to headaches or cold symptoms or upset stomach, it might be a good idea to pack some pain reliever, cold remedy and Pepto Bismol.
Prescription eyeglasses, contact lenses
Solutions for contact lenses
Prescription medication. Pack it in the bottle you get from the pharmacy
A written copy of your prescription in case you lose the medication and need a refill
Your passport. Carry it with you in a safe pocket/pouch at all times
A photocopy of your passport and credit cards. Keep these in your suitcase. Keep a copy on your mobile phone as well.
Student ID card (you will gets lots of discounts if you have this with you)
"Money" in the form of ATM card and credit cards.
A passport is an identification document issued by governments to their own citizens. A US passport for an adult over 18 is valid for 10 years. If you do not have a passport, you need to get yours now. It is best to apply at least three months before your trip. IMPORTANT: As soon as you have your passport, SIGN IT and make a copy of the page(s) with your photograph and send it to us. If you already have a passport, but it expires the year you will be traveling, it is best to obtain a new passport. For foreign students, also send us a copy of your I-94/I-20 paperwork and the passport page with your US visa on it.
You can pick up the DSP-11 "Passport Application" at most local Post Offices. If you are not a US citizen, contact the embassy of your country.
You must apply for your passport in person (unless you are renewing an expired passport). You will need the following:
* Proof of US citizenship. This can be a certified copy of your birth certificate, a naturalization certificate, or if you were born abroad, a consular report of birth of a US citizen.
* Two recent identical photographs, 2" by 2". These may be in color or black and white, but the background must be white, and your head should measure 1 3/8" from top to chin. Many photocopy shops will print acceptable passport photos while you wait. You can also contact an area Travel Agency and they will be able to provide you with photographs.
* Proof of identity. If you don't have a valid driver's license, you can use an expired US passport, a certificate of naturalization or citizenship or a recent government identification card.
* A completed form DSP-11, "Passport Application". These are available at Passport Agencies and most Post Offices.
* Payment. The current fee is about $100 (this fee amount changes from time to time). Call in advance, though; some locations won't accept personal checks.
ESPECIALLY FOR STUDENTS WHO PLAN TO BE OVERSEAS FOR MORE THAN A WEEK OR TWO... We strongly recommend that a close family member/friend holds or obtains a valid passport. This will allow them to travel to see you in the unlikely event you be hospitalized/jailed... etc.
PHONING HOME FROM EUROPE (see also "Cell Phones")
If you don't already have a calling card, apply for one before you go and ask your phone company for international calling information. Confirm with your long distant carrier the procedure for calling home from the countries we are visiting before we leave the USA.
Telephoning from overseas can be both frustrating and expensive. Generally avoid calling directly from a hotel room; service charges and markup can often cost a lot! Always obtain an outside line first and then dial your US carrier's access number. Using a US carrier access number is the most convenient way of calling - although it is also one of the most expensive.
Although not always the most convenient, the cheapest way of calling home is to purchase a calling card in the foreign country. Often, though, the card will only work for calls placed from that country. In England, for example, calling cards can be purchased which charge only about 5 cents per minute for calls to the US, compared to around $1 (or more) a minute for calls placed through ATT Direct, or similar services from MCI, etc. But the card will only work in England - and then only on certain designated phones - a British Telecom card will only work on their phones. Same for Mercury, Virgin etc.
Start practicing crossing the street by looking to the right and the left before you step off the curb. There are many one-way streets where traffic will be approaching from the right. Traffic in Britain, Ireland, Australi and many other nations will also be coming from your right when you cross a street. Being run over by a double decker bus doing 45 mph is certain to make your trip to Europe less enjoyable...and much shorter!
Read up on the customs and political situation of every country you plan to visit. The US State Department provides up-to-date information on every country, and world news sections of major metropolitan newspapers can keep you up-to-date on current events.
Talk with someone who has traveled to that country before (recently)...or better yet with someone who is from that country.
Protect your valuable documents. Consider carrying these in a money belt or neck wallet under your clothes; or lock them in your hotel's safe. Never put your passport in your camera case or with anything else that might be a target for thieves.
Before leaving for your trip, make two sets of copies of all your important documents. Take a set with you, but be sure to keep it separate from the actual documents. Leave one set with a friend or family member back home.
Never leave your luggage unattended. Always have a hand or foot in a loop or strap when you put it down to avoid having it snatched away while you're not looking.
Never drink alcohol excessively. In unfamiliar surroundings it is easy to get into trouble if you are not in "full command".
Keep a low profile and avoid loud conversations or arguments. Do not discuss travel plans or other personal matters with strangers.
Wear the shoulder strap of your bag across your chest and walk with the bag away from the curb to avoid drive-by purse snatchers.
Avoid illegal drugs. You are subject to the laws of the country in which you are traveling. Hundreds of American travelers end up in foreign jails each year as a result of carrying, using, or being suspected of using drugs. There is little the American Embassy can do on your behalf in these cases, and the laws in many countries are more severe than the ones in America.
Avoid demonstrations, especially in politically volatile countries. What appears peaceful can suddenly change into a dangerous situation, and you could become caught in the middle.
Travel with a companion and stay in populated, well-trafficked areas.
Be aware at all times of your surroundings. If your instincts tell you a situation is uncomfortable, trust them and move along.
Be cautious of strangers - particularly in bars/late at night. Be careful - just as you would in the US in similar circumstances.
Stay healthy by eating well, drinking ample fluids (non-alcoholic) and getting sufficient rest.
Carry the minimum amount of valuables necessary for your trip and plan a place or places to conceal them.
Whatever you pack your belongings in, be sure to clearly label your luggage on the outside with your name, address and phone number. Also put a piece of paper inside with the same information, in case the tag gets stripped off. Make your luggage appear distinctive - this makes it easier for you to find, and more difficult for someone else to pick it up by mistake.
When you check your luggage in at the airport, make sure it is not locked.
SOME ADDITIONAL "RULES" FOR SHORT TERM PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS (semester exchange students can ignore this)
Be on time. We will not wait for you. It is really not acceptable to have 20 or more people who were on time waiting for someone who was not self disciplined or organized enough to be on time.
Likewise, times will be announced as to when the coach is departing. Make sure you are on time. Deviations from the printed schedule will usually be announced the day before. If in doubt, see the program head honcho or your "pod" head. We will also try and post any schedule changes near the front desk or elevator of the hotel - although sometimes hotels won't allow us to do this.
The general rule is that the coach will wait for no-one- except the driver and the "head honcho" (and only then if he is late due to taking care of official business). If you miss the coach, you will need to figure out how to get to where you need to be! (Always carry a copy of the schedule with you!)
This policy may also be of an advantage to you. It means that if you are somewhere you really like (perhaps Versailles, for example) and want to stay longer, you don't have to worry about running back to the bus to tell us. We won't wait for you, and assume you elected to stay longer. Public Transportation in Europe is so easily accessible, getting to the hotel should not be a problem.
TRAVEL IN EUROPE
If you plan to stay longer in Europe, or if you a wanting to do a daytrip during some free time, you should consider travel by train. Traveling by train is a great experience. It's comfortable and efficient, and has that sense of romance too (like the famed Orient Express). There are literally thousands of trains to choose from each day: fast ones, leisurely ones, day trains, overnight trains and scenic trains. Make sure that if you have purchased a 2nd class ticket, you sit only in the train cars with a "2" near the door. If you sit in a "1" area, you will likely be charged a 1st class supplement.
Compartment Car Seating: The car is separated into cabins which open to corridors along one side of the car. Cabins accommodate up to 6 passengers in first class, and 8 passengers in second class.
Coach Car Seating: The car is open with a center aisle and seats on either side. In first class there are two seats on one side of the aisle and one seat on the other side. In second class there are two seats on either side of the aisle.
Sleepers: Sleepers contain berths, with a private washstand, fresh linens and towels. First class accommodates one or two people. Second class accommodates from two to four people. Couples, families and travelers of the same sex can share a sleeper.
Couchettes: Couchettes are open bunks in a compartment each with a pillow and blanket. Usually located in second class, they accommodate up to six people. There is no distinction by sex, so you should expect to sleep in your daytime clothes.
Dining on the Train
Most long-distance trains have a restaurant or buffet car, and some even have bar cars. Meals are usually not available on overnight trains, but if they are, the sleeping car attendant will take your continental breakfast order.
In most stations, poster timetables show departure, arrival and platform numbers. They can be recognized easily by the background color. As a rule, departure timetables are printed on a yellow background. Arrival timetables are on a white background. All trains are listed chronologically from 0 to 24 hours. Fast trains are shown in red rather than black ink. Next to the time you'll see the name and number of the important intermediate stops, as well as track and platform number at which the train departs and arrives. Always confirm train times and platforms on electronic boards - just in case there are last minute changes.
Getting on and off the train
BE ON TIME! Europe's railroads pride themselves on their punctuality, so they hold to their schedule no matter what. If you're late, they won't wait. They often stop only for a very short time to let people on and off; one, two, or three minute stops are not unusual. Make sure you board your train as soon as it gets to the station. And when your train stops at your destination, be ready by the door with your bags to get off as soon as the train comes to a full stop.
When boarding the train, make sure you are on the right train, on the right carriage (trains often split apart at some intermediate destination) and are in the right class (1st or 2nd) according to your ticket. Also make sure you don't sit in someone else's reserved seat (some trains are by reservation only) and NEVER put your shoes on a seat. If you take of your shoes, it is generally acceptable to put your socked feet on a seat.
It depends on where you are going - and for how long - as to if point-to-point tickets or Eurail-type passes offer the better value. There are often discounts for 2 or 3 people traveling together and for students. Specific passes can cover all of Europe, or part of Europe, just a couple of countries or just a single country. Sometimes it is cheaper to buy passes from the US - but any difference in price may not be much, anyhow.
For more information about Eurorail see www.raileurope.com
Be aware that it is often cheaper to pay for point to point tickets - for a Eurail pass to be really useful, you need to be covering a lot of kilometers over a relatively short period of time. Also be aware that you will have to pay reservation fees and possible 1st class upgrades on some trains even if you have a valid Eurial pass.
In Germany, for example, if you are travelling on the weekend and avoid the IC/ICE (fastest) trains, up to 6 people might be able to travel on one ticket.
A good website for checking schedules is at DB (German Railways) - www.bahn.de
If you are going further than a few hundred miles (get used to talking in kilometers!) try one of the discount airlines. Easyjet, Ryanair, AirBerlin, BalticAir, Go!...and many more offer sometimes incredibly cheap flights - sometimes even free! However, make sure you know where you are landing (for example Ryan Air's flights to Paris use Beauvais Airport, not Charles de Gaulle. Beauvais is about 50 km out in the boonies) Check luggage allowances carefully. But they are a great way of seeing Europe.
VISAS - (no, not the credit card)
US citizens typically do not need to worry about visas for western Europe for stays of less than 3 months. Non-US citizens may need to acquire visas. Visas are the responsibility of the students. We will be happy to provide any helpful information.
For Semester Abroad students, read the following:
Even if you check the visa rules for the country you are headed to when your application is finalized, you should check again a month or two before departure - rules are constantly changing.
Most students studying abroad for a semester will need a visa. There are some exceptions where you need only apply for a Residence Permit when you arrive - The Netherlands and Germany, for example do not require a visa in advance. Some countries require both a residency permit and a visa. Check with the host country embassy/consular web-site and the IBP office for guidance.
For countries which require a student visa, you will likely have to apply in person at a consular office (usually Chicago).
Before you start complaining about the overly cumbersome process of getting a visa (and the expense), the process is likely much easier for you than it is for a student coming from that country to the US for a semester.
GOING OVERSEAS FOR A SEMESTER? - Agenda for Out-Bound Student meeting
THINGS YOU MUST DO
* Once you have submitted your application and you have
been accepted for overseas study, you should next receive an acceptance letter
from your host university. This letter will be used for you to obtain your
student visa (required for most countries) The International Business
Programs (I.B.P.) Office can help you with this, but it is your responsibility.
* Once you have submitted your application and you have been accepted for overseas study, you should next receive an acceptance letter from your host university. This letter will be used for you to obtain your student visa (required for most countries) The International Business Programs (I.B.P.) Office can help you with this, but it is your responsibility.Current student visa information can be found on the consular website of the country you are going to, most likely located in Chicago. Some countries (like the Netherlands) do not require a visa but you must obtain a residence permit upon entry. Others allow you to obtain your visa when you arrive. Still other countries require a student visa, and may even require a personal appearance at the consulate (usually in Chicago). Visa rules are constantly changing, so please check the consular web-site for the most current.
* The student visa for some countries has a
requirementthat you obtain an FBI background check. If
requested through the FBI website, it takes 4-6 weeks. Howeveryou can
obtain it through the following site within 48 hours - for a fee:
* The student visa for some countries has a requirementthat you obtain an FBI background check. If requested through the FBI website, it takes 4-6 weeks. Howeveryou can obtain it through the following site within 48 hours - for a fee:www.myfbireport.com Belgium requires a FBI background check for students over the age of 21.
* You MUST advise the IBP office of your desired overseas
class credits. We will enroll you in a class called "Study Abroad"
GE350 for 12 hours credit. After you have completed your semester overseas, the GE350 will be
replaced on your transcript with specific class titles and grades. Use the
Acknowlegment Form at the end of this document to advise us of your enrolment
preference. Regardless of how many credits you earn overseas, you pay for
12 hours tuition. If you are on a tuition scholarship, it will pay your
tuition, the same as usual.
* You MUST advise the IBP office of your desired overseas class credits. We will enroll you in a class called "Study Abroad" GE350 for 12 hours credit. After you have completed your semester overseas, the GE350 will be replaced on your transcript with specific class titles and grades. Use the Acknowlegment Form at the end of this document to advise us of your enrolment preference. Regardless of how many credits you earn overseas, you pay for 12 hours tuition. If you are on a tuition scholarship, it will pay your tuition, the same as usual.
* You may also also take a n on-line
class here. This is not recommended, but sometimes is necessary, depending
on your major requirements. You should enroll for this class.
n on-line class here. This is not recommended, but sometimes is necessary, depending on your major requirements. You should enroll for this class.
* You must also turn in a medical information form/liability waiver/power of attorney. This form is available from the I.B.P. Office.
BOTH THE ACKNOWLEGEMENT FORM and THE MEDICAL FORM MUST BE
TURNED INTO THE I.B.P. OFFICE BY:
April 30 (for fall study abroad) or November 30 (for spring study abroad):
April 30 (for fall study abroad) or
November 30 (for spring study abroad):
THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
Universities typically measure credit hours in ECTS hours.
Generally European hours transfer into US universities at a rate of 2:1
(2 ECTS = 1 US credit). So to get 12
SEMO credits, you need to take at least 22 ECTS hours.
To get 15 SEMO hours, you need to take 30 ECTS hours.
For Korea, 1 Koean credit hour transfers to SEMO as .8 hour. So if you
take 15 hours in Korea, you will earn 12 hours of SEMO credits.
* All classes taken overseas will be transferred into SEMO with a letter grade. Grading distributions and passing grade levels are different in European countries and are adjusted according to some set formula that the SEMO Registrar's office uses. For example, in Ireland, you need 40% to pass, which will be a SEMO "C". You will get grades (incl. any Fs) for all classes shown on your foreign transcript.
It may be possible to designate a class that is not required to satisfy
University Studies, Major or Minor requirements as Pass/Fail. This needs
to be done early in the semester - contact the I.B.P. Office if you are
interested in doing this.
* Make sure you email the I.B.P. office with a final list of classes you are taking overseas once you get settled in your overseas university. You can get credit for UI343 as one of your classes ONLY IF you successfully complete the equivalent of 12 hours of classes overseas.
* Make sure an official transcript of your semester is sent directly to the I.B.P. office at the end of your semester.
* Have you read the "TRAVELLING TIPS" section of this page? In particular, you will find answers to many of your questions regarding cell-phones, computers and travel insurance.
* Travel/health insurance is typically mandatory. Some universties require it to be bought through their office (Rennes, France, for example) while others allow you to purchase your own. In the latter case, technically, your current insurance may provide coverage, but practically it may be useless. Plus study abroad insurance provides for emergency repatriation and some added benefits. Please provide my office with your policy info when you have it.
* It is strongly recommended that one (or both) your parents have a valid passport.
* Make sure you contact your SEMO academic advisor to get your enrolment PIN number for the following semester's registration. If your overseas semester is your last, make sure you apply for graduation.
* Have you finalized housing? Your host school will help you with this.
* Have you booked airline tickets? Do you know where you are to report to on campus? Do you know how to get there? Places like Aachen involve catching a train from the European entry airport (or main train station in the city center) to the city where your university is located. Train schedules can be found in many places � for Germany www.bahn.de is excellent. I would not recommend booking a train to match your international flight arrival time. Since flights can get delayed, you might be better just buying your train tickets once you arrive. When searching for the cheapest fares, check out different destination airports. e.g., to get to Aachen, you could go to Brussels, Dusseldorf or Frankfurt. All have train connection to Aachen. There is also a regional airport at Maastricht-Aachen. Check different days; M-Th is generally a few dollars cheaper than F-Sun.
* Search various websites for fares. Make sure you check those specializing in student travel (STA and Student Universe come to mind) Kayak.com has a box where you can check if you are a student. Also call the airlines direct and say you are looking for a fare for a 5 month return as they sometimes have special student fares that are not published. There is no one best web-site...it varies from time to time, so do a diligent search.
* ADAPTING TO YOUR NEW HOME Understand the psychological adaptation that this experience will necessitate. You WILL initially feel lonely, confused and questioning your decision to study overseas for the first week or two you are overseas. You will miss your family and friends. This will pass in just a few days, and before you know it, the semester will be over and you will be wishing you could stay longer. But the first week or two is rough. Be patient. When things seem to be getting overwhelming, take a time out. Go to a park, a coffee shop, a bar and have a little quiet time. Things will be different. They will seem disorganized. You will get lost. But it is all part of the growing experience which you will look back and treasure. Do not let a few frustrations in the first few days adversely affect the rest of your semester. Overall, this is an experience of a lifetime, something that will change your life...for the better.
* Know SEMO emergency contact numbers; Dr Peter Gordon, office (+1)* 573 651 2914 cell (+1)* 573 450 3434; Dean Judy Wiles (+1)* 573 651 2112 and Kevin Timlin (+1 )* 573 651 6863 * add this if dialing from Europe. AND the contact information for the US consulate closest to your host institution. (look it up on the internet and have it handy at all times) You should share the SEMO contact numbers with your parents to be used only in emergency situations
* Want to make friends overseas? Don't take an ethnocentric attitude with you. It is OK to be proud of your country, but keep that pride in your heart � not emitting loudly from your mouth! Remember � just because something is different, it is not necessarily "wrong".
* Anyime, do not hesitate to contact the I.B.P. Office if you have questions.
� I plan to take the equivalent of ____ SEMO hours while in studying abroad under the SEMO exchange program. Even if I later drop classes at the overseas institution, I can not obtain a refund on my SEMO tuition. For undergraduates, these hours will show on my schedule as GE350 - study abroad. I understand that ECTS credits are transferred at the ratio of 3 ECTS=2 SEMO.
� If applicable: I am/plan to enroll in the following SEMO web-class;
� I have read and understand the information presented on the sheet entitled �Agenda for Out-Bound Student meeting�.
� I have completed and submitted the Liability Waiver documentation.
Name Signature Student number
PRINT THIS SECTION AND TURN IN TO THE I.B.P. OFFICE
PRINT THIS SECTION AND TURN IN TO THE I.B.P. OFFICE