Before you go
The OIP will share pre-departure information with you in a number of ways. All students are required to attend an in-person pre-departure orientation meeting led by the OIP advisor for their region, to complete the Study Abroad pre-departure course in Canvas and to read the Study Abroad Handbook. Your host institution may also ask you to participate in a pre-departure orientation and require that you attend an on-site orientation upon arrival in your host country.
What to expect from pre-departure orientation
Students are responsible for obtaining any required entry permit or visa for your host country. Failure to do so in a timely fashion can jeopardize your participation in your overseas studies program.
A valid passport is required to study abroad. An entry permit or visa may be necessary for you to enter and study in your host country. You will be responsible for the application process unless otherwise specified by your OIP advisor. OIP cannot expedite the issuance of entry permits and visas.
Students should know that most countries that require a student visa or entry permit will retain your passport while processing your application. This may restrict your travel outside of the U.S. over the summer (fall semester students) or your holiday break (spring semester students) depending upon the amount of time the consulate needs to process an application. Please plan accordingly.
The semester prior to going abroad, you will be added to a Pre-departure orientation Canvas course where we will cover the following information as well as providing additional resources and links.
Attend an in-person, region-specific pre-departure meeting for:
- Tips on making the most of your time abroad, breaking out of the BC/American student abroad bubble
- Host Country Culture Discussion - academics, stereotypes, language, dealing with culture shock
- Visa information for the host country
- Local safety precautions, laws and customs, on-site support/contacts
- How to access health care in your host country, relevant vaccinations
- Housing options
Attitudes toward women, the LGBTQ population, disabled people, and various ethnic/racial groups vary worldwide. Customs, beliefs, laws, facilities, and social practices relating to these populations may be different than in the US. The OIP is strongly committed to the belief that all students' experiences overseas are enhanced through a diversity of perspectives and backgrounds.
Visit our Diversity webpage for specific resources offered by BC and the OIP, as well as outside resources and support networks. With any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to reach out to the OIP.
Continue to refer to the Study Abroad Handbook for pre-departure checklist, travel preparations (communication) and health preparations, Boston College policies, safety & responsibilities, preparing for your return, and what do in emergencies abroad.
Once abroad, you may face an adjustment period referred to as "culture shock." The degree of "shock" depends on such factors as length of study abroad, your flexibility, tolerance for ambiguity, degree of difference between your home and host culture, prior experience abroad, and your expectations. Culture shock is a normal part of study abroad. It shows that you are experiencing the differences between your culture and that of the host country. Symptoms of culture shock can include: homesickness, depression, feeling lost and out of place, frustration, irritability, and fatigue. If you experience culture shock, remember that you are not alone and will get through it.
Some suggestions for dealing with culture shock include:
- "Plunge" into your host culture and wrestle with the differences.
- Keep an open mind. We all have preconceived ideas and beliefs that come into question while abroad.
- Get to know others at your host school. Do not isolate yourself.
- Find a "cultural informant," such as a local person with whom you can discuss your frustrations and encounters with difference.
- Learn as much as you can about your host culture. Maintain a support structure with others, particularly those going through the same experience. However, do not retreat into an American "clique" to avoid the discomfort of culture shock.
- Keep a journal. Record your impressions of new experiences and the transformations that are occurring within you.
- Remember that insight results from sustained and direct contact with your host culture, not from observation at a safe distance.
- As you overcome culture shock, you will be able to approach life in your host country with understanding and enthusiasm.
- WellTrack is a secure and anyonymous way for users to assess their personal well-being and quickly gain access to resources tailored to help them make progress in changing thoughts and behaviors that are not working for them.
The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.Register now
Once you have arrived at your study-abroad destination, please be sure to contact your family. Next, please login to My OIP and complete the "Local Address Abroad Questionnaire." Remember to check your BC email address for important updates during your time abroad.Login to My OIP
Did you know?
Students should be mindful of the different cultures they will encounter. To be mindful, pay careful attention to local laws, customs and attitudes.