• Prepare

    Once approved by Hamline, you will start the next part of the processpreparing to go on your program. This may include steps like a second application outside of Hamline’s application.

    Hamline’s approval does not mean you are going on the program, so don’t buy your airfare just yet!

    The GEC will send you information on if you need to apply to the program directly. Please note this means there might be another round of deadlines and steps that you must follow.

    The following items are a general list of things you may want to look into before you depart. There is no requirement to complete this checklist, but we highly recommend looking into them!

    To Do Checklist:

    Passport Information

    Hamline creates both international and national program opportunities. Please check your program’s application page or program provider application to make sure you know if you need to obtain additional documents to get out of or into another country.

    Is your program outside of the US?

    In order to travel abroad, students MUST hold a valid passportmake sure it will be valid at least six months AFTER your return date.

    US Citizens should apply for a passport, or renew their passports (as needed) by starting the process at the US Department of State’s website or you can also use the information from the USPS site.

    Please note that the processing times vary and some airlines require a passport number at time of flight bookings. Plan early or be prepared to pay for expedited services.

    Non-US Citizens should contact their home country’s consulate for passport renewals.

    DACA students and other special groups of students should contact the GEC and/or an immigration lawyer with questions about options of leaving the country for the purpose of study.

     travel.state usps

    Visa Information

    Visas are special permissions for an individual to enter/exit a country. Not all study abroad students will need a visa. Short term programs generally don’t need anything beyond a US passport to travel. See your program’s application site or program provider site for more details on if you need to apply for a visa.

    The GEC are not visa experts and students should read over program documents regarding visas.

    For general requirements on which countries have entry/exit visas, see that county’s page on the International Travel site of the US Department of State’s website.


    Do I need a Visa?

    • If you need a visa really depends on how long and where you are going. Many countries have agreements with the US that as a citizen your passport will allow you entry/exit without a visa for short periods of time.
      • For example, most of Europe will allow up to 90 days of travel in the Schengen Zone without any visa paperwork.
      • Some countries don’t have this agreement, like China that requires a visa for any amount of time in that county.
    • You as a student are responsible for researching if you need to get a visa. GEC will make an effort to provide general information and support, but students must ultimately apply and receive the visa before departure for their program.

    How do I get a visa?

    • If your program requires a visa there will be paperwork that the officials of the program will provide you (letter of invitation, living address in the country, etc). Please read all emails from your program officials carefully!
    • Some visas require you to travel to the nearest consulate to submit your passport and paperwork. Others let you do this via mail services or offer e-visa options. It depends on the country and their rules.
    • The US Department of State’s International Travel page will help with locating your consulate and their website for contact information.
    • In some cases you can pay a company to process the visa application and documents on your behalf. These will cost you money on top of any visa fees required, but can save you some time and hassle.   

    How long does it take?

    • Normally, you can’t apply for a visa until you are 90 days away from your program’s start date, but every country has its own rules. Be sure to do the research or ask your program’s advisor for more details.
    • Do not put off processing your visa documents- expediting visa applications can cost extra money.

    Can I do it via mail/online?

    • Some countries allow students and other visitors to apply for visas online or send documents to a consulate. Check the nearest consulate’s website for directions on HOW to submit your paperwork. Please note that you may have to appear in person to drop off and/or pick up your passport with the visa.

    What if I don’t get a visa or overstay a visa?

    • If you do not have the proper entry permission, you can get turned away at the airport before departing the US or upon arrival at your destination. You risk not being refunded for your program costs because of failure to receive the proper visa permissions.
    • Do NOT overstay your visa. You could risk being detained at the border or not allowed back into a country ever again. This is a serious matter and can result in fines or even jail time in other countries.

    I’m an international student/non-US citizen, how do I get one?

    • International students should make sure their US visa status allows them to return to the US after the program is completed- check with the GEC.
    • In addition, you will need to contact your home country’s (passport country) embassy to find out what paperwork (if any) is needed to obtain a visa.  

    Pre-Departure Orientation

    Hamline and your program will have different resources to help you prepare for your journey- no matter the destination.

    These cover topics like packing tips, culture shock, goal setting, and risk reduction strategies. Some are in person, while others have material you can review online at your leisure.

    Hamline Orientations:

    • Crossing Borders Pre-Departure Orientation
      • Takes place the semester BEFORE your departure 

    Program Specific Orientations (can include):

    • Hamline Faculty Led Orientation(s)
      • Planned by the faculty BEFORE departure and once in country
      • Meet your cohort
      • Learn more about the program details and host country   
    • Program Provider/Exchange Orientations
    • These will be online and once you arrive in your host country 

    Goal Setting

    Before you go, and even when looking for the right program, it is good to think about goals you want for your time on your program.

    We’ve started some goal ideas for you below. Take some time to really find those important items you want to accomplish while away.

     Goal Setting

    Academics and Finances

    It is always good idea to talk to your academic/faculty advisors about the courses you are taking abroad. You can work with them anytime in the process to see if your program’s courses can come back to Hamline as fulfilling a major/minor requirement.

    You may want to save coursework or syllabi from abroad as well if you want to have a class count for a specific one here at Hamline.

    Registration while abroad:

    Depending on when you go abroad, you may need to register for the next semester’s classes while in a different timezone. Make sure to speak with your advisor about any registration times that might be coming up - Fall students this will impact you the most.

    Account Holds:

    You are responsible for keeping all holds off your account before, during, and after your study away experience.

    Hamline University needs to be able to enroll you in placeholder credits, and bill your student account for program fees. If there are holds, we cannot do this. Please work quickly to take care of any holds on your accounts. 

     Financial Aid:

    It also doesn’t hurt to stop by the Financial Aid Office before you depart to make sure your awards and cost of attendance are accurately reflected.

    If you have not done so, check out the scholarships options for your study away program!

    Make sure to know what items will be billed to your Hamline account and what are your responsibility to pay directly to the program.

    If you have questions- ASK! 

    Be a Savvy Traveler


    Most programs will require you to purchase your round-trip airfare independently.

    Hamline Faculty Led programs tend to book group flights from Minneapolis to help offset the costs of studying away.

    If you need to purchase airfare, make sure you are accepted into the program and accepted by Hamline before your purchase the flight. The Global Engagement Center also recommends purchasing travel insurance on your flight - not mandatory, but highly recommended.

    There are sites online that assist students in finding low cost airfare. Some of these include (but are not limited to):

    Lodging before/after programs:

    Youth hostels are a great way to save on safe and clean places to stay. Make sure to read the reviews to make sure you find the best fit for your travel needs. 

    Hostels not your thing? Then try discount sites like Hotels.com to find cheaper prices for hotels worldwide.

    • Hotels.com
    • Expedia, Travelocity, Kayak and more also have hotel services worldwide.   

    If you do plan on extending your adventures abroad or travel during your free time, make sure to budget lodging, food, transportation and other costs. See Money Management for budget templates and online cost of living estimators.

    Travel International:

    Depending on your program there might be a daily commute to your school or you want to explore other places while abroad. Make sure to utilize international student discount rates for all kinds of travel!

    For example:

    In Europe: Eurail passes, Ryanair, and more

    In Japan: Rail Pass, Skymark Airlines, overnight buses, and more

    Do some research on your destination and discounts on getting around. Check out blogs like:

    Remember to be realistic with your time and budget on how much do or see. Make sure to take time and enjoy some relaxing time abroad as well! 

    Communication Abroad:

    You might not always have internet access while abroad. There, we said it. That is part of the adventure!

    Make sure that you check your phone’s international plan/ability. Sometimes it might be cheaper and easier to get an international SIM card or a pre-pay phone when you arrive.

    You can also use free apps that use wireless signals to text, call, and video chat (telegram, kik, whatsapp, groupme, wechat).

    If you need to communicate with family while abroad, come up with a plan on how frequent and what times (keep in mind timezone changes) work.

    Research YOUR destination:

    Don’t go into international travel without doing a bit of research on things like weather, basic country information and things to do while there.

    These links can be helpful to browse:

    • StudentsAbroad.com - handbooks and good info for many countries
    • Travel.State.Gov - US Dept of State’s site with information on entry documents, vaccines, and country history.
    • Weather: Know what to pack with average temps and other items to bring.
    • International News: CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera (in English) options keep you and your family in the know about current happenings in your new home country. 

    Money Management:

    Cash, check, or plastic? How do locals use money in your destination?

    Understanding how to use money in your host location is critical to know- that can help you plan ahead for shopping abroad!

    • Card Based:  
    • Cash Based:
      • Exchange USD for currency ahead of time at your bank, or at the airport.
      • Use ATMs for getting cash in country
      • Other Tips  
    • Don’t be a dinosaur! Traveler’s Checks are still options at most banks, but are no longer accepted widely or easily.

    Always have emergency funds in the form of cash and/or a credit card. Don’t place all your money in one place- spread out the money in different bags and place. Use hotel safes to lock up large amounts of money.

    Notify your bank and credit card company of your travel- you can submit a travel itinerary with most companies online.

    Budget like a BOSS!

    Knowing your spending limits and sticking to a budget will help you to enjoy your full program. We don’t want you eating PB&J for the last week of your program!

    Set up an appointment with the GEC to go over study away budgets and to get a better estimate on how much your TOTAL cost is for going and being abroad.  

    Airports and Beyond:

    Is this your first time going international? Even if it is not, TSA and immigration can be a bit stressful. Here are some tips to consider when packing and heading to the airport:

    Knowing the TSA Information for items that are allowed or prohibited is key for getting through in a timely manner.

    • Want a faster TSA experience? There are paid services to help expedite the process like Global Entry or Pre-Check.

    First Time Video - from a blogger that walks you through US security, airports, and much more.

    Search around YouTube for other videos or blog posts to help easy any anxiety about international travel.

    Carry On Vs Checked Bags:

    Carry On


    Passport and travel documents
    Copies of plane itinerary
    Address of hotel/program location
    Medications & medical documents
    Travel size liquids (3-1-1 TSA policy)
    Computer/cell phone
    Clothes (change of clothes)
    Charger/external battery packs 

    Larger liquids
    Larger items like hair dryer (if needed)

    Always make sure to label your bags with your contact information. Also, a lot of bags are black, add something distinctive to your luggage like a colored luggage tag or ribbon for easy visibility. 

    SAMPLE Packing List

    Sample packing list



    It is a good idea to have a folder with you that contains all your important documents and have it handy when getting into any line for security or customs. Have you passport ready to hand over at the counter or when asked.

    ALWAYS be polite and answer questions of the customs officials. It is ok to take a minute once off the plane to refresh and then head to the customs area- it can be a bit of a wait in certain airports.

    Important Documents include (but not limited to):

    • Passport (consider keeping a copy in another bag or online for easy access)
    • Visa or travel documents (Letter of invitation/program information)
    • Plane itinerary
    • Contact info for home, program officials, GEC
    • Insurance information/Medication documents