You’re in. Now what?
Your acceptance is just the beginning and there are many to-do’s between now and when you arrive on site. Studying abroad is hard work!
It’s important to read everything that Clark and your host organization send you in a timely and thorough fashion. Please bookmark this page, your pre-departure hub, and refer back to it often.
Each step has action items you may need to take care of after you’ve been approved to study away:
Filling out your applications to study abroad is just the beginning! You will likely have to submit additional documents and materials to your program abroad in order to finalize your enrollment. These forms may include, but are not limited to, medical forms, housing forms, visa applications, resumes and internship interest forms, learning agreements and participation confirmation forms.
Print, read, sign and submit the confirmation forms that were attached to your approval email to study abroad at email@example.com
Remember, these forms indicate:
- Your intent to study abroad
- Your commitment to paying Clark and your program fees by the published deadlines
- You will monitor your Clark email, as all official Clark correspondence will be sent to this email address
- You will maintain domestic and international health insurance
- If you need to withdraw, you must inform the office of study abroad in writing and may be held liable for any fees already paid to the program on your behalf, according to the programs cancellation policies
The university abroad or program provider reviews applications and requires participation confirmation independently. You’ll receive admission notification in a separate email. It’s your responsibility to respond to the notification in a timely, complete, and accurate manner as soon as possible. Don’t wait for deadlines.
Part of your confirmation forms may include a housing questionnaire. Contact your program to find out if you need to fill out a housing selection form, and whether your program requires a homestay or roommate selection.
Clark Housing (for on-campus housing)
Once you have confirmed your study abroad program participation, Residence Life & Housing offers the following guidelines:
- Submit a housing application and chose the “Live Off Campus” option
- During the semester you are away, RLH will be sending emails letting you know about the Housing Application for the semester of return. At that time, if you want to live on campus when you return, fill out the application where you can indicate any room/roommate preferences.
- Please reference the Housing Contract (located in the applications and on the RLH website) to ensure you understand the timeline and associated fees if you don’t follow instructions. They are happy to answer any of your questions about housing!
All students studying outside the United States must have a current passport (with blank pages) that is valid for six months beyond your expected date of return (does not apply for students studying away in Massachusetts or Washington, D.C.).
A passport is a legal document, issued by governments worldwide to certify proof of identity and citizenship. It is meant to confirm your identity when you visit another country that is not governed by your own. The passport includes your photo and several blank pages for official documentation when you arrive in another country.
What is a visa for?
Many students (though not all) will also need a visa prior to their departure. A visa is an official document provided by the country you wish to visit, granting you temporary permission to enter the country for a certain amount of time. Visas vary depending on the length of stay and the purpose of your visit. They can be paper documents or just a stamp in your passport, depending on the country.
If your host country requires it, your program will provide you with student visa application information after you are admitted. You will need supporting documents from both your host institution and Clark. Follow the directions PRECISELY and in a timely fashion. Visa timelines may be tight and it is best to schedule an appointment AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
Check your program to see if it collects information for any necessary visas. If you are planning to travel outside of your host country, check to see if a visa is required for your destination(s). Know whether you can re-enter your host country on your student visa if you leave.
The visa process is often one of the most frustrating and complicated parts of the study abroad process for students. Simply put, getting a visa is a privilege and not a right that we can guarantee. Students must abide by all regulations set forth by the Embassy or Consulate of the country that they are applying to.
While Clark Study Abroad cannot advise on the visa process and procedures for every country, we will attempt to provide you with some resources below. As visa regulations can change often and without notice, your first and best source of information will always be your program and the Consulate itself.
Q: My visa application requires a “Letter of Enrollment” or “Letter of Support” from my University, where do I get that?
A: Email the Director of Study Abroad and she will provide you with the letter you need.
Q: Help! I need a FBI Background check, finger prints or some other criminal background check from the police! What do I do? Where can I get a background check?
A: First, contact your program and the consulate that you’ll be working with to ensure that you are getting the correct check. University Police is able to do some fingerprints and background checks. Be sure you are specific in what you are asking for – you are not asking them for a visa, but simply for the print or the check. If you need a “LiveScan,” you should be able to go to the University Police. If you are not in Worcester, you may be able to find additional locations via these resources:
International health insurance
In addition to domestic coverage, all students are required to be enrolled in international health insurance while abroad. Clark Study Abroad partners with GeoBlue Worldwide Insurance for any student not already covered by a program plan. Students should check their approval letters and confirmation paperwork to find out if their program will cover insurance or if they will be charged for GeoBlue.
You should also familiarize yourself with the Clark University Risk Management resources, including the Clark University International Travel Policy, emergency procedures and health insurance policies.
Clark recommends you register with the Smart Traveler Enrolment Program (STEP) on the U.S. State Department website, where you will find additional useful information for traveling abroad. If you are not a U.S. citizen, register with the embassy/consulate of your home country.
Mental health resources
Studying abroad provides participants with meaningful opportunities to get out of their comfort zone and gain a new worldview. As part of your study abroad experience, you may be challenged in not only physical, but also philosophical, personal, and emotional ways you didn’t expect. We encourage you to be aware of the following resources for how to prepare for social-emotional issues that may arise. Remember, you may not be able to access counseling services from the Clark University CPG while you are away. However, we still encourage you to utilize their online resources:
Study Abroad and Title IX
Even though you are abroad, you are still entitled to Title IX protections through Clark University.
“Clark University is committed to providing all students with a safe learning environment regardless of sex, sexual orientation or gender identity. The University will respond to any complaint of student sexual offenses, including conduct alleged to have occurred during breaks, study abroad and away, leaves of absences…whether on or off campus.” (https://www.clarku.edu/title-ix/sexual-offenses-policies)
You likely will not register for classes or receive a final schedule until you’re officially admitted to the program.
Academic policies for Clark-approved programs:
- Students should take between 3.75 to 4.5 Clark units (or 15 to 18 U.S. credits) per semester
- You may not take any courses pass/fail
- Courses taken and grades earned on your program appear on your Clark transcript as Letter grades
- Grades are figured into your cumulative grade point average
- Internships taken for credit without an accompanying weekly course will receive a Pass/Fail
Non-Clark and summer programs:
- Courses taken and grades earned on your program appear will count as transfer credit
- Grades are NOT figured into your cumulative grade point average (courses are taken pass/fail)
Be aware that credits and grades may be calculated differently than you are used to here at Clark. Be sure you understand exactly how your credits and grades will transfer back BEFORE you go.
If you need academic accommodations, we encourage you to register with Support Accessibility Services (SAS) if you have not already. By working with SAS, students can receive documentation to give to their abroad program to support the request for accommodations. Students should also be in touch directly with the program as soon as possible (even prior to being accepted) for information on accommodations on site.
- You will need to obtain a letter from your physician in addition to Clark’s Director of Accessibility Services outlining your accommodation needs and bring them with you overseas.
- Certain prescription medications may be illegal or unavailable in your host country. It is your responsibility to discuss this with your physician and your program health insurer early on, and to find out whether these medications can legally be brought into the country or can be prescribed locally.
Check the program’s website for details regarding arrival dates, transportation to the program, housing, etc. If you cannot find the answer on a website, please contact the Study Abroad Office for assistance.
Students who are preparing to go abroad should also be thinking about about navigating their identity against the backdrop of another culture. Students should be aware of the cultural expectations and norms as they relate to race and gender, and building relationships abroad.
What is it like to be a part of the non-majority group in a racially homogenous country? What is it like to be in the racial majority group? Are women’s experiences abroad significantly different than mens’? What of LGBTQ students, what are their experiences in cultures that are more or less accepting of the queer community? These important questions—and many more—are one important focus of the Study Abroad Office.
Diversity Abroad publishes several guides that provide additional information and considerations for students studying abroad.
Flights and Arrival
- Wait to hear from your program regarding your exact arrival and departure dates before booking a flight or personal travel. The program will provide you with specific visa and arrival/departure information as soon as possible. Early departure from the program is not generally permitted and students are expected to attend all classes, excursions, and final exams. Failure to do so may result in a failing grade.
- Your program may offer travel recommendations or you may choose to book your flights independently. Some visas require that you have a round-trip ticket. Know and understand your selected airline’s costs and procedure for changing your flight.
- Make a plan for your arrival in the country. Secure any necessary transportation ahead of time, if possible, and decide whom to contact back home to let them know you arrived safely.
- Once you have your flight information, you must submit a flight form to the Study Abroad Office.
- Understand that all students will experience culture shock at some point. Time abroad often begins with a honeymoon period, but that can be followed by a period of frustration and disillusionment. These feelings are normal. While staying in tune to possible problems, it is important to work through these different stages of culture shock.
- Allow time and space to develop a support network abroad rather than relying totally on the one back home.
- Learn the basics about where you’re going.
- Government: Who is the president? What kind of government do they have?
- Language: Learn a few common phrases for your country of study.
- Food: You might be cooking for the first time abroad; learn some basic recipes and figure out measurements (they may be different abroad).
- Laws: Learn them so you can follow them!
Sustainability has long been a top priority on our campus and our office wants you to take that mindset with you as you embark on your global journey. Following the suggestions below can help minimize the adverse impact of your presence and maximize your positive impact on your host culture.
- Bring a reusable water bottle and drink tap water when possible; either from the tap or after boiling when necessary
- Learn about local recycling and composting practices (rules and schedule) and follow them. They will probably be surprising to you!
- Use the local language as much as you can.
- Learn about cultural norms by talking with and learning from locals.
- Dress appropriately.
- Use sustainable accommodations and transportation available when you travel
- Take buses, trains and other local public transportation options to meet people, see another side of your host country and be green
- Learn about your travel destination(s) and how it/they might be involved in sustainable practices such as their human rights record, environmental conservation record, commitment to peace, etc.
- Always ask people before photographing them, as some religions and cultures forbid photography. (For more tips on responsible photography abroad, read the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) Report.)
Returning home can be both an exciting and a sad time, filled with bittersweet feelings. We understand! Please check our Returned Students page for information, FAQ’s and resources when for when you’re ready to come home.