Before you depart
In the lead up to you departing for your time abroad you will have no doubt heard us tell you time and again how important it is to research your placement. Below are a number of topics for you to consider and resources to help you conduct your research, if there is anything you think we have missed please email us.
It is your responsibility to find accommodation for the duration of your time abroad. Most exchange partners will provide you with full information on booking University accommodation but you must ensure you follow their procedures and deadline dates.
You may wish to rent private accommodation. It makes things easier if you go out early and book yourself in to a hostel or hotel while you look for private accommodation. Be sure to read the contract carefully, including the small print, and question anything you are unsure of. If you pay a deposit get a receipt.
Speak to Exeter students who have returned from Study Abroad placements at your host institution chances are they will have some great hints and tips for you on how to find accommodation. The Outbound Study Abroad team can help put you in touch with returning students.
It is advisable to take the original (and a copy) of your full birth certificate with you. Do not part with the original. Some authorities require a certified translation of this document. Students going to France should ensure that they hold a certified translation of their full birth certificate.
It might seem obvious, but please check your passport is valid with an expiry date of at least 6 months beyond the end of your year/semester abroad. If your passport is near its expiry date we recommend that you apply for a new one in plenty of time. As always when travelling abroad, it is advisable to keep a copy of your passport at home with other copies of documents and take a spare copy with you but don’t keep it in the same place as your passport.
Always take plenty of passport sized photographs for use abroad on official cards (student IDs, hostel cards etc.)
Whether your placement will be in Europe or further a field it is important and valuable to research the culture, customs and etiquette of your host country. Being aware of the customs and etiquette of your host country will help you integrate and avoid social faux pas.
- Did you know that giving a clock as a gift is considered impolite in Japan?
- Did you know that French people don't really hug, in fact there isn't even a French word for hug?
- Depending on your location in Canada a 'thumbs up' gesture can mean okay or obscenity
- Wearing a mask in Denmark can get you arrested
- In Korea a tip is considered an insult, accepting tips is akin to begging.
When you consider the subtle social customs and etiquette here in the UK it makes sense to ensure you have a good knowledge of the basics. thirdyearabroad.com have country guides written by students who have experienced a broad range of customs from across the world, travel guides often contain comprehensive information on etiquette, speak to theInternational Office or your Study Abroad Coordinator who can put you in contact with returning University of Exeter students.
It is important to check your Exeter e-mail regularly. Some students have experienced problems accessing their Exehub whilst abroad so we recommend you setup email forwarding from your Exeter email to a personal email account, information can be found here. You must inform the university of any change of address, you can do this via the student portal. You should also feel free to contact your Exeter Study Abroad Co-ordinator if you encounter any problems. The International Office and your Study Abroad Co-ordinator will help and support you as much as possible while you are abroad, provided we are made aware of any problems. In line with the Data Protection Act (1998) no member of staff at the University of Exeter is able to discuss details of any student with a third party (including parents). It is therefore your responsibility to contact your Study Abroad Co-ordinator and/or the International Office regarding any significant change in circumstances or serious difficulty you encounter. If you are happy for the University to discuss any issues/problems with your parents you should inform the University. You may also want to consider making arrangements such as giving power of attorney to a parent/guardian which might facilitate matters while you are away, eg dealing with finances.
Please ensure that you register on-line with IT Services so that your Exeter e-mail address is activated while you are abroad as this is the ONLY address we will use to contact you with updates throughout the year. This can be done using the IT account activation webpage. You should also check the International Office website at regular intervals for latest news.
You must arrange comprehensive health and travel insurance before you depart, if you are attending an institution outside of Europe it is very likely that your host university will expect you to take out their insurance policy, alternatively the University of Exeter offers a comprehensive policy.
Inoculations and vaccinations:
You should ensure that your inoculations and vaccinations are up-to-date and we recommend that you are vaccinated against Meningitis C and MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella).
Prescriptions and other medicines:
If you are prescribed or take any regular medication for an ongoing health condition please ensure you have access to a regular supply for the entire period of study abroad as medications, trade names and dosage levels may vary. Make sure that you label medication and keep it in containers that clearly show the prescription. If you need to take a large amount of medication it is advisable to ask your doctor to provide you with a diagnosis/prescription describing the medicine. It sounds obvious, but students who wear glasses or contact lenses should take a spare pair and plenty of contact solution if needed.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs):
Lack of adequate precaution means you could be at risk. If you suspect you have contracted an STD see a doctor immediately.
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) seems to have dropped out of the news but it has been reported in over 125 countries. It is thought to be more widespread and there is still no vaccine. As with most situations, use your common sense and follow these simple guidelines:
- Avoid unprotected sex
- Don't use illicit injectable drugs
- Don't share hypodermic needles
- Don't use or touch contaminated, unsterilised syringes or needles
- Don't get a tattoo
It is your responsibility to stay safe.
This really should not come at the end of the list because it is just as important as the previous health issues. New surroundings, new language and new people all affect our means of communicating. Homesickness is another common emotional reaction and should not be dismissed as insignificant - many students feel like a fish out of water at first. Being aware of what is happening to you is the first step towards coping. Talking things through also helps, so keep in contact with friends and family and work hard to create a new support network.
Living in an environment which is culturally different from what you are used to at home is exciting, but it can also be disorientating and may make you feel emotionally and even physically unwell at times. This experience is called "culture shock". Feelings of culture shock are experienced by many people as they get used to living in a new cultural environment. Some typical causes of culture shock are differences in: personal freedom, privacy, accommodation, relationships between people, the way people dress and act in public, and learning and teaching styles.
Being able to share experiences with friends can help you cope with culture shock so for health reasons make sure you spend at least some time socialising, even if you are very busy with your studies. Your host university can help you find out about social activities during your time abroad where you can have fun and meet like-minded people. If you think you are experiencing culture shock ask for help. Your hosts, your Exeter co-ordinator, and the International Office will be able to help you.
Check before you leave:
Embassies and Consulates are an excellent source of country-specific information including safety, security, crime medical facilities and traffic safety.
It seems obvious, but please remember that not all things are the same as at home. Before you leave you should attend any briefing sessions organised by your College and/or the International Office.
You can overcome most problems with flexibility and common sense. Making yourself aware of your immediate area when you arrive will help you. You should attend orientation sessions at your host institution, which, as well as providing you with important information, are also an excellent way to meet other new students.
Key hazards (something with the power to do harm) are:
- accidental injury (eg from handling heavy items, sharp objects, falls)
Risks (the likelihood of harm occurring) can be reduced by:
- road and vehicle safety awareness, forward journey planning
- wearing protective clothing/equipment (eg hand or eye protection)/good quality footwear
- awareness of procedures for obtaining first aid and calling the emergency services
- regular communication with your Exeter co-ordinator, colleagues and family (mobile phone calls and texts, email)
Be responsible for yourself. Only take essential items with you. Do not keep your valuables on windowsills. Be careful when considering inviting new acquaintances home. Don't forget your insurance documents.
You should never feel pressured into drinking. Check the legal drinking age in your host country. Again, be aware of your surroundings and the people you are with and how you are going to get home safely.
Women travelling alone should always be aware and observant and the following tips may help when faced with an uncomfortable situation:
- Do not be alone with a stranger. This includes anyone in your residence - ask for their identification if you are unsure.
- If you find yourself in a difficult situation remove yourself as quickly as possible.
- Turn the conversation around by asking some questions. Be in control by initiating rather than reacting to events.
- If this fails, tell the other person very directly to stop whatever is bothering you. Be specific, be calm and be serious.
- Firmly say "no" to any unwanted invitation and give address information only to people who can be trusted. Be cautious until you can be confident.
- Stay in public areas.
Sexual Harassment is unacceptable wherever you are. If you find yourself in such a situation please seek help from your host university to determine a course of action.
If you will be studying outside of the European Union (including Turkey) you will almost certainly be required to obtain the appropriate visa or permit to allow you to study as an international student. Please note that the Study Abroad team is not qualified to offer visa advice. Below you will find links to the relevant embassies, these will form the basis of your visa research. Please be aware that immigration legislation changes frequently and without warning, so please check the relevant embassy and immigration website for the most up to date information.
You should be aware that taking the necessary steps to acquire your visa is your own responsibility and you may incur costs for example: TB blood tests in order to obtain your visa.