Preparing to go abroad
"Studying abroad was a lot different than going away for vacation. I started working on my list of things to do pretty early. It made the last minute stuff much calmer."
Once you’re accepted by a study abroad program, you'll need to take care of pre-departure details. Your home university, study abroad sponsor, or your university abroad may have instructions—if they do, be sure to soak up their advice and suggestions!
Following is a list of major itemsto take care of before you leave the United States.
Major items to take care of:
- Travel arrangements
- Power of attorney
- Absentee ballot
- Current housing
Your study abroad program may include the cost of airfare to and from your overseas destination. If your program does not include airfare, or if you've directly enrolled in a foreign university, you will need to make your own reservations. Be aware that a round trip ticket is an entry requirement for many countries. Check out http://www.statravel.org/, a Web site devoted to student travel.
Power of attorney
You may want to give a family member or trusted friend power of attorney while you're abroad. This is especially important if you receive financial aid. Your power of attorney would be able to endorse your financial aid checks and deposit them into your account.
If an election occurs while you are overseas, you can still vote by absentee ballot as long as you are a registered voter before you leave and you apply for an absentee ballot.
If you are out of the country on the April 15 tax deadline, you can request an automatic extension for your tax returns (federal, state, and local). For federal tax returns, you may be able to get an automatic six-month extension. To do so, you must file Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Income Tax Return by April 15. For more information, visit the IRS Web site.
You'll need to make arrangements for your current housing situation. If you are currently living in a dorm, check with your home university about its dorm policies while you are overseas. If you are living off campus, options include paying for your current housing while you're gone, vacating the premises, or subletting your space.
- Paying for your current housing: This option does not require you to vacate the premises. You keep all your possessions intact and have a place ready and waiting for you when you return. This is the could be the most expensive option
- Vacating your current housing: This option requires you to vacate your apartment or current housing. Also, you will need to find storage for any of your possessions you need upon your return. You will need to make sure that your lease has expired or that you have come to an agreement with your landlord to dissolve your lease. Otherwise, a property owner can hold you liable for the cost of the entire lease.
- Subleasing your space: If you are bound by a lease, you might be able to sublease the space (another renter pays you the money and you forward it to the property owner). Check your lease to see if subleasing is an option. Even if the lease does not permit subleasing, talk with your property owner. Especially if you've been a good tenant, your landlord may be willing to allow a subleasing agreement.
You will need to figure out how you will access your checking and savings account, exchange money, and pay bills while you are overseas. Managing money while abroad has some good information on how to handle your finances while abroad.