College Center Room 518
There are many items to consider during your semester before going away and some of these are outlined below. If your plans change and you do not wish to study off campus after all, you should inform the Office of International Education, in writing, as soon as you are absolutely sure of your decision. An email message with the necessary details is also fine. Make clear that you wish to continue at Framingham rather than study abroad, and which semester you were planning to study abroad. You will also need to notify the registrar, office of financial aid, and residence life (if you are living on campus). The Pre-Departure Planning Guide will give you a wealth of tips and resources to get ready for your time abroad.
The hope and expectation for Framingham students studying abroad is that all participating students will make a connection between their studies at FSU and their studies away from FSU, in a way that enriches their progress toward the degree and their education in general. Study away should be far more than a break from Framingham State University. Planning in advance is essential, so that you can take appropriate courses in language, methodology, historical and political background, etc., at FSU as preparation. It is recommended that you do some coursework in the language of the destination country before departure, if it is taught at FSU.
Your medical needs will depend largely on the countries you intend to visit. To find out what what is currently recommended or required, look into the information provided by your program, and that available from the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. Some countries require vaccination or negative-HIV certificates. Most programs will require you to provide a medical report, consisting of a doctor's physical exam and additional information from you on your medical history and any disabilities for which you are requesting reasonable accommodations.
Be sure that you have sufficient health and accident insurance for your entire time away, including travel before and after your program. Students' needs and preferences for insurance depend on the location and facilities of their program and host country, and whether they are covered by family insurance, program insurance, and/or optional supplementary insurance. A wide range of private optional plans exist for those who desire additional medical coverage or, for example, insurance for lost or stolen property and baggage, and trip cancellation or interruption.
Unless your program provides a flight, shop around for the best prices. (If your program fee does include transportation, find out if it is mandatory; most programs obtain competitive group rates, but you might find a cheaper fare, or prefer a later return date.) There are also many Web sites that can help you, including the International Student Travel Confederation, Kayak.com, STA Travel, Travel Cuts, Orbitz, Travelocity, Student Universe and Travelzoo. When booking your return trip, make certain to check with the program or university regarding the earliest acceptable return date after finals. If there is a chance that you may extend your stay for a time, inquire when booking into the costs of making changes to your return date; change fees vary considerably and can be quite costly.
Apply for a passport well in advance, especially if you will need a visa in addition. (A current backlog of applications means that U.S. passport applications can take as much as four months to be processed.) US passport applications are accepted at the Post Office and at State Department offices in large cities. Go to the State Department Web site for the complete requirements and application forms. You must have proof of citizenship (an expired passport, a certified copy of your birth certificate -- not a hospital birth certificate or photocopy -- with the embossed seal of the city or town in which you were born, or a naturalization certificate); identification (a valid driver's license, an expired passport, or a naturalization certificate); and two passport-type photographs. U.S. passports for adults are valid for ten years; note that some countries require that a passport be valid for six months beyond the intended return date to the U.S.
Your program will give you information on entry requirements for your country of destination, and in some cases will be able to batch-process visas for program participants. But it is also worth visiting the Web site of the appropriate embassy or consulate through the Electronic Embassy, Embassy World, or the State Department's list of foreign consular offices in the US. Allow plenty of time: you may need to surrender your passport to the consulate over two months before the start of your program. You are generally allowed to apply at the consulate with jurisdiction either over your home state or over Massachusetts. There is a great deal of variation among countries (and even among consulates of the same country), and regulations are often changed for security reasons. Be prepared to provide, for example, notarized documentation of such matters as financial support, confirmation of enrollment in your host university, and required inoculations. If you are not applying in person at a consulate, send your passport by certified mail. Please note that the visa application process may make travel abroad before your program begins impossible, and that US citizens may usually not apply for a visa at foreign consulates outside the US.
In most cases, you will need to pay a fee for a student visa, which is usually a seal or stamp added to your passport (Australia issues an electronic entry permit). In the UK, an entry clearance (like a visa, attached to your passport) is now needed for visits of more than six months. Some countries (such as Ireland) do not require a visa, but immigration authorities will need to see a confirmation of enrollment letter from your university.
In many countries you may not take paid employment while on a student visa, or you will need to follow special regulations. Finally, be sure to take into account any vacation travel which would make it necessary to obtain a visa to reenter your host country, or to extend your stay.
If you are not a US citizen, check the regulations with the consulate of the country in which you will be traveling, or with your own consulate.
For entry into any country, have the following handy in case you need to show them to immigration authorities: a copy of your program or university admission letter; your round-trip plane ticket; and proof that you have sufficient funding (bank account information, financial aid documentation, etc.) to support you while in the country.
Passport photos are obtainable at local pharmacies or at Kinko's. Most programs will require at least 8 photos, so get them all at one time.
International students need to have their I-20 form signed before they leave the US for their off-campus study. The signature by FSU's designated school official (Jane Decatur) is valid for one year. If you will be out of the country for longer than five months, you should email Jane Decatur to request that a new I-20 be mailed to you. Please allow a month for processing and mail delivery.
An international student attending a college or university in the US will not be able to work on that institution's campus without getting INS employment authorization. If you are applying for summer off-campus work in the US, you must be in the US during February or March, and may not apply for employment authorization from overseas. INS employment authorization is not needed for work at FSU during the summer following off-campus study.
For a complete guide to all your pre-departure questions, please see the link above. You may also obtain a copy of the Guide in the Office of International Education.