This is your study guide for key topics in the orientation and will prepare you to pass the required online assessment.
- Read the essential information presented.
- Watch and explore related content in blue panels.
- Complete the knowledge check for each section.
- Learn more about a topic in the related handbook sections.
Part 1, section 1 of 8: Health insurance
You should know
- How to contact/access your health insurance provider.
- How to navigate the GeoBlue health insurance portal.
Insurance coverage available
The University of Missouri offers the following insurance coverage for students travelling or studying abroad:
- GeoBlue provides broad sickness and accident insurance, including medical evacuation.
- All students participating on MU programs and some affiliated programs (see list) will be automatically enrolled.
- If you are registering international travel or participating on a non-MU program you will receive instructions for self-enrolling.
- UnitedHealthcare Global Insurance provides security evacuation and information.
- The University of Missouri UnitedHealthcare Global insurance is NOT medical insurance.
- All MU students participating on university-related travel or study abroad have access to this coverage, no further action is required to enroll.
- While you should print and carry your UnitedHealthcare Global insurance card with you, the University of Missouri normally would initiate contact in the event of an emergency requiring their services.
Contact information is available on your insurance card and also on your insurance provider's website. GeoBlue also has a mobile app.
- If you need non-emergency medical care while you are abroad, notify your program's on-site support person and contact GeoBlue Insurance. GeoBlue can assist you in making an appointment with a health care provider.
- In event of a medical emergency, go to the nearest treating facility, then contact your on-site support person, GeoBlue and the University of Missouri.
In the handbook
Part 1, section 2 of 8: Health and immunizations
You should know
- How to manage current health conditions while abroad.
- Resources available to assist you in managing pre-existing health conditions while abroad.
PRE-DEPARTURE HEALTH CARE
- Schedule physical, dental and eye exams before you leave.
- Gather all of your health information, including medications, allergies, immunizations and health care providers.
- Ensure you can access your health information while you are abroad.
DISCLOSING ON-GOING HEALTH ISSUES
Developing a plan to manage your physical and mental health before you depart can allow you to seamlessly transfer care you are receiving in the U.S. to your study abroad destination.
Students participating on a study abroad program are asked to disclose any on-going physical and mental conditions on the confidential Health Information Form in your myStudyAbroad account. The form will be reviewed by the MU Student Health Center, which will provide guidance about how best to manage your condition abroad. This information will be kept confidential except in case of an emergency. For this reason, you are encouraged to make your program leader or primary on-site contact person aware of your health condition so they will know how best to assist you if needed.
If you are registering university-related international travel through the International Travel Registry (including group programs such as Mizzou Alternative Breaks), you will not receive the Health Information Form and should instead discuss any health concerns directly with the MU Student Health Center and/or your health care provider.
Make sure all your routine immunizations are up to date. You can make a travel appointment at the MU Student Health Center to have your immunization history reviewed and receive any immunizations you may need. During this appointment, the health care practitioner will also discuss medications and precautions specific to your destination. Some immunizations require multiple injections over a period of time, so do not wait to schedule your appointment.
If you will be taking prescription medications while abroad, consult your physician regarding any need for monitoring while abroad. You are responsible for confirming that any prescription and over-the counter medications you take are legal and available in your host country before you depart.
You should plan to bring enough of any prescription medications that are legal in your host country to last for the duration of your program. All medications should be in their original containers and clearly labeled; do not put them in pill boxes or organizers. Make a contingency plan in case your medication is lost or stolen, and verify whether providers in your host country will accept a prescription written in the United States. To find information about the availability and legality of your medication abroad, contact GeoBlue.
In the handbook
Part 1, section 3 of 8: Cultural adjustment
You should know
- Understand the meaning of "culture shock" and "reverse culture shock."
- Tips for managing culture shock while abroad, and reverse culture shock when returning from abroad.
Culture shock is a term that describes the feeling of discomfort, unease or uncertainty as you engage with a new country. Food, language, customs and beliefs may be different than what you are used to, and you may be finding it difficult to manage a new academic system. Homesickness can begin. These feelings may come and go throughout your international experience, but usually appear after the newness of the experience has subsided and you begin to engage with the culture more closely.
Here are strategies to help you manage these feelings and get the most out of your experience abroad:
- Take care of yourself by getting enough sleep, exercising and eating healthy.
- Maintain flexibility and a sense of humor.
- Make a friend in the host culture.
Reverse culture shock
Reverse culture shock is the difficulty adjusting to your home country after you have returned. While you are abroad engaging in new experiences, learning and developing independence, remember that life has also continued in your home country. You may find it difficult to reconnect with family and friends once you return, and you may have picked up habits in your host country that may be odd or confusing in your home country. Family and friends may tire of hearing about your international experience. Remember this is normal and temporary and, just as you adjusted to your host culture abroad, you will readjust to your home country.
Here are some ways to combat reverse culture shock:
- Find a receptive audience to listen to your study abroad adventures (like the International Center staff).
- Take advantage of opportunities to meet other study abroad alumni.
- Participate in returnee programming offered by the International Center.
In the handbook
Part 1, section 4 of 8: Safety and managing risk
You should know
- What it means to be your own risk manager.
- Ways to manage risks while studying abroad.
- How to seek assistance in an emergency.
- How to learn about host country laws.
- Resources available if you encounter legal trouble while abroad.
While abroad, it is important to be aware of your surroundings at all times and adopt practices that help you to become your own risk manager. This involves identifying, assessing and reducing exposures that lead to harm. Some things taken for granted at home will be different in your host country. Learn about dangers and cultural differences you may face abroad, and consider anything you will need to be more careful about. Some possible risks include: crime, accidents, health problems, harassment (gender, race, ethnicity, religion, etc.) and civil unrest.
Prior to departure, research safety and health guidelines for your host country and other places you plan to travel on the U.S. Department of State and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites and by monitoring local and international news sources. Remember to download and activate the AlertTraveler app and review the security information for your program location and other places you plan to visit.
Consumption of alcohol can impair your judgment. Drinking culture varies by country regarding what is legal and appropriate. Remember you are subject to the laws of your host country, as well as the MU Standard of Conduct. Driving and swimming are the two highest risk activities for travelers abroad, especially after alcohol use. Use of illegal drugs (defined as drugs that are illegal in the state of Missouri) will result in your dismissal from your program.
Additional advice for managing risk:
- Use the "buddy system" whenever possible. Don't go out along at night, or leave other students on your program out alone.
- If you are a U.S. citizen, register in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. Citizens of other countries are encouraged to register their travel with their country's embassy/consulate.
- Register any independent travel during your program in myStudyAbroad. Make sure the on-site contact knows where and how to contact you in an emergency.
- Develop a plan with your family for regular communication, especially when you are traveling away from your program location.
- Prepare and plan for unexpected events such as illness, injury, protests in your host country and what you will do if you are a victim of a crime. Keep your emergency and insurance information with you at all times.
Emergency assistance information
In the event of an emergency:
- Seek safety first.
- After you are safe, contact your on-site contact person.
- Call the University of Missouri 24/7 emergency assistance line through the MU Policed Department at +1 573-882-7201. They will put you in contact with an International Center staff member who can assist you.
For serious injury or illness:
- Go to the closest medical facility.
- Contact GeoBlue insurance at +1 610-254-8771 (collect calls accepted).
- Contact your on-site contact person.
Local laws and safety information
You are subject to local laws and regulations while you are in your host country as well as in any other country you visit. While it is important to do your own research, you will also want to contact your on-site program coordinators for information on local laws. U.S. Embassies and Consulates can only provide limited help if you get into legal trouble, and neither MU nor the U.S. government can get you out of jail if you are arrested abroad. Most countries allow U.S. citizens who are arrested or detained to speak to an official from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, and it is recommended that you contact the U.S. Embassy before making any statements to local law enforcement. Additionally, U.S. government officials can:
- Provide you with a list of local English-speaking attorneys.
- Assist in reporting crimes to the police.
- Contact U.S. relatives.
- Explain the local criminal justice process.
The U.S. Department of State publishes country-specific information with details about safety and security, including information about local laws and special circumstances, for every country of the world. It also provides information on who to contact should you be the victim of a crime abroad, including local emergency numbers. Read the country-specific information for your host country and all other countries you plan to visit.
MU student international travel policy
The U.S. Department of State issues a travel advisory for each country, as well as regions within countries, and assigns each a rating of level one to four based on risk indicators, including crime, terrorism, health concerns, civil unrest and natural disasters. To minimize health and safety risks, students planning to participate in study or university-related travel abroad programs in regions with a Department of State travel advisory level three (reconsider travel) or level four (do not travel) or a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warning (level three) must request approval from MU's Student Travel Abroad Review Committee. Failure to do so could result in not having access to university support or resources in case of an emergency. Refer to the MU student international travel policy for more information.
In the handbook
Part 1, section 5 of 8: Finances
You should know
- The importance of having a budget while studying abroad.
- Budgeting tips.
- How to access currency exchange rates for your host country.
- Ways to access your money while abroad.
While you are enjoying your adventure abroad, it is easy to overspend. Therefore, prior to departure, it is a good idea to develop a budget. Your study abroad adviser prepared a Financial Planning Worksheet, which provides information on billable and non-billable estimated costs for your study abroad program. This form includes educational costs, housing meals and transportation, but you also need to consider individual spending items like optional excursions, souvenirs and going out. Using the Financial Planning Worksheet and researching additional expenses in your host country will help you better prepare for staying within your budget while abroad.
Here are tips for managing your finances while abroad:
- Understand the funds available to you while abroad through financial aid, scholarships and personal contributions.
- Calculate how much money you will spend on incidentals outside of your program each week and plan accordingly.
- While you are abroad, there will be opportunities to travel outside your host city and country; however consider staying and learning more about the local environment. Not only will you cut down on travel expenses, you may find a deeper connection to your host city and culture than you thought possible!
Managing your money abroad
It is important to know the exchange rate for U.S. currency. There are several websites that provide current rates, and this may determine how you choose to budget your money. Exchange rates change regularly, so it is best to check weekly.
It is a good idea to bring some cash with you when you travel. You may need this for incidentals during your in-country travel before you are able to access your money. Research your country to determine common payment methods. It may be easier to pay with credit or debit cards, or you may find that your country has a more cash-based economy. When using international ATMs, money is dispensed in local currency, minus international transaction fees. Be sure to call your bank before you depart to notify them that you will be out of the country. Not doing this could lead to the bank freezing your account and denying you access to funds. You will also want to ask about any international transaction fees.
Credit cards can be invaluable in a financial emergency, and you may wish to take one with you. However, it is easy to overspend and service and credit fees can accumulate. Be sure to record your credit and debit card numbers and the 24/7 international phone numbers for all cards you will be taking abroad with you and keep this information in a secure location. Also, leave a copy with your emergency contact. If your card is lost or stolen, contact your bank or credit card company immediately to have it deactivated.
In the handbook
Part 1, section 6 of 8: Identity abroad
You should know
- Common identity areas and how they could be perceived in another culture.
- Resources to prepare for a different culture's ideas and norms about identity.
Before you go abroad, it is important to consider your identity and how you might fit within a particular culture. There are many identity areas, but a few to consider are:
- LGBTQ+ students
- Students of color
- Students with disabilities
- First generation college students
- Religious diversity
Research the culture, customs and expectations of where you will be traveling. Local customs may affect how your identity is perceived. Taking the time to learn about your host culture will help you prepare for these differences, and learn more about engaging with your host country. International students studying at MU who are from the country where you plan to study can provide valuable insights about your host country and culture. Information about diversity, inclusion and identity abroad can be found on the International Center website, in the International Center study abroad resource room and on the Diversity Abroad website.
If you need accommodations while studying abroad, it is important to complete the "Accommodation request for students with disabilities" form located in myStudyAbroad. The International Center will work with you and the MU Disability Center to arrange for reasonable accommodations abroad and prepare you for your international experience.
The International Center strives to support you by providing resources that will enable you to navigate identity concerns while you are abroad, and how to approach these concerns with your on-site support staff. The University of Missouri policies prohibiting discrimination are still in effect while you are abroad. If you encounter an issue of discrimination while abroad, please contact the MU Office for Civil Rights and Title IX. in the event of an emergency, call the University of Missouri 24/7 emergency assistance line through the MU Police Department at +1 573-882-7201 and ask to speak to an International Center staff member.
In the handbook
Part 1, section 7 of 8: Communication
You should know
- The importance of your MU email account while studying abroad.
- The importance of having a communication plan with family members, MU and on-site contacts.
- Critical contacts to include for emergency information.
Before you leave the U.S., gather the following contact information for your host country and keep it with you at all times while you are abroad. Also leave copies of this information to your family/emergency contacts:
- Host country emergency services
- U.S. Embassy/Consulate (if you are not a U.S. citizen, then your home country's embassy/consulate)
- On-site emergency contacts
- University of Missouri emergency contact information.
Establish a communication plan with your family, friends and on-site contacts. Agree on how quickly and the type of contact (email, phone, Facebook, etc.) you will have once you arrive in your host country. Waiting too long or forgetting may cause unnecessary stress and worry. In addition, establish communication expectations throughout your time abroad. Blogging, social media, and web and smartphone apps are all great ways to stay in touch with family and friends back home. Remember to be careful about spending too much time communicating with family and friends back home. You don't want to miss out on great experiences in your host country!
It's important that MU is able to get in contact with you quickly in the unlikely event of an emergency. Once you are abroad, be sure to add your host country address and phone number in your myStudyAbroad account. Check your MU email account regularly — this is the primary way the International Center and MU will communicate with you while you are abroad. MU cannot send official communication to your private email account.
In the handbook
Part 1, section 8 of 8: Travel
You should know
- Essential items to pack in your carry-on bag when traveling.
- Tips for traveling within your host country or to surrounding countries.
- How to register a side trip in myStudyAbroad.
You can buy many items you will need once you arrive. A list of suggested items to pack can be found in Study Abroad Orientation Handbook. In addition, review the Transportation Security Administration regulations and your airline's website for baggage restrictions and fees. It is also a good idea to review your airport's website so you can learn the layout to find your way around more easily.
Learning more about your host country will help you decide what items to take with you. Go through your wallet and bags and remove non-essential items. In general, you will want to pack lightly because you will be responsible for handling your luggage. Pack important items like your passport, debit/credit cards, money and medications in original containers in carry-on luggage. Make copies of your passport and visa in case they are lost or stolen and bring one copy with you to keep in a secure location and leave a copy with your family/emergency contacts.
Host Country Arrival
Prior to departure, make sure your arrival plans are in place. How will you get to your lodging? Does your program offer airport or station pick-up? If an issue arises that prevents you from arriving to your designated pick-up location or lodging on time, make sure you communicate with your on-site contacts.
Registering personal travel in myStudyAbroad
Your myStudyAbroad application should include a date-specific itinerary for your program. You are also required to register any additional side trips you choose to take before, during or after your program – including personal travel. The university uses this information to quickly locate students in case of emergency.
- To register a trip, select the "add a side trip" button in the itinerary panel of your application.
- Internet access is not always available when traveling. Register your planned travel in advance whenever possible.