This is an alphabetical list of things to know when preparing to travel out of the country.
IU Kokomo offers a number of overseas study classes, some on an annual basis and some rotate in on a two or three year schedule. For example, each year the campus takes students on a 9 day service learning trip to Guatemala during Spring Break associated with a Hispanic Culture and Healthcare class, or students can travel to South Korea for a 10-12 day trip in May associated with a class on Korean culture and healthcare, or students may travel through England on a 3 week trip associated with I450, the Innovation Symposium. Each of these programs is three credits and takes students from all majors. Other study-abroad classes may rotate in on two or three year cycles such as the study of art in Rome and Florence, Italy, the study of literature and history in Ireland, or the study of business in Turkey. It is best to check the website to see what courses may be scheduled 9 to 12 months ahead of time so that you can plan ahead.
Overseas study has a number of benefits to offer students. No matter the destination or time abroad, for many, overseas study offers a life-changing experience. Immediate benefits may include increased maturity, confidence, flexibility, or an ability to tolerate ambiguity and a changed world view. Study abroad may also lead to lasting relationships, or stimulate students to develop new friendships they might not have considered prior to travel. Overseas study can allow students to better understand their own cultural values and potential biases and help them become more respectful and understanding of other cultures. Students might also develop skill sets that help them with their future career path such as: leadership skills, a teamwork orientation, critical thinking, or problem-solving. Not only do individual students benefit, but they can in turn benefit the campus, their family, and friends and local community with the knowledge and insight they bring back home and share.
The cost of overseas study classes may vary. All courses require three credits of study, so students will pay for tuition and a small lab fee. Additionally travel costs may be as low as $1,600 (for Guatemala), or $1,300-1,800 (for South Korea), or about $3,000-$3,800 for other locations (like England, Italy, Ireland or Turkey). However, costs may vary annually based on airfare, group fundraising, and any available support from campus groups. All students are encouraged to apply for scholarships---see “S” below.
While most IU Kokomo overseas study courses occur over a semester—either as a summer or spring class, travel abroad may be as short as 9 days, about 10-12 days, or as long as 3 weeks. If students seek a longer experience, they may apply for various IU study abroad classes offered by other IU campuses or even partner institutions. You can find out about longer term travel opportunities at http://overseas.iu.edu/.
Many students travel with phones, computers, or tablets. Such devices enable them to call home periodically or have contact with family. Keep in mind that not all cell phones come equipped with plans that enable you to communicate overseas. Some of you may need to alter your phone plan while traveling, or purchase a special SIM card that will let you talk to family back home. It may be possible to Skype or connect with people, but these options may sometimes be limited relative to destination and lodging.
Many of the overseas study classes may engage in fundraising activities prior to travel to assist students in meeting the additional costs. Students are also encouraged to consult with financial aid to see what support they might be eligible to receive. And no student should discount the benefits of various fundraising options such as a bake sale at a church which knows you and may want to support your endeavor. Try to think outside the box and be creative. Faculty may sometimes facilitate or have ideas you may act upon.
Some trips require students to walk some distance (as much as 5-7 miles a day), or may require that students walk on uneven surfaces (cobblestone roads) or on inclines (hills or stairs). In many locations there may be more limited access to escalators or elevators, so more human power is often called for. If students are generally healthy, they might just seek to get into a little better shape before travel. Faculty will discuss potential health issues with students prior to travel and will travel with a first aid kit for any minor cuts, stomach upsets, or passing health issues. It is also important to consider immunization requirements, possible dietary changes, and any personal health issues which should be planned for in advance of travel. For example, you want to prepare and package medical prescriptions, and any other supports which would make the experience a better one for you. All students will also be asked to fill out a health form so that faculty can help the student in the event of an emergency.
All students must enroll in health insurance with sufficient coverage to assist them should they become ill or have an accident while abroad. Students will be provided with an IU-recommended option which is quite inexpensive, but may also enroll in a faculty-recommended insurance program which provides a minimum level of coverage and may also provide for some level of trip-cancellation protection.
Since most trips travel by plane, students might want to prepare in advance for potential jet lag. Jet lag may involve fatigue or insomnia that results when you cross time zones and the accompanying change in sleep patterns. Jet lag tends to be more noticeable when people travel east or west, rather than north or south, since there is likely to be a greater time change involved. Minor short term symptoms like forgetfulness, anxiety, or dehydration may also occur. You may notice symptoms upon your return to the states—but some people might also experience mild symptoms during initial travel—particularly when you travel east (losing time). Usually symptoms can be relieved by drinking lots of water, taking melatonin or a mild sleeping aid, or moderated use of caffeine. For more information, review this Mayo clinic online source: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/jet-lag/basics/definition/con-20032662.
Faculty will recommend you avoid local, un-bottled water—this is an important practice and may also extend to avoiding ice, or certain types of food which might be prepared in less sanitary conditions (such as certain street vendors). The sampling of local cuisine is one of the joys of travel and cultural exchange; try to taste new things and go with the flow. But make sure to alert faculty or hosts to any allergies or foods which might pose a risk, cause indigestion, or be prohibited by your religious faith or value system. Think about such possibilities ahead of time and talk them over with faculty. Get plenty of sleep when you can and try to stay in the moment when awake—you will see amazing sights and can make the most interesting observations when you are attentive and curious to what is occurring or taking place around you. Be sensitive and tactful with the people traveling with you and you will soon find supporters and friends.
Most students will stay in hotels or college residences while they travel overseas. Most trips are based on double-occupancy, but students may sometimes pay an additional fee for a single room. Faculty can usually provide the location and contact information for all stops well in advance of travel so you can share it with those people closest to you.
Even if students pay in advance for meals, lodging and travel, they will still want to take some money to spend for additional soft drinks or water, souvenirs, or materials to bring back home, or last-minute purchases (such as a meal in an airport caused by a plane delay, or batteries for a camera). Faculty will discuss local currency with students, suggest options for purchasing such currency in advance and sometimes provide routine stops for them to convert currency while traveling.
In addition to traveling students, some programs may also accept campus alumni, the spouse or older child (16 or above) of a traveling student, or faculty or staff on travel programs. These additional travelers are expected to participate in all travel program activities and must attend orientation sessions prior to travel.
All travel programs offer at least one to two orientation sessions prior to overseas travel. These sessions provide students information about logistics (like costs, hotels/residence, how and what to pack, itinerary, emergency contact, and so on), safety procedures (what health steps to take in advance of travel, vaccinations and so on, rules and procedures students must follow while traveling) and behavioral expectations (treatment of one another, tour facilitators, and policies relative to time management). Orientations provide travelers a chance to meet and bond with one another and allow faculty to clearly detail policies and campus expectations.
All overseas study travel programs require passports. To be valid, all passports must be good for at least SIX months of use AFTER your return date—so if your passport is about to run out, you may want to consider renewing before you travel. You can find out how to apply for a passport and facilitate applications at this website: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/passports/apply.html. Passport fees are approximately $135 depending on the passport you acquire. It is strongly recommended that you secure a passport early on once you decide to go on a travel program since you will have to pay more to speed up the process.
Most overseas study classes build in journals to assist students as they reflect and take in the experiences they have overseas. Some courses may also expect students to document the trip in various ways (through interviews, photographs, sketches or artwork, writing, etc.), or provide students an opportunity to complete such reflection/research upon their return to campus. Keep in mind that all overseas study classes have some academic outcomes they seek to accomplish that are facilitated by travel to particular sites whether historical, cultural, or a setting for on-site research.
IU Kokomo currently provides a number of scholarships for overseas study. The Emita B. Hill scholarship provides one student $500 for short or long-term programs and is awarded on an annual basis. There are 14 David Starr Jordan Scholarships, co-funded by IU Kokomo and IU Bloomington that students can apply for on an annual basis. These competitive $500 scholarships may be applied to any program, as long as students have a GPA of 2.75 or higher, are taking three credits of study, and traveling on a campus-initiated program. There are also four $1,000 scholarships awarded annually to students who have a GPA of 3.0 or above. These competitive Selzer International Studies Scholarships are awarded to students from any discipline. Finally, students may apply to the David and Anna Global Scholarship. This competitive scholarship will be earned by a full time student who has a GPA of 3.0, demonstrates financial need and is participating in an IU approved credit-bearing IU Kokomo overseas study class outside Canada and the United States. Preference will be given to a student majoring in business. Please visit our scholarships page to apply.
Most overseas study classes fly to the destination of study. Some of these flights may be as short as 6 hours, or when traveling to further destinations, like Asia, as long as 14-22 hours. Some flights will be direct from Chicago and students will either have a connecting flight to Indianapolis or will travel by bus, as a group, to their flight in Chicago. Routing is often based on cost and trip itinerary and faculty work to make the experience as easy and as much fun as possible. Students fly on major carriers where they will have access to food, as well as in-flight games or movies.
Keep in mind that you are advised not to travel with any jewelry or expensive items you would hate to lose. Keep these safely at home and select less costly items for your travel. Generally travelers are advised to pack light and to consider smaller luggage with wheels. Don’t encumber yourself with excess baggage, books, or electronics that you will have to lug and track while traveling. This is especially true when you plan to take more than one mode of travel (combining air with trains, buses, or subway). Your faculty leader will share tips for how to pack and what to take. Try to follow their recommendations.
In addition to passports, some countries where overseas study classes travel may also require a travel visa. Some visas may not require an additional cost, but may need to be secured in advance of travel or for a particular purpose while traveling. Other tourist visas may involve an additional cost. For example, a visa to travel in Turkey may be $20-30 depending on if you get an online electronic visa or purchase at the border. Visa fees for travel to a country like China may be as much as $125 US. Faculty will inform you when a visa fee is required and explain what steps will be needed to be completed on a timeline. Make sure to talk such matters over with faculty and ask any questions that you may have.
Students may also pursue internships or participate in student teaching overseas, dependent on their major and area of interest. In 2014, three education students from IU Kokomo student-taught in New Zealand. If you are interested in such an opportunity, talk with your advisor or school Dean to see if such a program or internship may be offered through our campus or another IU campus. You can also make an appointment with the Overseas Study advisor to see what might be possible. Take initiative! You never know where it might lead!