This compilation of travel information for students provides helpful links and resources that will assist you in your travel preparations and arrangements.
Passport and Visa
All Northwood Study Abroad programs require participants to have a valid passport. If you do not have a passport and are planning on going abroad, apply for one as soon as possible using this link (U.S. Citizens). If you already have a passport, make sure that your passport is valid or apply for a renewal using this link (U.S. Citizens).
Visa requirements will depend on the participant’s citizenship and the country of study. If you have any questions regarding possible visa requirements, contact the International Programs Office at 989.837.4327.
U.S. Citizens – General information on documentation needed to visit another country. For the most up-to-date information please check with embassies of the specific country.
U.S. Customs – Rules you should be aware of before bringing items back from your trip.
Insurance and Health
In general, it is highly recommended that students review their personal insurance coverage before embarking on any travel. Insurance should cover sickness, hospitalization, accidents and any civil responsibility.
It is crucial for students attending this program to check with their insurance provider as to the coverage for health and medical insurance while traveling and studying abroad.
On Study Abroad Faculty-led programs, Northwood University will purchase, on behalf of the student, airline mandatory accidental death insurance and a limited preferred health plan for international travel. Students are responsible for any other health insurance, and they should check with their insurance provider as to the coverage for health and medical insurance while traveling abroad. Northwood University strongly recommends that students NOT rely solely on the insurance that is purchased by the University.
Emergencies and Crisis Abroad
General Emergency Information: What the Department of State can and cannot do in a crisis
Information on Countries, Travel Advice and Guide Books
We strongly advise that students become familiar with a country and culture prior to their study abroad experience in the particular country. Here are some resources providing information on countries.
The following sites provide travel advice and information on local customs and culture.
- Travel Etiquette
- Students Abroad – U.S. Department of State
- International Travel – U.S. Department of State
- Lonely Planet Guides
- Fodor's Guide
- Let's Go Guides
- Rough Guides
- Moon Travel Guides
Flight and Traveling While Abroad
If you are participating in a Northwood Faculty-led Study Abroad program, your flight and travel arrangements while abroad will be included in the program fee. Any personal travel beyond what is scheduled in the program will have to be planned and paid for by you.
*The Semester in Europe program does not include EUrail pass as part of the program fee and has to be purchased by the student.
If you are participating in a Northwood Exchange program, you will have to arrange flight and travel plans for when you are abroad. These fees will NOT be included in the program fee.
Sources for airline tickets:
- STA Travel – student and youth travel agency
- Student Universe
Helpful sources for traveling abroad:
- European Rail Travel
- Amadeus – A good source for travel information and planning logistics of a trip
Helpful sources for finding lodging abroad:
Money and Banking Abroad
- Currency Converter
- Sending Money to U.S. Citizens Overseas – U.S. Department of State
- World Currency Gallery
Helpful Travel Links
- Phone Cards
- Time Zone Converter
- Metric Conversion
- Bringing Medications or Filling Prescriptions Abroad
- Packing for Your Trip – U.S. Department of State
A study abroad experience will be an immensely enriching experience for a majority of students. After being immersed in another culture, students come back with a broader understanding of governments, models of business and food and life in general. You must however, be aware that intercultural experiences come with their own sets of challenges.
Stereotyping is a common challenge that one might face. Just as Americans stereotype people of other countries, people from other countries stereotype Americans. Some common stereotypes are that Americans are ignorant of other countries, wasteful, judgmental, loud and promiscuous. It is best to act in ways that will convince your hosts that these stereotypes are not applicable to you. Observe local behavior and model your public behavior on theirs. This will ease your transition, educate the locals and also challenge stereotypes that you might have held (knowingly or unknowingly).
Read and learn about a country before your actual experience. Be open-minded to new experiences and methods of doing things when traveling.
Some important things to be aware of when traveling:
- Socializing: It is best to observe and understand the local ways first. Show a little restraint in dealing with people until you understand how their process of socialization works.
- Personal space and contact: Different cultures have different notions about personal space and contact, including how to greet people (bow, kiss, handshake, etc.) or how far away to stand when conversing.
- Intimate interactions: If you happen to date a local person, it is best to understand both cultural viewpoints. Public displays of affection vary, as do relationship expectations and many other factors. How one approaches another person that they might be attracted to and what is considered a “date” also greatly varies from culture to culture.
- Female travelers must make the effort to learn what is and is not safe when traveling in different regions: behaviors such as smiling, wearing shorts, making casual conversation etc. can result in unexpected reactions from local men.
- If you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender: Research your destination. The countries you visit may be more or less tolerant than the U.S.
You cannot assume that the same rules apply abroad as in the U.S.A.
When a person travels and lives in a new region than what he/she is accustomed to, there is usually a process of cultural adjustment. Each individual responds in a different way, but the following is a general model of cultural adjustment.
- Honeymoon Period: Initially, travelers will probably be fascinated and excited by everything new. Visitors are at first elated to be in a new culture.
- Culture Shock: The visitor is immersed in new problems, such as housing, transportation, food, language and new friends. Fatigue may result from continuously trying to comprehend and use the second language. In general, visitors can become overwhelmed by cultural differences.
- Initial Adjustment: Everyday activities such as housing and going to school are no longer major problems. Although the visitor may not yet be perfectly fluent in the language spoken, basic ideas and feelings in the second language can be expressed.
- Mental Isolation: Individuals have been away from their families and good friends for a long period of time and may feel lonely. Many still feel they cannot express themselves as well as they can in their native language. Frustrations and sometimes a loss of self-confidence result. Some individuals remain at this stage.
- Acceptance and Integration: A routine (e.g., work, school, social life) has been established. The visitor has accepted the habits, customs, food and characteristics of the friends, associates and the language of the country.
Please be aware that culture shock does not imply an inadequacy on your part. It is a normal process of living internationally and interacting with different cultures. It is a process of psychological adjustment that one sometimes goes through in order to fully understand and appreciate other cultures. We cannot prevent culture shock, but we can assure you that culture shock has been overcome by many students before you. With some advance preparation and flexibility, you can also smoothen your cultural adjustment process. Here are some tips that might help:
- Read about your program site in websites and guide books.
- Follow world news.
- Try to meet people from the country where you are going.
- Stay physically and psychologically well. Eat well, sleep enough and don’t drink too much.
- Deal with any dissatisfactions promptly and directly. If you have concerns about your housing, your academic program or anything else having to do with your program site, address these quickly so they don’t stew and get worse.
- Be patient with yourself and others. Remember that cultural adjustment is a process and that everyone goes through it at a different pace.
Return Anxiety, Re-entry Shock, Reintegration
While stages of cultural adjustment play an important role in a visitors’ adaptation to a new culture, many students are surprised to experience the very same feelings upon reentry to the U.S. Re-entry shock can be even more difficult than the initial culture shock, because it is so unexpected. It is often while trying to settle back into their former routines that returned study abroad participants realize how much they have grown and changed. If you find yourself experiencing difficulty coming home:
- Try to use the same cultural adaptation skills that you developed while you were getting used to being abroad, to make the transition to being home.
- Just as you did while abroad, show respect and patience in dealing with the temporarily unfamiliar culture of “home.”
- Seek the company of people who understand you. These may not be the same people who understood you before your life-enriching travel experiences.
- Maintain connections with “the international life” through the many opportunities available at Northwood.
A study abroad experience is great way to be introduced to international travels. Not only will you have fewer commitments (family, limited vacation time, bills, etc.) at this point in life than you will ever have, a study abroad experience will also be a much deeper experience than a vacation. Study Abroad programs are designed to get you more direct contact with a culture than would be possible on a vacation. Additionally, studying abroad will help differentiate you from other candidates when you are applying for a job after you graduate. Today’s employers are looking for some kind of international exposure because it identifies you as mature, adaptable, able to relate and sophisticated in a global climate.
Frequently Asked Questions For First Time Travelers:
What is a passport?
A passport is an official identity document issued by the government of your home country.
What is a visa?
A visa is an official stamp (by the government of another country) placed in your passport that gives you permission to visit another country.
How do I buy an airline ticket?
Most of the students use online sources such as those listed in the Flight and Traveling While Abroad section. The International Programs Office would also be happy to assist you with travel plans.
Do I have to buy new electrical appliances?
No. Most laptops have a built-in voltage converter, so you will probably only need to get a plug adapter. If your appliance does not have a built-in voltage converter, then you will need to buy one. Most students do not take other appliances with them.
How do I get money in another country?
Most people use ATMs to get local currency while abroad. Just go to the ATM and enter the amount of local currency that you want. Your bank at home converts that amount into U.S. dollars and withdraws the converted amount (in dollars) from your account. Banks may charge a nominal fee for the conversion. Check with your bank for details on the fees, as they vary.
What if I don’t like my experience and want to come home early?
This is very rare; in fact, most students say they wish their programs were longer. It is possible to leave a program early (though there are financial and academic complications). Northwood cannot guarantee the availability of courses once it is past the add and drop period. Similarly, Northwood cannot guarantee a refund of fees paid.