Mandatory Student Orientation

All students participating in study abroad programs with Murray State University must attend study abroad orientation. Upcoming orientations are:

  • Winter 2015-2016 & Spring 2016 Participants: Friday, November 13, 2015. 4:30-7:30 p.m.
  • Spring Break 2016 Participants: Friday, February 26, 2016. 4:30-7:30 p.m.
  • Summer 2016, Fall Semester 2016 & Full Year 2016-17 Participants: Friday, April 22, 2016. 4:30-7:30 p.m.
  • Check your acceptance email for locations.

What to know before you go

We hope that this page will help you figure out all the things you need to know before you embark on your adventure abroad.  Packing, making it through security at the airport, exchanging money, figuring out which converter you need for your chargers and hair dryers, avoiding jet lag and culture shock - you'll have a much better experience if you understand all of these elements before you leave.

Pre-departure Preparation

Basic Tips

  • Learn as much as you can about the program you are going on and the places you are going to.  If you don't speak the language, try to learn at least a few key phrases.
  • Attend orientation. Orientation dates can be found on the program checklist for your program, found in the Application Materials & Deadlines section of this website.


  • DO NOT OVERPACK!  You will have to carry whatever you pack, sometimes up stairs, onto public transportation, or while walking reasonable distances.
  • Check with the airline you are flying regarding size, weight, and number of bag restrictions.
  • Consider adding a ribbon, tape, or other identifying mark on you luggage so it is easily recognizable.
  • We recommend covered luggage tags, as well as leaving something with your name and address on it inside your suitcase.
  • In your carry-on: take an empty water bottle to refill once you're past security.  Pack your prescription medication in its original container, your camera, laptop, any valuables, and a change of clothes in case your luggage goes missing.  Do NOT include: scissors, knives, razors - anything that could potentially be a weapon. There are restrictions on the amount of liquid you can take on your carry-on. Find those here on the TSA site.
  • Comfortable shoes are a must.  Break them in before you leave.  Tennis shoes are not always the best option, especially in wet or rainy climates.
  • Leave space for what you buy or take an empty duffel bag with you. Remember to check your airline charges for checking a second bag on your way home to make sure you aren't surprised at the airport with additional luggage charges.
  • Electronics: you may need a voltage convertor and adapter.  You can buy these at Walmart or Radio Shack.Be sure to carry your electronics and chargers in your carry-on bag. Check the voltage and plugs of the country you're visiting here.
  • Pack extra camera batteries, charger, and memory cards.  Take extra batteries and memory cards with you on your excursions.
  • Use only TSA-approved locks on your luggage.

Documents and Notifications

  • If you have not already received your passport, you can check the status of your application by calling 877 487-2778.  For lost or stolen passports, call 202 955-0430.
  • Pack your passport and an extra copy of your passport, and leave a copy with your emergency contact at home.
  • Register with the State Department before you leave so they can notify you in case of an emergency.
  • If you are planning to use your credit or debit card to get money during your program, notify your credit card company or bank of the places and dates you'll be abroad.
  • If you are not a U.S. Citizen, there will be additional documents required. Contact our office for more information.

Departing the U.S.

Checking In

  • Check your flight details 24 hours before departure to see if your itinerary has changed.
  • Arrive at the airport 2-3 hours before your flight with your passport, your ticket/e-ticket/itinerary, and your luggage.
  • If you are on a group flight, you may all have to check in together.
  • Check your luggage and go through security as quickly as possible.  Sometimes there are very long lines.  Your friends and family cannot go with you through security, so say goodbye at this point.  Once you have cleared security, there will be shopping and food options.
  • Going through security: have your passport and boarding pass ready.  You will be asked to remove jackets, belts, shoes, and any metal objects.  You may be patted down or asked to step into a full-body scan.  Comply and do not make jokes.
  • After security, find your gate first before shopping and finding food.
  • Be at the gate early.  International flights can start boarding an hour before take-off.
  • If you have a connecting flight, check the monitors immediately after getting to the connecting airport.  Find the gate immediately.

On the Flight

  • Drink water!
  • Get up and walk around.
  • Take snacks in your carry-on.  Airplane food is usually not very good.
  • Vegetarians - request a vegetarian meal with the airline now.  Do not wait until check-in.
  • You can request a certain seat (aisle, window, exit row) and you might get it.  Generally, the earlier you check in, the more availability there is. 

Arriving Overseas

When you arrive overseas, you will go through passport control.  This is not a time for jokes.  Be courteous and answer all questions.  Due to visa requirements, short-term study abroad students should answer that they are "participating in a travel/study program with other American students for one/two week(s)."  After passport control, collect your luggage and proceed through customs.  When you have cleared customs, wait for the rest of your group.  You may find that your luggage has been searched.  If it has, there will be a card from the TSA inside saying so.  If anything is missing, you can file a claim with the airline.

While Abroad


  • Be sure to investigate options for your cell phones. Some providers have international plans.
  • Parents need to add international calling to their home phone long distance plans.
  • Free online chat and video chat. Skype is an easy and free way to call and video chat. Facebook chat and Google chat both also have video chat options.
  • Free texting apps for smartphone users like What's App will work in wifi zones anywhere you travel.
  • Smart phone users should turn off their data plans so they don't get charged extra for roaming.
  • When you are calling home, keep the time difference in mind.
  • Please help your parent understand that it is unrealistic to expect daily communication is unrealistic. You might not be able to check in with them as soon as you arrive because the first day is usually packed with activities.  Tell them not to worry.


The use of your money options will vary based on your destination.  Always have multiple ways to access money. Don't keep your money all in one place.  Keep a copy of the back of your card in case you need to report it missing, and leave a copy of the front and back of your card with your parents or someone at home.  Do NOT use an internet cafe or hotel computer to check your bank statements. Ways to access money abroad include:
  • Traveler's checks are not recommended.  Few places accept them and they are expensive.
  • You can take cash in U.S. dollars and change it to the local currency, or you may be able to get foreign currency from your local bank before you go.
  • If you take your debit card, you can use the ATMs abroad to get money.  Make sure your bank knows you are going to be out of the country and that your card will be accepted.  There might also be a charge for using a foreign ATM.  Transfer money to your checking account before you go - it is difficult to transfer from one account to another while abroad.
  • If you're planning to use a credit card, notify your credit card company in advance and ask about any finance charges.

Health & Safety

Health Tips

  • Participants are HIGHLY encouraged to fully disclose ALL medical conditions including any mental health issues.  This allows us to better help you while abroad.
  • Speak with your doctor prior to leaving to discuss management of any medical conditions/health issues.  It may be a good idea to have medical check-ups prior to departure as well (dentist, eye exam, gynecologist, etc).
  • If you are taking any prescribed medications make sure to bring enough with you to last the duration of your program.
  • Constipation, stomach aches, and diarrhea are common travel-related illnesses.  For this reason take any non-prescription items that you know work for you and your body.  Medications abroad will be different brand names, have different strengths, and may be harder to find conveniently.
  • If your medical information changes at any point prior to departure, please notify the study abroad office and/or program provider. 
  • Start walking now.  You will be walking more than usual while abroad so start preparing early.
  • Nights before you leave for your program make sure to get enough sleep, eat healthy, and drink water.  Keep your body healthy!  
  • Drink plenty of water on the days of travel and while abroad.  Dehydration is a huge problem and something you do not want to deal with.
  • While abroad, be prepared to pay up front for doctor visits.  Keep receipts and documentation to get reimbursed by your insurance later.

Safety Tips

  • Be more careful than you are at home…not less
  • If possible, travel with companions at all times.  Familiarize yourself with your surroundings and travel with a friend.  Refrain from going out at night by yourself.
  • Do not behave in ways that call attention to yourself.  Try to leave clothing with Greek letters, School name, or large American logos at home.  Research the local garb and dress appropriately for that country.
  • Do not walk around with your ipod in your ears.  This can not only make you a target, it also makes things like crossing streets and public transportation less safe.
  • Leave your most valued possessions at home.  If you have favorite jewelry, electronics, etc that you do not want to risk losing or breaking leave them at home.
  • Keep your valued possessions safe.  When not on your person keep valued possession in a hotel safe or another safe location.
  • Pick-pockets/Theft. When on your person keep valued possession (wallet, credit cards, etc) close to your body and in inner-pockets.  Men- Do not keep your wallet in your back pocket.  Women- Do not carry a purse over one shoulder.  If a mugging were to occur ALWAYS give up the purse/money/etc and back away.  
  • Harassment/Assault.  ALWAYS scream and resist.  Find help right away.
  • Sexual Safety.  Research shows that students are more sexually active abroad.  For your own personal and physical safety, refrain from sexual relationships with people you meet while abroad.  Know the social cues and dating customs of the country you are in.  Do not attract unwanted sexual attention due to dressing too casually.   
  • ATM safety.  Use ATMs that are in public and well-lit places.  Always make sure to end all transactions before walking away from an ATM.
  • Internet Café safety.  Always remember to clear history and log out before leaving the computer.  
  • Trust you intuition.  If you do not feel safe in a situation you are probably right.  Trust yourself.  Never leave a friend or allow yourself to be left alone in a pub, club, or bar with someone you just met.  Look for safe havens (24-hour stores, hotel lobbies, etc) and go to them if you do not feel safe.  Find/call for help right away.


  • Ask about the emergency plans for the program you are attending.
  • All students studying abroad receive an emergency contact card. Give a copy of this card to someone back home.
  • At least one parent/guardian should have a valid passport in case an emergency occurs and they need to get to you abroad.
  • Leave a copy of the following at home:
    • Passport
    • All ATM, debit, and credit cards, front and back
    • Insurance cards (both primary and travel-specific), front and back, with plan information including contact details for the provider

Find more information on your destination on the State Department's Country Specific Information page.