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Pre-Departure & Re-Entry Resources for Knox Students

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Pre-Departure and Re-Entry Resources for Knox Students*

All Knox students going on term, semester or year-long programs are required to attend one of the pre-departure orientations hosted by the Stellyes Center for Global Studies before they depart for their off-campus experience, at which they will receive a hard copy of the Pre-Departure Student Manual. All Knox students will also have a copy of the Pre-Departure Student Manual available to them in their (terra dotta) account, accessible at any time via computer with internet connection.

Most students will also attend a pre-departure / on-site orientation offered by their program provider and will receive detailed information and advice from their chosen program directors in preparation for their departure to their program.  Also,'s Meaningful Travel Manifesto includes good advice about preparation for meaningful travel and study abroad as well as principles for conduct while living abroad. 

The U.S. State Department has a rich array of resources for student travels - see particularly the  Traveler's Checklist and  Students Abroad—both websites are well worth careful review. also has a useful overview, Preparing for Study Abroad: What to Know as a First-Timer.

The organization  Diversity Abroad, of which Knox College is a member, has resources for students who are underrepresented in international study. Knox students may want to join at no cost the Diversity Abroad on-line community:  this network provides study-abroad resources, scholarship opportunities, leadership cultivation, career and post-graduate support, and access to a network of peers engaged in study abroad and international education.

Knox Logistics | Travel Documents | Health | Money & Budgeting | Safety Reminders | Packing Tips | Travel Tips | Photography and Social Media | Social and Cultural Preparation | Re-Entry Resources: counseling, career preparation, graduate school and national fellowships

Pre-Departure Overview - Knox Logistics

Credit Transfer: Credit earned on off-campus and study-abroad programs does not count toward your GPA, but the courses and grades received appear on your transcript and credit earned by passing grades counts toward degree progress (remember to take courses that are appropriate for transfer credit to Knox - if you have questions about course selection, talk with your academic advisor and the Registrar). If you want particular courses to count toward a Knox major requirement, you will complete a form (Permission to Use Transfer or Off-Campus Course Work to Satisfy Major Requirements) available in the Registrar's Office or via MyKnox.

Pre-Enrollment Procedures: The Registrar will email you with your degree audit and instructions about registering for courses in the following term. You should plan to email your course selections to your academic advisor and to the Office of the Registrar.

On-Campus Housing Selection: If you will not be on campus in spring term, lottery information will be available via email from the Office of Student Development.  

Financial Aid: If you expect to receive need-based financial aid (grant/loans) you must complete the two-part financial aid process in the year before your off-campus / study-abroad experience. Finish the financial aid application per the deadline. Upon receipt of your financial aid package, return all required documents immediately (no later than your departure date). Follow the instructions in your award letter. If you have questions, the Office of Student Financial Services personnel are always available to meet with students.

Off-Campus Address: As soon as you know your off-campus address, login to to fill out the query box with this address. Some programs provide participants with the address before the participants leave the States, and other programs provide housing information after participants' arrival in the host country.

Knox College Campus Safety Contact Information : 001-309-341-7979 (available 24/7).

Knox College Culture of Respect (Title IX) Contact Information (with links to key resources for students who experience sex discrimination, sexual misconduct or interpersonal violence): 001-309-341-7751 (Title IX Coordinator)

Travel Documents

Passport - you need it. Don't forget it. Be sure it is valid until at least six months after your scheduled date of return. Some countries will require you to carry your passport with you everywhere you go. Determine what will be the best way for you to carry your passport securely and discreetly.

Visa:  Countries vary in their requirements. You will want to check carefully on the embassy webpage of the country you are visiting to understand the visa requirement for that country and the application process if a visa is necessary.  The length of your stay and your citizenship determine the visa requirement (for U.S. citizens, the State Department provides a searchable database with country-specific information, including the visa requirement for U.S. citizens - Learn About Your Destination). 

International students at Knox:  work closely with the Knox Office of International Student Services to ensure that your passport and U.S. student F1 visa are valid and up-to-date (and will remain up to date - not expired - beyond the term of the study-abroad experience) and that your I-20s have a valid travel signature for when you return to the United States. If you are only going to be gone for one term, the Associate Director of ISS signs the I-20 form before you leave; if for longer (a semester or two or more terms or a year), you may need to ask ISS to make arrangements to send an updated I-20 before you return to the States.  Do check with ISS about this, as you may not need a new I-20 for a semester program, but you probably will if you remain outside the U.S. for an extended period of leave after your semester of study abroad.  You WILL very likely need to apply for a visa into the country in which you wish to study. Be sure to be in good communication with your chosen program provider (CIEE, DIS, IES, FIE, SFS, SIT, or other) about your specific visa requirements and timeline for application. You must research the requirements for the necessary student visa *from the host country* carefully:  requirements depend upon your country of citizenship and the country in which you intend to study abroad. The process can be long and costly, so be sure to inform your chosen program provider of your citizenship so that they can give you advise about the feasibility of an application (they may also be able to give you suggestions about timeline and process).

DACA students at Knox:  You will want to apply to USCIS for an Advance Parole authorization to travel outside the United States. See the USCIS website for information about the application process and for the link to the appropriate form.  Please keep an eye on the time required for this process! Off-campus study opportunities within the United States (such as the ACM Newberry Library program or the ACM/GLCA Oak Ridge program or the Washington Semesters program in Washington DC) are available to you as to all Knox students (and without any USCIS-required travel forms). 

Photocopies: Review your pre-departure handbook (available in your account at for the list of documents you should photocopy before you depart ( ID pages of your passport, prescriptions, credit cards (with phone numbers to call if a card is stolen or frozen), emergency telephone numbers). Keep one set; leave one set with your family or other trusted adult.

Smart Travel Enrollment Plan (STEP):  this is a service provided by the U.S. government. Sign up so that the U.S. Consular Service in your host country can better assist you in cases of difficulty or emergency ( Photocopy the contact information for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate in the country where you'll be staying.

Health (Prescriptions, Vaccinations, Insurance)

Prescriptions and Counseling: Take responsibility for your physical and psychological health needs while abroad. You know your health situation best. Research how to meet your needs in an unfamiliar setting (and be aware that not all locations can provide the same level of support you will find on your home campus).

You should take additional supplies of any prescription medicines you are currently taking in the original medicine bottle. Take a photocopy of the prescription itself with you. Have on hand prescriptions for eyeglasses and contact lenses (and an extra pair of eyeglasses is often useful). Take enough medicines with you to last the duration of your stay.

Be aware of vaccination requirements and recommendations for your host country.

Accident and Health Insurance: Students traveling on approved programs (ACM, CIEE, DIS, FIE, IES, SIT, SFS, etc) should explore with their chosen program provider what coverage for accidents and illnesses are provided by the program.  Make a copy of your program's insurance provider information and leave a copy with your parents. Students on Knox programs have basic coverage by an insurance provider under contract with the College and will receive information from on-campus faculty program advisors and on-site program directors about how to access the list of in-network clinics and doctors.

See the U.S. State Department's Your Health Abroad webpage for additional information and check-lists. The U.S. State Department has Country Specific Information for every country of the world.  The Center for Disease Control provides a Travel Health Notices page with Watch, Alert and Warning country-specific notifications.

Family Communication Plan: have a plan in place with your family in case of an emergency at home or abroad. Arrange with your family for some form of regular check-in (but it's best not to say that you will call or email immediately upon arrival because this is not always possible). Investigate getting a local cell phone (many programs require this); be sure your family knows how to use Skype or Viber or other internet-based communication platform.

Restroom facilities: These can be quite different abroad. It is best to be prepared for a variety of toilet styles. Be prepared to carry toilet paper with you in some regions; be prepared for a lack of running water in the facility. Hand sanitizer lotion can be useful.  Some restrooms are not as private as the standard facilities in the U.S. as privacy norms differ. Be understanding, but also be aware of your surroundings and always trust your sense of appropriateness and safety.

Money and Budgeting

Managing Your Money: Always review the money information section of the pre-departure guide provided by your program provider. Some programs have agreements with local banks; others suggest credit cards, debit cards and ATMs. Avoid Traveler's Checks. If possible, before departure, obtain a small amount of currency used in your host country.  Plan to bring some US dollars with you (typically, small denominations not larger than $20 will be easiest to exchange for local currency).

Communicate with your bank and credit card companies about your travel plans before your departure.  You don't want your cards frozen because of suspicious transactions! Ask:  will your current card work in your host country? Does your bank have ATMs where you are going? What fees will you be charged? Will there be foreign transaction fees? an International ATM fee? Be aware of possible fees from the ATMs you use abroad, on top of the international fees. Does your bank offer a card with no foreign transaction fee? If so - this is the one to use!

Create a realistic budget and stick to it. Research non-program costs before departure (recreational travel, transportation, gifts, banking fees, and so on). Know the exchange rate of the US dollar to the local currency ( XE Currency Converter is a reliable resource).  Try to avoid carrying large sums of money on your person.

Plan Ahead: Notify your banks and credit card companies of your travel plans. Make copies of your wallet contents, including the number to call to report a lost or stolen card, and leave copies of this information in a location separate from the card as well as with a trusted adult at home. Consider taking a back-up credit card with you.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings: Be careful and aware of your actions and surroundings at and around ATMs (take all transaction-related materials with you; make sure you 'exit' the transaction, watch for bystanders). Use a neck or body wallet in crowded places, wearing it discreetly. Appreciate the value of coins (some coins, particularly in Europe, can be as valuable as bills).

Safety Reminders

Laws: Your host country's laws may vary significantly from those in the U.S. or your country of citizenship. It is a good idea to read up on the basic laws of the country or countries you will visit (particularly regarding driving, drinking, clothing in public, photography of government buildings, internet access). Violations of law may be handled more severely abroad.

  • Familiarize yourself with local laws and customs.
  • Do not use illegal drugs and don't associate with those who do. You are subject to the laws of the country in which you are traveling or residing.

Trust Your Gut: if something doesn't feel right or look right, it probably is not. Although you should pursue activities outside your comfort zone, your new experiences should be safe ones. Look for warning signs that things are amiss. If something sounds too good to be true, for example, it probably is.

  • Never leave your baggage unattended.
  • Protect your valuables at all times.
  • Travel with companions, particularly at night, and stay in populated, well-lighted areas.
  • Use common sense if confronted with a dangerous situation. Your personal safety is far more important than your property.

Situational Awareness: you should always be aware of your surroundings and where your personal belongings are. Walk with purpose; be observant. Use the buddy system - always let a friend from your group know where you are going and how long you intend to be there.

  • If you travel to countries beyond your program site and expect to be there for more than a week, register upon arrival at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy having jurisdiction over the location.
  • Try not to look like a tourist. For example, do not stand on a street corner reading a guide book; think and act confidently and self-assuredly. Avoid flashy dress, jewelry, luggage or conspicuous behavior that would draw attention. Do not carry excessive amounts of cash or unnecessary credit cards.
  • Never take unauthorized taxis; never follow airport touts.
  • Try to avoid arriving in an unknown town at night.
  • Plan where you are going in advance; share travel plans and phone number with a friend, faculty member or program leader before you depart.
  • Be mindful of how much you drink if you plan to drink - alcohol loosens inhibitions and decreases judgment. 
  • Do not tell strangers or new acquaintances that you are out alone.
  • Use banks and authorized money exchanges. Do not exchange currency on the street.
  • Be careful with your camera/phone and how you use it.

Valuables:  do not bring anything of value you do not have to bring. Leave jewelry, expensive or designer clothes and shoes, expensive camera equipment and unnecessary electronics at home. If it would break your heart to lose it, leave it at home. Consider buying a cell phone that you use just for the trip, for example. At a minimum, back-up your smart phone a few days before leaving on your trip.

Lost or stolen items: you may not have a lot of resource abroad if things are lost or stolen. If you have anything of value that you are bringing with you, you might want to buy insurance for it before you leave. Some insurance carriers will insure a single item, or you can buy traveler's insurance.

Social media and networking apps: use caution and common sense in arranging meetings with new friends; be aware of location and setting; avoid situations in which you meet others in an unfamiliar area or in solitary settings.  Be aware that photos and posts on social media may cause complications for local friends (for example, in socially conservative regions, casual online banter or photos of alcohol consumption may embarrass new friends and their families), and that posted photos may have connotations beyond intent if they become public (for example, selfies at sacred sites may be seen by others as disrespectful).

If you run into trouble: try as you might, you may find yourself in a situation you cannot reasonably get out of without assistance. If you need help, do not be afraid to ask for it. Your professor or program director in charge is your first and best point of contact. Knox Campus Safety is also available 24/7. Their phone number is 001-309-341-7979.  The police in most countries will be able to help you or can put you into contact with the U.S. Embassy.  Don't forget to enroll in the U.S. State Department's Smart Travel Enrollment Program (STEP).

Be aware of culture and context: be thoughtful and sensitive to cultural, regional and personal differences in interactions with persons in the host country.

For other safety tips, visit the U.S. State Department's Travelers Check List.  This resource includes information specifically for Women Travelers, LGBTI Travelers, and Travelers who are differently abled

You may also wish to review this free webpage offering a compendium of information about active U.S. State Department Travel Warnings and Alerts.  (Please note that this is not a Knox College endorse of the travel insurance company that provides this informational page.)

The U.S. Department of State's Overseas Advisory Council is a valuable resource, as well, for those interested in more extensive information about world events. Students might also select resources such as The Economist, Reuters, Foreign Policy, BBC World News, and NPR as you explore news and information about your destination.

Knox College Culture of Respect (Title IX) Contact Information (with links to key resources for students who experience sex discrimination, sexual misconduct or interpersonal violence): 001-309-341-7751 (Title IX Coordinator)

Packing Tips

Make a checklist of necessary actions so that you don't forget anything at least a week before you leave. Make a checklist of the essential items you will need to bring before you begin packing.

Print the set of Emergency Contacts provided in the Pre-Departure Orientation Manual and provided by your chosen program provider:  this set should include the Knox Campus Safety Office (001-309-451-7979 - available 24/7), your program director's or faculty director's phone number and email, the assistant director's phone number and email, the Stellyes Center for Global Studies phone number (001-309-341-7445 or 309-341-7323), and other contacts as appropriate for your particular program (the study abroad center phone number for your program, for example).

Pack Light: less is definitely more when you travel overseas. Focus on bringing only the essentials you need to maintain your hygiene and fully engage in your program and excursions.  

  • Pack a few interchangeable outfits or clothes that can be easily washed in your dorm or hotel room.
  • In addition to airline restrictions on the number of bags (and the total weight of bags) you can check or carry on, you will likely have to carry your own luggage wherever you go. 
  • Bring a collapsible bag or backpack that can be stowed in your suitcase and used later on. You are likely to bring back more than you left with as you acquire program materials and souvenirs.

Pack extra clothes in your carry-on luggage:  you may want to pack a couple of outfits in your carry-on luggage (or at least some fresh underwear). If your luggage is lost or delayed, you will have enough clean clothes to get through a few days.

  • People in other countries are often differently sized than most U.S. citizens, which can make finding the right fitting clothes difficult (including shoes). You may also have a set schedule to maintain with minimal or limited time for shopping, so it is best to plan ahead.
  • Pack some nice-looking clothes (things other than t-shirts and jeans) - students in countries other than the U.S. tend to dress stylishly (and often less casually than U.S. students).
  • Pack toiletry items and things you need daily in your carry-on luggage (including prescription medicines). Check with your airline for carry-on bag limits and other restrictions.

Wear comfortable shoes: it is important to remember to pack at least one sturdy pair of comfortable shoes for your trip. 

  • People in other countries tend to walk more than most U.S. citizens, and you will, too. You'll appreciate a worn sneaker more than a new one at the end of the day.

Bring your medications: bring any prescription medications you will need to take while abroad in your carry on, with enough for the duration of your trip. These should be brought in the prescription bottles and/or packaging you received from the pharmacy, which clearly show your name and the physician who prescribed them. While most countries carry common over-the-counter medications, the brands, products, formulas or dose allowances may be very different. You may also have trouble translating the labels.

Bring First-Aid Items: a first-aid kit shouldn't be forgotten! No matter where you are visiting, accidents can happen and a first-aid kit is a great help. Whether you are dealing with a small scrape or a larger cut, first-aid kits should include basics (band-aids, aspirin or other pain reliever, antiseptic wipes, neosporin, athletic tape for sprains, eye drops to relieve dryness and/or allergies, over-the-counter allergy reliever, and other items of personal preference). Having a few medical supplies handy is far easier than trying to locate the nearest pharmacy, especially soon after arrival. (If your kit includes scissors or fingernail clippers (a good thing to have, and often forgotten), pack these items in checked luggage to avoid security issues at the airport.)

Cell Phone Apps:  there are a multitude of cell phone apps that can be useful for a traveler. Explore to see which might be most useful for you:  there are currency converters, barcode readers, QR code readers, voice activated translator apps, maps and navigation apps, phone locators (to keep track of friends or professor), city guides, and many more.

Check with your cellphone provider for information about services and rates for your phone and data plan. Be aware that data plans can be VERY expensive if they are activated overseas. It is well worth investing mindfully in an international calling plan.

Purchase an outlet converter and plug-in adaptor. Your small appliances, electric razors, hair dryers, laptops, phone charges, etc. may not work overseas without proper plugs to convert them to foreign outlets and electric charges. You may need both a converter (which will keep your appliances from burning out) and an adaptor (which enables you to plug into outlets that are not shaped like US electric outlets).

Thoroughly research the country or countries where you are going. There is no single or universal answer to all questions associated with international travel. Each country (and city) is different, with its own unique set of challenges. The best way to have a positive and beneficial learning experience abroad is to be prepared, open to new experiences and well informed - with good supplies thoughtfully packed and unburdened with unnecessary things.

Travel Tips

There are many reputable and informative websites with information about student international travel and advice for student travelers. We recommend,, and as reasonable first-stop websites - and you'll certainly find many more. Lonely Planet and Rough Guides (and similar travel advice organizations) offer useful  travel tips about specific locations. The short list of recommendations below comes from experienced international travelers and isn't meant to be complete. We welcome additional items for this list.

  • Cancel existing subscriptions to Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix and so on unless you don't mind being charged while you are away (but first check to see if the service is available in the country where you will be studying in case you would like to continue accessing it).
  • Be aware of possible travel restrictions regarding electronics in carry-on or checked luggage (to and from Europe, for example). 
  • Give yourself at least three hours to clear airport security and passport control when departing on an international flight - and don't forget to leave enough time to get from one terminal to another and to go through airport security and passport control if you are transiting through an international airport on your way to your destination.  Half an hour is not enough to get from one airplane to another at the Frankfurt International Airport (FRA), for example!
  • Stay hydrated while you are on the airplane - drinking plenty of water helps combat jetlag and you'll be more alert upon arrival.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and loose clothing on long flights, and don't forget to get up once in a while to walk down the airplane aisle. 
  • Bring a small container of hand sanitizer on the plane in your carry-on:  bathrooms on planes are not clean spaces toward the end of long flights. Don't go barefoot to an airplane toilet.
  • Be sure you have your travel documents with you in carry-on on the plane. 
  • Put all electronics on airplane mode in the airport waiting area or turn them off.
  • Know how to get to and from the airport to your hostel, new campus or study-abroad program's point of rendezvous. 
  • Don't keep checking the time at home - attune yourself to your new time as quickly as you can - the sun is your friend! Let natural sunlight come into your bedroom in the mornings if you can. Avoid blackout curtains, tempting as they can be at first.

Photography & Social Media: How to be a Sensitive Cross-Cultural Photographer:

Be sensitive to others' feelings about photography and do not intrude where you are not welcome.

If you plan to spend several days or more with your host, wait awhile before you begin taking pictures. It is easier when friends take pictures of friends.

Ask permission. If no photographs are allowed, don't violate the rule.

Do not pose your subjects: show interest in what people are doing and then photograph them doing that activity.

Do not allow yourself to be drawn only to the bizarre. During your travels you may see many things which are strange to North American eyes. It is natural for you to want to take pictures of such things. But it is easy to insult your hosts by taking pictures of things which poorly represent their country. Think how you would feel if a visitor insisted only on taking pictures of poor living conditions, junkyards and pollution. If you take pictures of people experiencing difficulty, remember also to take pictures of people enjoying life.

Be prepared to occasionally pay people who appear in your pictures. Don't be offended.

For more photography dos and don'ts, visit: How to Photograph People When You Travel (Without Being Disrespectful) and the U.S. State Department's page Picture This: Dos and Don'ts for Photography.

Social and Cultural Preparation for your Study Abroad Experience

Key resources: Culture Matters: The Peace Corps Cross-Cultural Workbook and Table of Contents.

U.S. Passports & International Travel: Learn About Your Destination.

Rules of the House - Questions to Explore when you are a Guest with a Host Family  (from Culture Matters)

Diversity Abroad offers  Destination Guides, country-specific guides for underrepresented students participating in study abroad.

Resources for LGBTQIA students include the Diversity Abroad page for LGBTQ students, the Know your Rights - Air Travel page of the National Center for Transgender Equality, and the NAFSA Resource Page for LGBTQI students,  

Culture Shock: a new culture won't likely be scary, but it may be surprising and even uncomfortable. Experiencing another culture and traveling abroad should take you out of your comfort zone!  The experience should make a lasting impact on your development as a global citizen and as a thoughtful, self-reflective, empathetic adult in a complex and interconnected world.

  • There may be some things you never completely get used to while you are abroad; this is completely okay. It happens.
  • Culture shock is easy to confuse with homesickness -  be reflective about what you are experiencing and be patient with yourself. Both culture shock and homesickness can cause anxiety, boredom, excessive sleepiness and irritability. Take care of yourself.

Homesickness: it is customary to feel some anxiety when you are away from home, no matter where you go. The farther you are away from your usual surroundings, the more likely you will feel some anxiety. However, over time, you will become accustomed to your new surroundings and to the norms of a new country. You can ease homesickness by:

  • bringing photos of friends and family
  • keeping in touch with friends and family via social media
  • keeping a journal or blog
  • participating in activities with your colleagues and with new friends
  • exercising regularly and eating healthily
  • exploring your new location - public transportation can be a helpful way to get around (plan your route and transfers beforehand and understand how fares are to be paid) and taxis may be necessary (always use only legitimate taxi providers with posted fares; don't hesitate to dismiss a questionable driver and never follow airport touts who trumpet special deals).

Re-Entry Resources: Counseling, Career Preparation, Graduate School and National Fellowships and More

Counseling Services at Knox

The Bastien Family Career Center

The Vovis Center (undergraduate research; national competitive fellowships and scholarship programs)

Student Fulbright - English Teaching Assistant program and Research program

Peace Corps

Knox organizations like International Club and work within the Stellyes Center (also volunteering at the Study Abroad Fair and during campus presentations)

And see the many opportunities listed in the Beyond Knox and Opportunities for International Advanced Study and Research on the Stellyes Center page! (right here - look at the nav bar on the left for the links)

A few additional re-entry resources:

" How to End Your Study Abroad Experience on the Right Foot," by Courtney Burns (published Dec. 6, 2018; updated Dec. 5, 2019)

" Effective Marketing of Your Study Abroad Experience to Employers" - "Transferring the skills and knowledge you learned abroad," by Martin Tillman (published Feb. 3, 2013)

" After Study Abroad: Career Information" (webliography of resources) in

" Coming Home from Abroad: Relationships, Roots and Unpacking," by Jim Citron and Vija Mendelson (originally published in Transitions Abroad Magazine (July/August 2005), Transitions Abroad website.

" 10 Tips for When You're Feeling Depressed After Studying Abroadby Alisa Tank (published Jan. 3, 2018, updated Dec. 5, 2019),

* With thanks to the many on-line resources from study abroad / international education offices across the United States, including the University of Houston, Evergreen State, Beloit College, IIE, NAFSA and the Forum on Education Abroad.

Knox College

Printed on Monday, July 22, 2024