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Preparing to Go
You’ve applied and been accepted. Now what?!
First things first, head to the Accepted Students section of the website. This section of the website will help guide you through all of your required paperwork, visa information and orientation dates.
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the Accepted Students page and completed all of the steps outlined there, you can start tackling the stuff we’ve outlined below:
Leaving on a Jet Plane - The how-to’s of booking your flight.
Money, Money, Money...Money! - How to save and spend your money, wisely!
Phone Home! - How to stay in touch with family and friends.
To Pack or Not to Pack! - Packing tips from savvy travelers.
When, where and how do I book my flight?
Flight options vary from program to program, so before booking any flights, double-check to make sure you are booking correctly.
Discover the World Flight Program
All St. John’s students participating in Discover the World: Europe (DTW) program are encouraged to book their flight through STA Travel. The flight price is based on flights departing and arriving from the NYC area airports and on the designated dates of the program. There will be one rate for tickets purchased through the DTW Flight Program – regardless of your starting and ending city in Europe! This rate will be the lowest possible fare available. (Flights departing from and returning to non-NYC locations or on different dates can also be purchased through STA, but the rate may be different.)
Discover Italy, France & Spain Semester Programs Flight Program
All semester program students interested in flying with other St. Johns’ students are encouraged to purchase their flight through STA Travel. It is always great to see a friendly face on the plane!
How to Book Your STA Flight
STA Travel has a special website set up specifically for St. John’s students to book their flights! For full instructions on how to book through STA, visit the Accepted Students site (www.stjohns.edu/goingabroad) and click on the “Book Your Flight” section. STA will place you on a flight with other St. John’s students. You can also meet with a STA representative on campus on April 17th to book your flight! You are only eligible for the St. John’s University Flight Program if you book your ticket through the STA link on the Accepted Students Site, or in person with the STA representative on campus! You CANNOT book your flight through the STA Toll Free number.
- Short Term Programs
If you are participating in any of St. John's University short term study abroad programs, you should refer to the Accepted Students Site for information pertaining specifically to your program. Some short term programs require students to book the same flight, while others allow you to book individually. The important thing to remember is to never book your flight until you have received an OK from our office. With that being said, please call or email or office before finalizing any flight purchases.
- Exchange Programs
We highly recommend contacting STA Travel for flight options to see if they have any deals that you are not able to find on your own.
If you are booking on your own and aren’t sure where to start, head to any of the search engines listed below:
Do I need travel insurance?
Travel insurance comes in handy when the unexpected happens to disrupt your otherwise seamless travel plans – like a volcanic eruption for example. Depending on the insurance plan and the circumstance, you can expect assistance with locating lost luggage, providing emergency cash, replacing lost or stolen travel documents, scheduling new flights, finding medical care or emergency evacuation arrangements.
Travel insurance plan costs vary depending on coverage type and length but can usually range between 5-10% of the trip cost. Although it is not mandatory, we recommend purchasing travel insurance before you depart and can do so through any accredited insurance company. If you purchased your flight through STA Travel, you also purchased the ISIC card which provides some travel insurance. You can also purchase additional insurance through STA Travel.
What is an ISIC card?
An International Student ID Card (ISIC) will soon quickly turn into your best friend. This card is the key to savings on airfare, food, shopping, sightseeing and more. Benefits include discounted train tickets, accommodation discounts, popular retailer discounts, discounted museum access, and a 24-hour help line emergency service. This card can be purchased through STA Travel. Information on purchasing a card or discounts in your country of travel can be found here at STA Travel.
Planning a budget is one of the most important things you have to do before you go abroad. In order to help make the process a little easier, we've come up with some Do's and Dont's for living abroad on a budget.
What do I need to know about making a budget?
Budget, budget, budget! This cannot be stressed enough. Before you travel, try and decide how much money you will be able to spend while abroad.
We recommend that you plan on spending at least $4,500 during a full semester abroad. Some students can get by on less, whereas some have easily spent more. Consider the amount of traveling and shopping you intend to do as you structure your budget.
Make sure to consider the following variables as you set your budget:
What are the DO’S of using credit/debit cards abroad?
- DO bring a credit/debit card abroad! Credit cards can be useful for emergencies as well as travel! Visa and Mastercard are the most commonly accepted international cards, but be sure to do your research! Make sure you are aware of international withdrawal fees, surcharges, and rates while abroad.
- DO notify your bank that you will be travelling internationally! Your bank may become suspicious when purchases suddenly appear from all over the coast of Italy. You do not want them cancelling your credit card in the middle of your travels!
- DO familiarize yourself with the policies of your card, payment plan, interest rates, and general usage guidelines. Especially if you are a first time credit card user. We recommend this consumer guide from the federal reserve for tips on credit card usage.
What are the DON’T’s of using credit/debit cards abroad?
- DO NOT travel with large amounts of cash. For students participating on semester long programs, we do not recommend you travel with a semester’s worth of cash. Some US banks have international branches or affiliates, so be sure to check with your current bank. Some students use travelers checks, while most prefer to withdraw money from international atm’s. Usually your US bank will charge you a small percentage for an international withdrawal, but they also provide you with the best available exchange rate for that day. We recommend students withdraw around the equivalent of 250 US dollars at a time, to ensure you are not travelling with large amounts of cash.
- DO NOT plan on using solely credit/debit cards while abroad. Credit/Debit cards are not necessarily accepted everywhere. Depending on your location of travel, you may find yourself shopping in small outdoor markets or eating in a countryside café where they only take cash. Try and always carry small amounts of emergency cash!
What else do I need to know?
Familiarize yourself with the current exchange rate, or cost of living in your country of travel. The website XE.com provides information on current exchange rates. View a sample cost comparison of daily expenses.
For students travelling on our Discover the World program, consider the order of your travels. Paris is typically the most expensive city, followed by Rome and Seville. Make sure to plan accordingly based on your specific rotation!
Staying in Touch
Having a cell phone that works internationally is a great way to communicate with all of your friends in the program and a necessity in emergency situations. It's also strongly recommended for all program participants. The good news is that, with the right information, getting an international cell phone can be a relatively quick, painless and (if you plan well) inexpensive process. Here are some options:
Traveler Cell Phone Providers
Some companies specialize in providing cell phones to international travelers. Many of these companies will offer you a cell phone and/or SIM cards for use abroad, a local phone number in the countries you'll be traveling in, and rates that are competitive with local providers.
Local Pre-Paid Cell Phones
It's generally cheap and easy to find a pre-paid phone in each location that you'll be studying in, and you'll have the comfort of knowing that you won't be shocked by a large phone bill at the end of the semester. Buy as much as you think you'll need at the beginning and re-fill as necessary. Keep in mind, though, that you will not be able to get your money back for pre-paid minutes not used. Another drawback is that you will not have a cell phone upon your arrival abroad.
Cheap phones are available at any wireless store throughout the city where you are studying abroad. If you’re a DTW student, all you need to do is purchase a new SIM card when you arrive at your second and third locations – the new SIM card can be used in this one unlocked phone. We recommend purchasing a cell phone just to be on the safe side; having a local cell phone can be invaluable in the case of an emergency! Just be sure to know the rates for your phone and limit your usage according to your budget. Note: most countries call “cell” phones “mobile” phones.
Using Your Current Cell Phone
Depending on the type of cell phone and carrier you have, it may be possible to use your U.S. cell phone overseas. Options include setting up an international plan with your U.S.-based carrier (this can be costly, so make sure you're aware of all fees and rates included) and purchasing a local SIM card that will work in your current phone.
Get ready, it's time to pack your life into a suitcase. Believe it or not, it can be done. Packing is stressful, but it doesn't need to be. It's all about packing smart. Beware it will take compromise and a little practice. We have created a list of the ultimate necessities, and included some do's and dont's to help. Now it's time to put on some tunes, stretch, and get packing.
I can bring how many bags?!
Depending on your program and the airline you are flying on, you are limited by the number and weight of bags you can bring. If you want to see an example of airline baggage restrictions, head to the Alitalia site for more details.
Discover the World Students
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but all DTW students are permitted one, and only one suitcase! The reason for this is your inter-country travel. When flying between countries within Europe, you are only permitted to have:
*1 Suitcase weighing up to 44 pounds (remember to leave room in your bag for souvenirs!), and no larger than 62 linear inches (height + length + width needs to total 62 inches or less)
*1 Carry-on bag weighing up to 20lbs and, no larger than 21 inches long x 13 inches wide x 7 inches high
The luggage rules for carry-on and checked bags are very strict. There is not an option to pay for additional luggage. Even if the airline that you will travel on from the U.S. to Europe will allow additional luggage, you must adhere to the DTW luggage limitations for the flights between each city.
Discover Italy, Discover France & Discover Spain Students
Students participating in Discover Italy, Discover France or Discover Spain programs - to find out the weight limit for your flight, review your plane ticket and the airline’s website for your individual luggage restrictions.
- 1 checked bag per person with 1 carry-on and 1 personal item (like a purse or laptop bag)
- Checked baggage cannot be over 50 lbs – airlines will charge fees for any baggage over the weight limit
- One additional checked bag may be permitted for a fee.
- Remember to leave room for souvenirs!
- These are just general guidelines, you must contact your individual airline for your individual luggage restrictions
Seeing as you won’t be gone for an extended period of time, limiting yourself to one suitcase and one carry-on is the best recommendation we can make. To find out the weight limit for your flight, head to the airline’s website for details.
What if my suitcase if over the weight limit?
If your suitcase is over the weight limit, prepare yourself for some hefting fees. To avoid running into this problem, weigh your suitcases at home before you head to the airport.
What should I pack in my carry-on?
- Passport, Visa support documentation (for student's with French visas)
- Flight Information
- Campus Address/Welcome Letter
- Entertainment for the Flight (Book, MP3, etc)
- Extra Change of Clothes
- Contact Case/Glasses (If applicable)
- Important medication