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Preparing to Leave

All students will be required to attend mandatory pre-departure meetings. Besides learning about specifics of their program and living situation, students will learn about their host culture and culture shock. Besides the pre-departure meetings, and pre-departure modules in your OGP account, please make sure to review the follow check-list as you prepare to go abroad.

Columbia Campus

  • Attend mandatory orientation & pre-departure meeting(s).
  • Register for the appropriate study abroad course on SSOL (CC and SEAS only).
  • Terminate contracts with the Housing Office & Dining Services.
  • If you are a non-US citizen, consult the ISSO to make sure you can reenter the country without incident.
  • Update your emergency contact information in SSOL.

Program or Host University

  • Confirm your participation & enrolment.
  • Apply for housing by appointed deadlines or earlier.
  • CC/SEAS: Confirm Columbia billing details with your program.
  • Request that a transcript be sent to OGP, not the Registrar.


  • Meet with your Financial Aid Officer to verify the details of your aid.
  • Clear all registration holds and make sure all outstanding balances are paid.
  • Plan your budget.
  • Bring an emergency fund (minimum $300) and $100 in local currency to bring with you on the plane.
  • Plan to bring appropriate credit cards & bank cards as recommended by your program.
  • Call your bank so that they are aware you will be using your bank cards abroad.


  • Apply early for your passport or passport renewal, if necessary. Check to ensure that your passport will be valid 6 months beyond your anticipated return to the U.S.
  • Collect documents required for your student visa and apply as early as possible.

Health & Insurance

  • Verify that your health insurance will cover you throughout the duration of your stay, and how coverage will work abroad.
  • Inform yourself of health and safety issues in the country abroad and discuss them with your family.
  • Bring medication, prescriptions, etc. for your entire duration away if possible.
  • Take insurance card.
  • Get an ISOS card from the OGP.
  • Have a physical, dental check-up, eye examination, etc.
  • Make sure you receive all appropriate inoculations.
  • Consider purchasing additional insurance for personal liability, property loss, trip cancellation, etc.


  • Make copies of important documents and numbers and keep them somewhere safe. Include:
    • Passport and visa
    • Medical/immunization records
    • Credits cards & phone numbers
    • Bank account details & phone numbers
    • Insurance cards


  • Educate yourself about local customs, current events and laws.
  • Get a guidebook such as Lonely Planet or Rough Guides.
  • Explore your communications options abroad: will you use a local cell phone, Skype, etc to stay in touch with home?