Here is a list of tips and tools as you prepare for your trip:
Your passport will be the most important document you will have throughout your time abroad. Keep track of it at all times and ensure that you leave it in a safe place when you are not carrying it around with you. Before you leave, make sure that it is valid for at least 6 months after your return date or longer if you are planning to go on the International Studies Program trip after IBEX.
Your passport will also contain the visa that allows you to stay in your destination for the time of your studies. Each country has different policies regarding visas so make sure that you are aware of the rules for yours. If you intend to travel to other countries while abroad, do some research to find out which countries you can or cannot enter without an additional visa. For example, in most cases if you are studying in Paris on a Schengen Visa, you would be able to travel throughout the European Union countries without an additional visa.
For U.S. citizens, please see the U.S. Department of State website if you have any questions regarding visas and passports. For international students, please contact the NYU Office of Global Services (OGS) if you need assistance.
If, while you are abroad, you have any issues regarding your passport (for example, if it is lost or stolen), visas, or other legal matters, you can always contact your national embassy or one of its consulates. These are present in the countries you will be visiting and can assist you in emergency situations. Make sure you know where the closest one to you is located and how to contact them.
Neglecting your health has the potential to negatively impact your experience abroad. Follow through with any plans you make with doctors at home, get enough sleep and exercise, eat nutritiously and avoid risky behavior. Also pay attention to your emotional needs, as studying abroad can create feelings of loneliness and homesickness. In addition, familiarize yourself with conditions at your destination that could affect your health, and make sure you take advantage of all available immunization shots prior to your departure. If you are currently taking medication, take enough to cover your entire time abroad as well as paper prescriptions from personal doctors in case this isn't possible. All students going on IBEX are also automatically enrolled in supplemental insurance with HTH that provides easier access to medical and mental health services and protection while abroad.
Always be aware of local laws and local emergency numbers. It is also a good idea for you to register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program and to monitor travel warnings. In addition, always let someone know where you are and will be. Make copies of all your important documents (passport, visas, credit card, etc.) and leave a copy at home as well as on your computer. As you travel, don't leave precious or important things in your suitcase; either have them on you at all times or don't bring them abroad.
NYU Traveler is a web-based portal backed by a traveler safety service (WorldCue) for all members of the NYU community to either book their NYU travel or to register the travel plans they booked elsewhere. Once travel plans are registered with WorldCue, travelers can be armed with information about their destination. Additionally, NYU will have information that would enable the university to assist travelers who are encountering difficulties or to evacuate them in emergency situations. Students traveling on IBEX will be automatically registered on NYU Traveler for their host university's destination, but students should register their individual travel plans to and from the host country as well as any additional travels they might undertake while abroad.
While abroad, you may experience what is called ‘Culture Shock,' a term used to describe the range of reactions many people experience when they move to a completely new environment. It can be caused by differences in language, climate, religion, food, customs, or educational systems, as well as differences in how people make their decisions, spend their time, resolve conflicts, or express feelings. It can even be caused by different interpretations of body language such as gestures and facial expressions.
Some common symptoms of culture shock include homesickness, compulsive or lack of eating, withdrawal, boredom, feeling isolated, getting too much or too little sleep, stereotyping and hostility toward locals, or psychosomatic illnesses (physical illness caused by internal conflict or stress).
Most people experience at least a small amount of culture shock, and fortunately, there are many ways to cope with it. The most important tool in dealing with culture shock is to always keep oneself informed. Try to learn as much as possible about the culture and common phrases before you go, and be open to differences. Don't judge or negatively compare the differences between the culture of the country in which you are studying and your own, maintain realistic expectations, and keep a sense of humor. Finally, though it may help to bring with you small objects that remind you of home, it is important to resist the temptation to over-connect with people back home. Establish a communication routine with your friends and family that doesn't prevent you from fully immersing yourself abroad.
You might find NYU's Global Academic Centers' page on Preparing to Live in a Different City helpful, especially its webinar on “What is Culture?”
Globe Smart is a useful online tool that provides detailed information about different countries around the world. The information is focused on key aspects of the culture and difficulties one may encounter as a foreigner. The site requires a log-in, but it is free for all NYU students and is accessible through NYU Home.
NYU Outbound from NYC
The NYU Outbound from NYC page -- hosted by the Office of Global Services (OGS) -- contains interesting and useful tips and directives for NYU students who wish to travel abroad.
U.S State Department Travel
The U.S State Department Travel page offers important information on travel logistics for American citizens.