Preparing for Study Abroad

The Office of International Programs

Preparing for Study Abroad


Make sure you communicate your plans to study abroad.

  • Talk with your family. Let them get involved with this phase of your life. Bounce ideas off of them and seek their input. If they are hesitant about supporting this decision, show them the website (we have a whole page dedicated to parents in the works!), point out the safety precautions UT Tyler and UT Systems provide, and let them know you're applying for financial aid and scholarships to assist.
  • Talk with your academic advisor and ensure that the program you pick will benefit you academically, even if it's "just a short trip".
  • Talk with the study abroad advisor through the whole process. We are with you every step of the way, from the planning phase to the "been home a few weeks and experiencing reverse culture shock" phase. Reach out to us at any point and we will work with you to ensure you get the most out of your study abroad experience.

Identity Resources

General Resources

Diversity Abroad offers articles on multiple topics that are worth a look, such as first generation students traveling abroad, women, students on a budget, students with disabilities, LGBTQ+ students, and students of color.

TSA offers some insight for those with disabilities and medical conditions to prepare you for travel in regards to services available and special procedures to ensure you stay safe. Passenger support services are also available.

The Department of State is a great resource for not only travel tips, country guides, and alerts, but also for specific special situation advice to keep U.S. citizens traveling safe.

Medication and Immunizations

Some countries have restrictions or bans on prescription medications. When choosing your program, keep in mind the medications you will need, and do a search to verify if you will be able to take it, have enough, and/or mailing/courier options that may be available if you run out. The CDC offers some guidance on traveling with medication. Please check with the foreign embassy of the country you will be visiting or passing through to make sure your medicines are permitted in that country.

Make sure you're up to date on necessary immunizations prior to leaving. Some universities may require that you submit a copy of your immunization records to attend. Any immunization should be recorded with the officially approved stamp on the yellow form titled, “International Certificate of Vaccination,” as Approved by the World Health Organization. Forms or cards that are not properly stamped are not accepted by health authorities in many countries. Some programs may require specific shots, such as: Tetanus, diphtheria, polio, and meningococcal (TDaP); measles, mumps and rubella (MMR); hepatitis A; small pox.

Mobility and Accessibility

Limited mobility and related disabilities shouldn't prevent studying abroad. Accommodations and arrangements can be made, especially if the need is made known early on in the process. There may be a case-by-case variance on what can be done, depending on program type and location.

Special Diets

Whether taking a faculty-led trip or a longer-term trip, it's important to note on medical forms if you have a special diet (vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, diabetic, etc) and if you have any food allergies. This information will be very helpful in programs with pre-arranged dining. You may want to bring some snacks that you know you can eat, protein powder, and vitamins to help you maintain while away. If possible, and as long is it wouldn't risk your health, you might try to modify your diet slightly to allow exploration of the new culture. If you cannot modify your diet too much, before going, prepare some tactful responses to kindly decline in situations where you are limited in food choices.


All students need to be aware of local laws in the country you are visiting, but even more so for LGBTQ+ students. Before settling on your location, research your what your rights would be to stay safe. Diversity Abroad has some great insight into this as well.

Documentation and Pre-Departure Meeting

Passport and Visa

The first vital document that you'll need is a valid passport. It's the first step to international travel, and generally must have validity at least 6 months beyond your return date. You can apply for a passport at our facility. It can take 6-8 weeks for routine services, and faster service comes with additional fees. This can change at any time (take the pandemic situation which caused about 6 months of delays for many) so planning a few months in advance is advised.

If you are taking a longer-term program, you may be required to obtain a visa. This is an independent process that also can experience delays and submission of your passport. Since visa services are dependent on your chosen countries embassy or consulate, UT Tyler and our Study Abroad staff are not responsible for visa complications, delays, or denials, nor will we have any say to change or expedite any of the process of obtaining it.

Forms can vary based on the program you choose, but the study abroad advisor will provide you with the internal forms you need, and if participating in an exchange or affiliate program, the coordinator there will also send you additional paperwork to complete. Below is a list of possible paperwork you'll be providing for faculty-led programs.

Pre-Departure Meetings

During the mandatory pre-departure meetings, students can finalize their paperwork and learn about using insurance and other safety procedures to utilize while overseas.

Notice: Please do not post your flight details, travel itinerary, or other pertinent private information on public forums or media for your safety and protection, and the safety and protection of the group you may be traveling with.

Study Abroad Insurance

UT Systems requires all students to be covered with this insurance, even though we are aware that it means some students will be dually covered by a national health care program and/or by a program affiliate insurance policy. On Call International specializes in assisting students who need health, safety, and security service assistance while abroad. On Call is also the claims administrator for the insurance so all services, benefits, and claims are coordinated through them.

For additional information and resources:

Visit the On Call Plan Information Portal with the UT Group ID 100143CPPD21 to learn more about the services and benefits available to you, gain access to pre-trip resources, and access the Global Risk Intelligence site for country specific health, safety and cultural information and advice.

Before you depart:

Ensure you always have access to On Call contact and plan information in the easiest place to get it - on your phone. Click Plan ID from your mobile device and follow single prompt to save to the home screen of your phone. This is not an app and does not require any login or personal details. Opening the Plan ID from your mobile device will allow you to click-to-dial On Call, open a 24/7 Live Chat link and access other plan documents such as the full plan description and tele-counseling information.

Contact On Call while abroad if the student:

  • needs to see a doctor due to illness or injury
  • needs to speak to a nurse or Western-trained doctor
  • needs to be evacuated due to civil uprisings or natural disasters
  • is a victim of a crime, including theft
  • needs advice on the loss of travel documents or legal assistance while abroad
  • is in an emergency situation and needs advice or assistance
  • wants UT officials to be aware of their situation (Note: The student must give On Call consent to share the information with UT officials)

On Call International Contact Information:

Contact the Global Response Center via phone, live chat or email. Identify yourself as a UT Tyler faculty, staff, or student.

001 978-651-9722
24/7 Live Chat:

Register for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

This is very important. In case of a crisis, this is how the U.S. Department of State knows of your presence abroad.

To Register:

  • Pull out your passport and flight itinerary information.
  • Go to
  • Select the Create Account option and fill in the information to create a new account.
  • Select Finish and then select Add a Trip/Residence Abroad.
  • Add your trip information.
  • Send a screenshot of the registration to to reflect that you have fulfilled the registration requirement.