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Study Abroad


Frequently Asked Questions

Engineering students visit the beach in Brazil. Photo submitted by SAU Professor Jodi Prosise.

General Questions (see below)
How to Apply
Parent Questions

General Questions

Am I eligible to study abroad?

Students are eligible to apply for semester-long programs if they meet the following requirements:

   1.     At least sophomore status by the beginning of the study abroad program.
   2.     Minimum 2.5 GPA (Some of our programs have a higher minimum GPA).
   3.     No restrictions in Student Accounts or Student Services.

Students are eligible to apply for short-term programs if they meet the following requirements:
   1.     Good academic standing. (SAU faculty leaders can use their discretion on the GPA requirement).
   2.     No restrictions in Student Accounts or Student Services.

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What kinds of study abroad programs does SAU offer?
SAU offers semester-long and short-term study abroad programs. We offer Exchange programs, Provider programs, and SAU short-term faculty-led programs. We also work with several international education partners to offer a wide variety of study abroad, as well as overseas internship and volunteer opportunities.
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What is the best time to study abroad?
Any time is a good time to study abroad! All undergraduate students can participate in a short-term program.  Most semester students study abroad during sophomore or junior year. With careful planning, it is definitely still possible to study abroad during senior year. 

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Will I still graduate on time?
Yes! Students earn between 12-18 credits during their study abroad semester. Students must have their courses approved by their academic advisor(s) prior to departure to ensure that they will receive credit. With a little planning, it should be easy to stay on track!
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Can I afford to study abroad?
Yes! Some semester programs are actually less expensive than spending a semester on campus!

Students participating in a semester exchange program can take their full SAU scholarship package (excluding work study) for one semester.

Students that choose one of our approved semester provider programs may apply up to $4,000 of your SAU scholarship award plus any state/federal aid (excluding work study) to their study abroad costs. Students are encouraged to apply for scholarships through their program provider and for nationally competitive awards like the Gilman or Boren scholarship.

Contact the Financial Aid Office for more information on funding for study abroad.
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Is study abroad worth the money?
Yes! Studying abroad is a cost-effective way to travel and experience the world while earning college credit. Studying abroad will enable you to grow personally, emotionally, culturally and academically. You'll learn valuable skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and communication across cultures. Adding international experience to your resume will make you more marketable to employers. Study Abroad is a great investment in your future!
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How to Apply

Who should I ask to fill out my faculty reference forms?
Faculty and academic advisors make excellent references! Work study supervisors, hall directors, coaches and mentors are also good choices. Please submit at least one faculty recommendation. Choose people who know you well and can give you an accurate and fair recommendation. If you are applying for an SAU faculty-led program, do NOT ask that faculty leader to be your reference.
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What is a passport photo?
A passport photo is a 2x2 color picture of your head and shoulders, taken from the front. In newer passport photos, you are not allowed to smile. An acceptable passport photo is printed on photo paper. Electronic copies and photocopies are not accepted. Passport photos can be taken at Walgreens for approximately $10 for a set of 2.
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If I already have a passport. Do I still need to turn in a passport photo?
If you are applying for our Carlow, Ireland program or any program in Brazil or India, then yes. You must turn in another passport photo. The passport photo is used for visa applications or for student ID cards.
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Acceptance Into Study Abroad

How do I apply for a passport?
Pick up a passport application at the Center for International Education office or visit the State Department for an application and instructions. You should request a passport booklet for international travel. The new passport card is not as widely accepted.
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Do I need a visa?
Perhaps. Visa requirements vary by country and often depend on the length of your stay. The State Department offers a comprehensive list of specific Entry/Exit requirements for US travelers. You should also read all your post-acceptance materials carefully to determine whether or not you will need a visa. Your program provider and the Center for International Education will help you through the visa process. 
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Why do I need to send my passport with my visa application?
The visa will be attached to a page in your passport, so you will need to include your actual passport booklet with the rest of your visa application materials. When mailing your visa application, use a service such as FedEx that allows you to track your shipment. 
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Do I need any vaccinations?
Perhaps. Vaccination requirements vary by country. The Centers for Disease Control have up-to-date country specific information. If you need a vaccination or immunization, contact your primary health care physician or the local Passport Health clinic. 
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What classes should I take when I am abroad?
Work with your academic advisor, study abroad coordinator and/or program provider to determine which classes you should take while abroad. Oftentimes, you will pre-register for classes when you are accepted into a study abroad program. Your actual schedule will be determined when you reach your destination. Therefore it is wise to choose a few "back-up" courses in case you need to make changes. Your academic advisor must sign off on all of your course selections before you depart. Notify your advisor and the Center for International Education if you make any changes to your schedule. 
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Do I need to register for study abroad classes?
No. The Center for International Education will work with Office of the Registrar to register all study abroad students. Semester students will be registered for Overseas (OVS) 300 for 12 credits. OVS 300 is a place saver so you can retain your full-time student status at SAU while you are gone. Your actual classes and credits will be transferred in when we receive your transcripts. Students may not exceed 18 credits for their study abroad term or they will be subject to additional fees.  
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Can I take Writing Intensive courses while abroad?
No.  Writing Intensive (WI) courses at SAU are specially formulated to meet certain standards and must pass an approval process to receive the WI designation. In most cases, overseas institutions require students to complete far fewer writing assignments and they do not meet the same standards as WI classes at home. If you choose to take a WI equivalent course while abroad, you will receive academic credit for the course, but you will not receive WI credit.
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Should I still register for on-campus classes?
That's your decision. If you have any doubts about studying abroad, registering at SAU will provide you with a safety net in case you don't get accepted or need to withdraw your application. If you do register for on-campus classes, remember to drop them before you study abroad to avoid additional tuition fees. 
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Will my study abroad grades count toward my GPA?
Yes. Approved study abroad courses will transfer back to SAU and grades do count toward your GPA. So go to class and study hard! 
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How long will it take to receive my grades?
It usually takes 6-8 weeks for grades to come back from our international partners.
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How do I arrange to live on campus when I return to SAU?
Contact Residence Life and submit a housing contract before you leave campus. 
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How do I pay my bill and who should I pay?
We set up direct billing agreements with our program providers.That means you will pay an SAU bill even if you don't study abroad on an SAU program. You should submit your payment to Student Account Services either in person or through the mail or through Beeline. Checks should be made payable to St. Ambrose University. All program deposits will be subtracted from your total program cost. 
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Where can I find more information about my host country?
The SAU Library is a great resource to start researching your host country. There are also a multitude of websites where students can learn more. Don't settle for Wikipedia - dig deeper. The more you know about your host country, the easier it will be to adjust to your new surroundings.
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Parent Questions

When is the best time for students to study abroad?
Students are eligible for short-term study abroad programs as early as their freshman year. It is advisable for students wishing to spend a semester abroad to go during their sophomore or junior year so that they can fulfill remaining General Education requirements and courses in their major. It is still possible for seniors to study abroad, but it may require more preliminary planning so that the student can fulfill their remaining academic requirements.
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How far in advance do students need to start planning to study abroad?
Students planning to spend a semester abroad should start planning at least one or two semesters in advance. They will need to decide which program is the best fit for their academic and personal needs, obtain course approval from their academic advisor(s), complete the application process, apply for any available scholarships, and make sure their financial aid is in order. Application deadlines are usually in October for the Spring semester and April for Summer and Fall programs. NOTE: Deadlines for exchange programs are much earlier and require more planning.
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Is studying abroad safe?
Yes!  The Center for International Education works with reputable program providers and educational institutions overseas. All of our programs have on-site support for students. While absolute safety cannot be guaranteed, students play a major role in their own personal safety and security.  We strive to prepare students for their overseas experience by giving them the tools and information they need to take care of themselves while abroad. When students use common sense and behave responsibly they are more likely to have a safe experience abroad.
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Will my son/daughter receive academic credit for studying abroad?
Yes, all credits that your child earns while abroad should transfer back to St. Ambrose. As part of the application process, students must have any study abroad courses in their major/minor approved by their academic advisor. General Education courses can be approved by the student's academic advisor or a study abroad advisor.

Students do have the option of taking elective classes on a Pass/No Pass basis while abroad. They must obtain approval from their academic advisor and contact the Center for International Education by the third week of classes to make this designation.

All grades earned while abroad (with the exception of courses designated as Pass/No Pass) will count toward the student's cumulative GPA.
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Will my son/daughter fall behind by studying abroad?
With proper planning, your child should not fall behind by studying abroad. We recommend that students discuss their study abroad plans with their academic advisor at least one or two semesters before they apply. The academic advisor can help a student choose which academic requirements they should fulfill while abroad.
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Can my son/daughter use their financial aid to pay for study abroad?
Students participating in study abroad programs through one of our exchange partners can apply their entire SAU scholarship package (excluding work study funds) to study abroad.

Students participating in an approved partner program may use up to $4,000 of their SAU scholarship award.

Eligible students can also use Federal and State loans and private funding sources to pay for study abroad.

Students are required to meet with the Financial Aid office prior to studying abroad to make sure their aid is in order before they depart. For questions regarding financial aid, please contact the Financial Aid Office.
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Do you have a monthly billing plan?
No, monthly billing plans cannot be applied to study abroad. The full amount must be paid in full prior to the student's departure.
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Is the program deposit deducted from the total program fee?
Yes. The deposit is applied to the total cost of the program. Deposits paid directly to other program providers will be deducted from the total program fee charged by St. Ambrose.
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Does St. Ambrose charge a study abroad fee?
Yes. All semester study abroad students are charged a $300 study abroad fee. This fee is built into the total program cost.  Short-term students are charged a $125 study abroad fee.
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It's close to the due date for paying the program fee. Why haven't I received an invoice yet?
In most cases, St. Ambrose establishes direct billing relationships with our study abroad partners. The direct billing procedure makes it easier to allocate financial aid to study abroad costs. You can expect to receive a bill from St. Ambrose University. Once the student's payment is received and financial aid is released, St. Ambrose will then pay the partner institution on the student's behalf. If you receive an invoice directly from the program provider, please contact the Center for International Education.
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Will my son/daughter need any special vaccinations before going abroad?
Students should have all their regular vaccinations up to date prior to going abroad. For country-specific information regarding additional vaccinations, please see the Centers for Disease Control.
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Should my son/daughter get a physical before going abroad?
Yes, the Center for International Education recommends that students take care of all their routine medical visits (family doctor, dentist, optometrist, etc.) before going abroad. If students are taking prescription medications, they should bring enough for the duration of their study abroad program. They should pack prescriptions in their original labeled containers and keep a copy of the prescription on hand. It is advisable that the prescription be written for the generic form of the drug as name-brand medications may be difficult to obtain overseas.
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Does my son/daughter need additional health insurance?
Supplemental study abroad insurance will be provided for all SAU faculty-led short-term program participants and our semester-long exchange students. This insurance coverage is included in the student's program fee.

Prior to departure, students will receive an insurance card, a brochure detailing their coverage, claim forms, and instructions on how to file a claim.

Students traveling abroad with partner programs should pay close attention to their acceptance packet and pre-departure materials for additional information regarding insurance requirements as each program provider has its own insurance guidelines.
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What happens if my son/daughter needs to see a doctor while abroad?
The student should contact his/her program director or international office immediately if they need to see a doctor. During on-site orientation, students usually receive information about where to go if they need medical attention. Some programs have special agreements with specific doctors and clinics.

Students should plan to pay for all medical costs up front and get reimbursed by the insurance company later. Receipts for all medical visits should be kept and submitted to the insurance company along with a claim form.
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Does my son/daughter need to buy travel or property insurance?
Travel or property insurance is not required, but can be useful in the case of travel delays or loss/theft. Check with your insurance company to see if your home owner's policy covers your child's property when they are abroad.  If students are responsible for purchasing their own plane ticket, you can usually add on travel insurance. The International Student ID (ISIC) card may be a good investment because it provides students with a small amount of travel and property insurance as well as many student discounts around the world.
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My son/daughter was supposed to call me as soon as he/she arrived. I haven't heard from him/her yet and I am worried.
Try not to panic. Most students simply are not cognizant of how much their parents are worrying about them. They are tired from traveling or are busy trying to get settled in. Sometimes it takes a few days for students to set up internet or phone service. If you are concerned, please email the Center for International Education. We will locate your son/daughter, let you know that we have reached him/her, and ask him/her to contact you.
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My son/daughter's study abroad program just started and he/she already wants to come home. What should I do?
Stay calm. Severe homesickness at the beginning of the semester is often the result of sleep deprivation and cultural overload. Reassure your son or daughter that homesickness is a normal part of the study abroad experience and that it will pass. Remind your student of all the things they were looking forward to doing while abroad. Encourage your son or daughter to start making travel plans, join an activity on campus, or spend time exploring their new home with their peers. When a student has something to look forward to, it helps them overcome their initial homesickness.

Don't overreact. Don't buy your student a plane ticket home without giving him or her adequate time to adjust to the new environment. In almost every case, the students decide to stay where they are and thoroughly enjoy their experience.

Don't encourage them to call home every day. Although staying in touch with family and friends on a regular basis is recommended, focusing too much on life back home can take away from the student's overall study abroad experience and often makes homesickness worse. Help your student strike a good balance.
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When will my student receive his/her grades?
Depending on the program, it usually takes between 6-8 weeks to receive transcripts from abroad. In some cases, it can take even longer. Once the study abroad credits are transferred in, Office of the Registrar will send an unofficial transcript to the student.
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