Preparation Checklist for Non-Columbia Undergraduate Students

Although you aren't at Columbia for pre-departure preparations, we encourage you to remain engaged with our office throughout the process. We are always happy to answer your questions over email or by phone so that you can feel fully prepared for your program. If you happen to be in New York when we hold our pre-departure meeting for your program, please be sure to let us know so that we can include you.

Whether you are joining us from a formal consortium partner or independently, be sure to consult closely with your home school study abroad office to make sure you haven't missed any important steps.

Home School Campus

  • Complete all post-acceptance materials in your Columbia-Led program application by the due dates.
  • Attend and complete mandatory orientation and pre-departure meeting(s) required by your home school.
  • Make sure you have attended to all of the processes required by your school in order to be away for a semester, including consulting with your academic department, financial aid office, and your health services office, if necessary.
  • If you are a non-US citizen, consult the office that works with international students on your home campus to make sure you can reenter the country appropriately.
  • Make sure that you have completed Columbia's International Travel Policy steps.
  • Create a profile and a trip in ISOS.


  • Be sure you review the financial information provided by your home school study abroad office.
  • If you are on a program that in a formal program partnership with Columbia (Berlin Consortium for German Studies, Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies, Columbia in Paris), review payment arrangements with your home school study abroad office.
  • Meet with your Financial Aid Officer at your home school to verify the details of your aid. Determine with them if you will need a special consortium agreement in order to transfer your financial aid to Columbia for your time abroad.
  • Clear all registration holds and make sure all outstanding balances are paid at your home school.
  • Pay the Columbia-Led deposit and program fees as instructed in your acceptance materials.
  • Plan your budget.
  • Bring an emergency fund (minimum $300) and $100 in local currency with you on the plane.
  • Plan to bring appropriate credit cards & bank cards as recommended by your program.
  • Call your bank(s) so that a notification can be put on your account that the card will be used overseas.


  • 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. Also, research how many blank pages you need in your passport prior to departure on the local consulate webpage.
  • Follow all program instructions for your visa and make sure to adhere to program deadlines.

Health & Insurance

  • Attend any orientations about safety and wellness abroad offered by your home school.
  • Discuss any mental or physical health concerns with your program adviser as soon as possible.
  • Schedule an appointment with your physician for the required program medical clearance. If recommended, schedule a visit to a travel nurse to receive information about your host country and any required inoculations.
  • If you receive accommodations through your home school's Office of Disability Services, make sure to discuss them with your program adviser and be sure to upload a letter after you have been accepted into the program.
  • Verify that your health insurance covers you throughout your stay and call your insurance company to learn about how to use your coverage while abroad, if needed.
  • 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. You may need to submit documentation to prove to your doctor and insurance company that you are abroad for an extensive period of time, so start this process as soon as you learn you are going abroad.
  • Have a physical, dental check-up, eye examination, etc.
  • Consider purchasing additional insurance for personal liability, property loss, trip cancellation, etc.


Make copies of important documents and phone numbers and keep them in a safe place. Include:

  • Passport and visa
  • Medical/immunization records
  • Credits cards and phone numbers
  • Bank account details and phone numbers
  • Insurance cards


  • Educate yourself about local customs, current events and laws. Your program adviser will likely have some location-specific instructions.
  • Get a guidebook such as Lonely Planet or Rough Guides.
  • Explore your communications options abroad: will you use a local cell phone, Facetime, Skype, etc. to stay in touch with home? Make sure you think about how you will call landlines directly so that you do not rely only on wifi or internet access. Make sure you know how to make phone calls in your host country.