Preparing for Departure

Congratulations on your decision to study abroad! Now it's time to get ready for takeoff. Read on for important information on everything from health and safety, visas, finances, and more. And get ready for the experience of a lifetime.

Pre-Departure Information

  • Obtain a valid passport if you don't already have one
  • Receive notification of acceptance from Suffolk University
  • Receive notification of acceptance from host university (Suffolk Madrid students will only receive one acceptance)
  • Pay any program or housing deposits, if required
  • Attend relevant workshops through the study abroad office such as coffee and cookie hours, financial workshops, and Spanish student visa workshops
  • Investigate your options for overseas health insurance coverage
  • Check the visa requirements for the country where you will be studying
  • Gather documents and apply for a student visa if you need to obtain one
  • Complete any housing forms by the designated program deadlines
  • Register for courses/Be registered for courses

    Suffolk Madrid students, register on MySuffolk at an assigned date and time
    All other students will be placed into placeholder courses. Do not drop these courses and do not register for courses in Boston. This will be taken care of for you.
  • Purchase a plane ticket (only after official acceptance)
  • Attend the Suffolk University mandatory pre-departure orientation
  • Create an account with the U.S. Department of State STEP Program and check back for updates on our new international travel assistance provider
  • Pick up your student visa
  • Contact your doctor about any medical concerns, questions about vaccinations, and help with obtaining any prescriptions in advance
  • Notify your bank and credit card companies that you will be out of the country for a period of time
  • Start packing!

Most Suffolk University study abroad programs require you to obtain a student visa prior to your departure. Visa regulations vary by country and by each student's country of citizenship. Here are some things to keep in mind when applying for a visa:

  • Be proactive. It's your responsibility to obtain your student visa. The study abroad office and your specific study abroad program can provide some basic visa advice to you, but we can't apply for the visa for you or contact the consulate on your behalf.
  • Check the website. After you are accepted to your study abroad program, visit the website of the nearest consulate of the country where you plan to study. Pay attention to which documents are required for your visa application and the consulate's estimate of how long it will take to process the visa.
  • Make sure you have a valid passport. Most countries require that your passport be valid for a certain period of time after the end date of your program. Check the consulate's website to be sure. Also, a good guideline is to make sure your passport is valid for six months after your program's end date.
  • Pay attention to details! Consulates reserve the right to deny an application. To better your chances of obtaining your visa, pay careful attention to the list of required documents and follow any directions exactly as they are stated. The most common reason for a denial of a visa is missing or incorrect documentation. Always be courteous and respectful to the consular officers.
  • Don't procrastinate. Do not wait until the last minute to apply for your visa. Processing times vary by country, and some require an application no later than 120 days before the start of your program. There generally is no way to expedite visa processing times, so apply early. Consulates will not make exceptions to their rules.


Students who study abroad and wish to receive credit toward their degree will pay Suffolk University the full cost of tuition. Tuition for Suffolk Madrid is paid directly to the Madrid campus. Students participating in all other programs will pay tuition to Suffolk University's Boston campus.

Room and board costs are not included in the tuition for the program. This additional cost varies by program. Make your payment for room and board directly to the program or host institution. To find out the cost of room and board for your program, please contact our office. In addition, any courses you take with specific course-related fees are not covered by your Suffolk tuition payment and will be billed to you (the student) by the program.

Some students' financial aid package may cover the cost of their studies abroad. To learn more, please contact your financial aid counselor.

Personal Expenses

When estimating your budget outside of Suffolk University tuition and program room and board fees, consider two categories: your pre-departure expenses and post-arrival expenses.

  • Pre-departure costs may include, but are not limited to, passport fees, consular fees for a visa, airfare, local transportation, independent travel expenses (e.g. Eurail passes), luggage/backpack, and appropriate clothing. Students usually spend more money during the first few weeks while adjusting to their new surroundings. Take your own spending habits and lifestyle into account when estimating your expense budgets.
  • Consider the following expenses when estimating your budgets while abroad: weekend travel, local transportation, daily meals and dining out, entertainment, museum fees, laundry, postage, telephone costs, books, photocopying, Internet cafes, and personal items.
  • Note: ATMs overseas charge higher fees than domestic providers. Please contact your bank to verify overseas charges and special procedures such as international PIN numbers. Also, it's wise to arrange account access for a family member in the U.S. just in case you encounter any account issues abroad.


In order to make the most of your time abroad, make sure you stay healthy! Make a doctor's appointment before you leave so you can talk to your doctor about where you'll be traveling to and any specific health concerns. This is a good opportunity to discuss how you might obtain prescription medications while abroad and whether or not you need any vaccinations before you go. Often, a doctor's note is required as part of a student visa application as well. Make sure you look into this before your appointment and bring any forms that may need to be signed.

You should decide whether you'll buy prescription medication abroad or bring enough with you to last your entire program. Please note that medicines and vitamins cannot be mailed internationally; they will be held up in customs. Medicines should be stored in a drugstore bottle with a label showing the drug's name, generic name, dosage, and instructions for use.

Emotional Well-Being

Even under ideal conditions, adjusting to life in a different culture can be stressful. On occasion, this stress may trigger or aggravate more serious emotional conditions. Adjusting to another culture is higher risk for a student who is currently being treated for depression/anxiety, an eating disorder, or any other serious medical or mental health condition. In these cases, study abroad should be postponed or planned very carefully in conjunction with our staff and other healthcare professionals.

Typical reactions to cultural transitions may include homesickness, boredom or fatigue, physical complaints, feelings of depression or helplessness, and/or hostility toward the host culture. These reactions are usually short-lived, however, when students are encouraged to test new problem-solving methods that help them feel more comfortable in a new culture.

Above all, trust your instincts. If, after an initial transition period of two or three weeks, you are experiencing unusual or prolonged distress, you should consult with counseling services overseas and contact our office for additional resources.


Petty larceny is an issue for all travelers. Pickpockets in popular tourist destinations often single out foreigners as easy targets. We recommend body pouches as the safest way to carry passports and currency. While studying abroad (in any city), keeping your residence doors and windows locked at all times is also a necessary safety precaution.

Make copies of all important documents (including the first page of your passport; student visa, and credit, ATM, and insurance cards) and:

  • Leave one set at home with a family member
  • Keep one set in a separate location while traveling independently (e.g. in your backpack or luggage).

Health & Safety Resources

Excellent, comprehensive information on safe travel is available through the State Department's website. The U.S. State Department posts current travel warnings, public announcements, and consular information sheets for any country on this website. We recommend that all students read this information and do personal research on safety in the country where they'll be studying abroad.

Additional Resources
U.S. State Department: Travel Tips for Students
Consular Affairs Publications: Your Trip Abroad, A Safe Trip Abroad, Tips for Americans Residing Abroad

Travel Insurance

Travel expenses (including airplane tickets and other means of travel) are not paid to Suffolk, nor is Suffolk responsible for paying these fees. Purchasing travel insurance will protect you if you must cancel or suspend your study abroad plans due to a travel warning from the United States Department of State advising U.S. citizens not to travel to a particular country or, if in the country, to leave. Please contact your travel provider for more details.

Travel Accident and Sickness Policy

Suffolk partners with Crisis24, AXA and Cultural Insurance Services International to provide anyone on University-related travel with access to immediate support should they experience challenges while traveling outside the United States. This global travel assistance program includes an international travel accident and sickness policy that covers all faculty, staff and students on University-sponsored international travel. Please visit the International Travel page to learn more about Suffolk University’s global travel assistance program.

Partner Universities and Study Abroad Programs

During the study abroad application process, you will meet with an academic advisor to have your courses approved. We recommend researching courses offered at the study abroad institution that are both interesting to you and meet some of your requirements at Suffolk. When you go to your meeting at the Undergraduate Academic Advising Center, you should come prepared with course descriptions and schedules.

Once you have been approved to study abroad, you will be registered for placeholder courses at Suffolk University, as determined by your advisor. The courses you take at a partner university will appear as transfer credits on your transcript as long as you receive a passing grade in them. In order to pass a course, you need to receive a letter grade of C or higher. Your GPA will be unaffected by your semester abroad.

Suffolk University Madrid Campus

IF you're studying at Suffolk Madrid, you will also have your courses pre-approved by the Undergraduate Academic Advising Center during the application process. You will then register online at your assigned registration date and time for the classes you selected (using the same MySuffolk process you use to register for courses at our Boston campus). You must take at least 12 credits to maintain your status as a student for visa purposes.

You'll receive credits and letter grades for your Suffolk Madrid courses that will be reflected on your transcript and factor into your GPA.

Suffolk partners with Crisis24, AXA and Cultural Insurance Services International to provide anyone on University-related travel with access to immediate support should they experience challenges while traveling outside the United States.

If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, contact the local emergency services in your location. Local emergency service contact information can be found in the Crisis24 Horizon mobile app. For non-life-threatening travel, medical or security needs contact Crisis24 at +1 857-343-8107 or at [email protected].

Please visit the International Travel page to learn more about Suffolk University’s global travel assistance program.

Suffolk University has the right to expect that students, as members of the academic community, will conduct themselves in a manner which is consistent with the educational mission of freedom to learn and that they will respect the rights of their fellow citizens. Any departure from these standards that can be shown to be injurious to the program’s pursuit of its normal activities may be subject to appropriate disciplinary actions, which could include dismissal from the program.

The study abroad regulations are in accordance with the Suffolk University Student Handbook.