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A Division of the International Studies Office

Preparing for the Experience

Congratulations on your decision to study abroad! This will inevitably be one of the most exciting times in your life as a student. Study abroad is a time filled with learning, observing, practicing new skills, making new relationships, some adventure, and quiet moments of personal development. The ISO has made the following resources available to help support you on your journey.

Education Abroad Handbook

This guide should help you explore issues such as credit transfer, passport and visa applications, culture shock and encourage you to do some preparation for living in the area of the world in which you will be a guest. This handbook is not a substitute for your own research about your host country.

Pre-Departure Orientation

The International Studies Office Pre-Departure Orientation (PDO) is designed to address cultural, academic, and logistical preparation.

Students participating on a UVA program should consult their post-acceptance instructions in their application for details of their in-person session. Participation is required.

Students participating on Exchange or Outside programs will find online modules covering these topics in the Learning Content section of their application. Completion of these modules is required.

Additional Resources

U.S. Department of State Country-Specific Information: The U.S. government’s information page on every country around the world. Includes details on entry/exit requirements, advice for American travelers, U.S. embassy contact information, etc.

FBI Student Brochure: Safety and Security for U.S. Students Traveling Abroad.

What's Up with Culture: This material was developed to support and enhance a student’s ability to make successful cultural adjustments both before going overseas and upon returning home from studying abroad.

Portals to the World: A resource from the Library of Congress that provides authoritative, in-depth information about various nations and areas of the world. Selections are hand-picked by Area Specialists, so they do the vetting for you and you can go straight to valuable resources online.


We challenge you to be good will ambassadors and actively participate in improving international relations whether in the classroom or on a train, in a restaurant or with new friends. Take every opportunity to open your mind to new experiences, customs and people. Remember that you are a guest in another country, thus the utmost respect and appreciation should be evident.