Preparing to Depart

What You Need to Know Before You Go!

You've been accepted and are ready to study abroad. Check out the links below to get all the information you need.

Pre-Departure Orientation

General Online Orientation

All students studying abroad at Marquette are required to complete a mandatory general online orientation. You will access the orientation through your study abroad account following being accepted to the program and must complete the modules prior to the in-person orientation. The modules cover culture, health & insurance, safety and sexual violence prevention training.

In-Person Orientation

You are also required to attend an in-person orientation. This time will be spent discussing health and safety issues and culture, and you will have the opportunity to meet the other Marquette students participating in your program. In addition, you will speak with alumni from your program and discuss the logistics you will need to know to make your study abroad experience a success.

The in-person orientation for students studying abroad during summer 2022 or fall 2022 will be held virtually.  More details are available through your MUGlobal Portal. Contact if you do not receive meeting details by the end of October 2022.

Back to Top

Travel Documents and Logistics

Before entering your host country, you will be required to obtain certain travel documents. Other documents are useful but not required.

Expand all   |   Collapse all  

Passport (Required)

All U.S. citizens must have a passport to travel outside the United States. If you plan to study abroad during your time at Marquette, we recommend applying for your passport Freshman year. Passports obtained after eighteen (18) years of age are usually valid for 10 years, so getting a passport is an investment! Passports are also required for visa application processes, which take place the semester before you go abroad. Once you've applied fo your passport, processing and delivery of your physical passport can take up to eleven (11) weeks. Plan ahead and apply early. Information about obtaining a passport can be found on the United States Department of State's website.

Visa (Required)

A visa is official permission to enter and stay in a specific country, with a specific purpose, for a specific time frame. The exact name for a visa can vary by country but may be something like: student visa, study permit, or permit to stay. A visa normally comes in the form of a sticker or stamp that is placed inside your physical passport. Often you must apply for, and obtain, your study visa in the U.S. prior to going abroad. Sometimes, you'll simply get a stamp in your passport at the airport upon arrival in your host country. Almost all countries require you to obtain a visa as part of their entry requirements.

Marquette students are responsible for obtaining their own visas. In some cases, OIE is allowed to facilitate some or all of the visa application process. In almost all cases, students will need to apply for a visa through the nearest consulate of your destination country. Country consulate offices are located in larger U.S. cities, and most countries have a consulate in Chicago. Visas can take four to six weeks for processing so, again, it's important to apply for a passport early as the visa will be adhered inside of your passport.

The visa application process can be very sensitive. Therefore, we advise you to find out well in advance which documents you will need to submit, when and how (online, in person, via regular post mail.) Each consulate sets its own regulations for visa applications. Some consulates will allow you to apply via mail, and others will require you to appear in person. We advise you to read the information and follow instructions carefully. Detailed visa information is available when you begin your study abroad application in the Passport and Visa Agreement & Consulate Info material item.

For more information, please visit the United States Department of State's website or contact your host country's consulate in the United States.

GeoBlue Worldwide Health Insurance (Required)

All Marquette students participating in study abroad will be enrolled in GeoBlue Worldwide insurance. OIE staff enroll all study abroad students in GeoBlue automatically. Students are emailed by GeoBlue shortly before the start of their program with their GeoBlue insurance card. This card will have your GeoBlue website login credentials. While it's not required to carry a physical GeoBlue insurance card abroad, we ask all students save the PDF insurance card. Students will need the website login credentials to access GeoBlue services as well as to to file a claim with GeoBlue for medical expense reimbursement.

Back to Top

Visa Information

Almost all countries require you to obtain a visa for stays longer than 90 days and sometimes even for shorter stays. A visa, often in the form of a stamp in your passport, grants you permission to enter and study in the host country.

For more information, please visit the links below or the State Department's website for general information about entry requirements for specific countries. You might also visit the website for the nearest consulate of the country in which you are studying. For example, students studying in Spain might visit the website for the Spanish Consulate in Chicago.

Remember: You must submit your passport and program acceptance letter along with your visa application and other required documents. Most consulates will not accept visa applications earlier than 90 days before your program start date and sometimes no later than 60 days before that same date.

Expand all   |   Collapse all  

Visa Workshop Schedule

Visa workshops will be held for students applying to semester programs to Spain and South Africa.

Please see your MUGlobal Portal for specific dates and times.

Back to Top

Communication and Cell Phones

Expand all   |   Collapse all  

Keeping in Touch with Home

Communication home can present some challenges while studying abroad but participants will have a variety of ways to keep in contact with their family and friends while abroad. Participants will want to explore their options and discuss it with family and friends before departure. While abroad, participants are encouraged to maintain a balance between keeping in touch with home and interacting with their host culture.

U.S. Cellphones Abroad

Before departure, students are advised to consult their cellphone provider to discuss their options and the costs related to taking a U.S. cellphone overseas. There are often additional costs and fees related to using a U.S. cellphone abroad. Students should consider all their options before bringing their U.S. cellphone abroad.

Getting a Cellphone Abroad

A very affordable option is to rent or buy a pay-as-you-go or prepaid phone in your host country. This is a very common practice in many study abroad programs, especially semester or yearlong study abroad programs. This option can ease communication with other students and local contacts abroad.

Alternatives to Cell Phones

There are many alternatives to calling and texting over the internet that are often free and easy.

  • Email
  • Phone Cards
  • Social Media
  • Blogging
  • Video Calling – Skype, Google Hangouts, FaceTime, etc.
  • Instant Messaging Apps – Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber, etc.

Being Present While Abroad

Study abroad can be a time of learning, growing, and fun, which will likely be filled with making new friends, attending social events, trying new food, and exploration of cultural and historical sites.

We experience so much during this time abroad, our first instinct is often to immediately “share” our experiences – be it via social media or elsewhere. While it’s important to document your time and capture these memories, it can also be extremely helpful to disconnect and be present during your study abroad program. This does not mean you should stop taking photos altogether or close your Twitter account, but remind yourself that by managing your “connectedness” you can become more aware of the amazing things happening all around you and more readily able to engage in this new culture.

Back to Top


Expand all   |   Collapse all  

Meet with Financial Aid

Marquette students should meet with an advisor in MU Central (Zilber Hall) to better understand their personal financial aid package and how it may apply to a specific study abroad program.

Cost of Living Abroad

The cost of living in your host country will likely be different than here in Milwaukee. This means you will pay more or less for similar products and services relative to what you usually pay at home.

It important for you to budget appropriately for daily items such as food, clothes, and local travel. You will also be using a different form of currency in your host country. Becoming familiar with currency conversion rates will help you understand how much you are paying for things and allow you to build a more accurate long-term budget. Currency conversion knowledge will be especially important during your first few weeks abroad. Most students find their first month’s expenses are higher due to costs of “settling in”.

A good resource for currency conversion is the currency converterCheck out the slides from our 'Budgeting While Abroad' presentation!

Notify Your Bank

You must notify your bank of your plans to travel abroad before you depart. You should provide your bank with your travel dates and all country destinations. You should also notify your bank of any travel arrangements made after you are abroad, to places other than your host country.

Don’t forget to:

  • Ask about ATM withdrawal fees abroad. These are normally per-withdrawal-fees. Some banks are now offerings lower (or zero) fees for international ATM withdrawals. Exact fees will vary from bank to bank.
  • Ask about international percentage fees that will apply to any card purchases made while abroad.

Debit and Credit Cards

In general, debit and credit cards are by far the most common means of spending and/or accessing money while abroad – either by direct payment or by withdrawing money from a cash machine.

It is recommended to have a second debit or credit card with you abroad. This will give you a “back-up” means of accessing funds. In case of emergencies, or if something happens to your primary card, it can take weeks to replace your card and to have someone mail it from home.

Much of Europe (as well as some other countries) has started implementing a chip-and-PIN system, using debit and credit cards that are embedded with a microchip and also require a Personal Identification Number (PIN code) to complete transactions. Most U.S. cards have not, historically, had this chip. Be aware that the magnetic-stripe credit cards won't be accepted at some automated chip-and-PIN payment locations.

In that case, this means you will need to find alternate means of payment – e.g. cash is always accepted, or obtaining a card with a chip (in the U.S.) prior to departure. Many larger domestic banks are moving to the chip-and-PIN system though you will need to inquire about availability.

Paying for Program Expenses Prior to Departure

You may have program expenses (e.g. housing, meal plans, or program fees) that are required to be paid the semester before your program begins. These payments are often made directly to your program by credit card or bank transfer. You will need to personally coordinate with your bank to make any required, program-related international payments prior to your departure.

Back to Top


Students planning to study abroad for a semester should also consider how housing agreements or leases already signed for accommodations in Milwaukee may be affected. For more information, please contact the Office of Residential Life.

Expand all   |   Collapse all  

Residence Halls

Students with an on-campus Residence Hall contract should submit a request for release or exemption from the university residence requirement and housing agreement during the semester they are abroad.

University-owned apartments

  • Flexible lease options are available.
  • Students who have already signed a lease may consider subletting a university owned apartment during their time abroad.
  • Students living in University-owned apartments will be held to previously signed lease agreements.
  • Students who have not yet signed a lease may want to consider a furnished apartment for the semester they will be living in Milwaukee, to prevent the need to store furniture while abroad.

Off-campus apartments

  • Students are responsible for contacting their landlord to discuss flexible lease or subletting options.
  • Students will likely be held to previously signed lease agreements.


Back to Top

Online Resources

  • Time zone
    Check what time it is in your host country.

Discounted Travel

These are among the many sites that offer reduced travel opportunities for students and international travelers:

  • Student Universe
    (Discounted flights, rail passes, hostels and more)
  • Hostel World
    (Find and book a hostel anywhere in the world.)
  • STA Travel
    (Everything you need as a student traveler, from discounted flights to backpacks)
    (Good comparison website for discounted airfare, hostels, Eurail passes and more)
  • Ryanair
  • Let's Go
    (Expert resources and detailed guides for traveling anywhere in the world)

Back to Top