Studying abroad can be an experience of a lifetime, but it does take some planning. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
It's a good idea to obtain your passport well in advance of your study abroad, especially if you also need a visa. To download a passport application or learn more about the process, visit the State Department's Passport Services web site at http://travel.state.gov/.
You also may pick up a passport application at any post office. Please note that during peak application times, it can take 10-12 weeks to receive your passport in the mail. If you need your passport quickly and are concerned about timing, there are ways to expedite the process. You can find details at http://travel.state.gov/.
Remember, your passport is the most important document you have when you are traveling outside the United States. Be sure you know where it is at all times, and keep it in a safe place. Make copies of your passport and other important items in your wallet, such as your driver's license and credit cards, before you leave for your trip. Leave one copy with someone you trust at home. Keep the other copy with you while you travel but in a separate location from your passport. This will facilitate replacement if your passport is lost or stolen.
Health and Safety
Depending on where you plan to travel, you may be required to have certain shots or vaccinations. The faculty members organizing your trip will make you aware of specific requirements, but it is a good idea to schedule an appointment with your doctor at least four to six weeks before you travel to ensure you receive all important shots.
For a good overall reference on studying abroad, including information on passports, travel insurance, money and safety, check out http://studentsabroad.state.gov/.