Congratulations on your decision to study abroad! Here you will find general information that you will need before you leave, while you're abroad, and upon return.

Pre-Departure Information

ArtCenter policies exist primarily for the protection and safety of study away participants. We expect all participants to read, understand, and adhere to ArtCenter policies, guidelines, and contractual documents whether on campus or away. ArtCenter reserves the right to add, modify, or remove a policy at any time.


As a study away program participant, you will be required to sign the Student Conditions of Participation in International or Domestic Off-Campus Program agreement form that states you understand and agree to the policies and conditions of participating in an ArtCenter study away program.

Students participating in an ArtCenter study away program to a country with a U.S. State Department Travel Advisory are required to complete and submit the Acknowledgement of Risk and Release for Travel Advisory Countries Waiver in addition to the Student Conditions of Participation In International or Domestic Off-Campus Program agreement. (Travel Advisories can include but are not limited to advisory statements, recommendations, or restrictions based on social or political conditions, public health outbreaks, extreme weather hazards, etc.) By signing this waiver, students acknowledge that they have read the Travel Advisory, understand its content, and accept full responsibility for their decision to participate. Students will not be permitted to participate in the travel program if the waiver is not completed and submitted. (See also Program Cancellation policy.)


Registration Process and Timeline

Once you have been accepted into a study away program, whether a 3-unit course or 12-18 unit full-term program, you will be given access to register for the restricted course(s) at your normally scheduled registration appointment time. You must clear any holds on your account before you can register. Neither the Registrar nor the Exchange and Study Away office are responsible for following up on delayed registrations due to holds.

If you are participating in one of our Exchange Student Programs, you will register for 12-units worth of placeholder courses, identified for you, for the term you will be away. Once ArtCenter receives your transcript from the exchange partner school, the appropriate course credit will be applied. It is your responsibility to ensure that your transcript is received by Enrollment Services. It is important that you complete the Study Abroad Exchange Credit Approval form with your Department Chair and/or Director of Humanities and Sciences before you depart so that you have confirmation of the credit you will be receiving.

Academic Standing
Students must remain in good academic standing during the term prior to their study abroad experience. Students not in good academic standing may be disqualified from participation. Students on academic probation or suspension may not participate in study abroad.


Should a student decide to cancel enrollment in any study away program for which he or she applied and been accepted to, the student must immediately notify in writing the Exchange and Study Away office. ArtCenter is not responsible for indirect costs paid directly by the student, including, but not limited to, passport and visa fees, vaccinations, insurance, housing, and transportation costs.

It is the student’s responsibility to complete a Leave of Absence form (if all courses are being dropped) or a Course Drop form (if only the study away course(s) is being dropped) to submit to Enrollment Services as necessary for the term. The date of withdrawal shall be the date of receipt of the appropriate forms by Enrollment Services. The student is required to follow existing ArtCenter policies for Leave of Absence and Course Drop.

Withdrawal Prior to the Start of the Program
Prior to the start of the program, the student is eligible for a full refund of tuition. Any non-recoverable expenses that have been incurred by ArtCenter on behalf of the student once the student has made a commitment to the program (in writing and/or by submitting a program deposit) will be the responsibility of the student, including but limited to housing, excursions, and program provider fees, and charged to the student account. If any student stipends were received, the stipend check must be returned to ArtCenter. If the stipend check has already been deposited by the student, then the student’s account will be charged for the stipend amount.

Withdrawal After the Start of the Program
If a student withdraws from a study away program during the first five weeks of the program, he or she is eligible for a refund of ArtCenter tuition payments based on the College’s Tuition Forgiveness Policy.

Withdrawal Tuition Forgiveness
Prior to start of program 100%
Week 1 100% with a $500 late withdrawal fee
Week 2 80%
Week 3 60%
Week 4 40%
Week 5 20%
Week 6 or later 0%

If an on-site or study away course is scheduled in its entirety during the break period, the course is considered to be completed and credit units are granted towards the total scheduled load of the following term. If during the time of the course a student chooses to withdraw for any reason, tuition forgiveness for the remainder of the course will be prorated accordingly. To align with the above Tuition Forgiveness Policy for a full 14-week term, students will not be eligible for tuition forgiveness after 43 percent of the course has been completed.

Withdrawal Due to Medical Reasons
Students who experience a medical emergency may be granted an immediate withdrawal from the study away course following consultation between the faculty team leader, the Director of Exchange and Study Away, and the Associate Provost for Student Affairs. Immediate arrangements will be made for care of the student with the assistance of the College’s international medical insurance program as necessary. Any refund of tuition and expenses will be subject to the College’s Medical and Psychological Leave Policy as follows:

Students who encounter unplanned medical issues once the term (or study abroad experience) has begun may request a Leave of Absence (LOA) due to a medical condition (medical leave). While any student may take an LOA from ArtCenter at anytime, a medical leave indicates a sudden and unexpected medical condition that prohibits the student from completing all classes in a term and from taking Incompletes. In these cases, some adjustments may be made to the student’s billing and financial aid based on the date that the Leave of Absence form was received by Enrollment Services and the additional completed documentation was received. Medical leaves are not granted routinely. They are granted only after careful evaluation of each individual’s situation and documentation.

Documentation for the medical condition must meet the following standards:

  1. Communication from a treating physician on letterhead (not a prescription form) with the full name of the patient/student, a full description of the illness and treatment, and an indication of the limitations in function due to the illness or the treatment.
  2. The treating physician must be a medical doctor (MD), clinical psychologist (PhD) or licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). The treating physician or counselor may not be a relative of the patient/student, nor can he or she be employed by ArtCenter.

The student requesting a medical leave must also give permission for the Associate Provost for Student Affairs (or designee) to contact the treating physician or counselor to discuss the case, or to verify the diagnosis or treatment.

To qualify for medical leave, students must show that their condition or course of treatment renders them incapable of coming to campus, attending any and all classes, and completing assignments. Examples may include but are not limited to: catastrophic accidents or severe illnesses in which the student must be confined to bed rest for several weeks, admission into an inpatient treatment facility for several weeks, daily medical or psychological therapy for several weeks, or a temporary disability that renders the student physically unable to work on projects in a substantive manner. Missing a few days of classes, generally falling behind due to other issues and other such reasons do not constitute grounds for a medical leave.

Before a student can return to campus, he or she must provide the Associate Provost for Student Affairs (or designee) with a letter on letterhead from the treating physician or counselor certifying that the student is well enough to return to the rigors and stresses of an ArtCenter curriculum. The Associate Provost for Student Affairs (or designee) may request that the student check in once or twice during the course of the term as a condition of enrollment.

Students may be on medical leave for three consecutive terms and return without seeking re-entry or readmission; those on leave for more than three terms will need to go through the re-entry process. Students who have not attended for two or more years must go through the readmission process. Unless otherwise specified, students returning from medical leave are subject to the same deadlines, standards and requirements as other ArtCenter students.

Program Dismissal
A student who is suspended, dismissed, or withdraws while under investigation for violation of the Student Code of Conduct will not have tuition payments refunded.

Program Cancellation Policy
Student safety is of critical importance. The College reserves the right to cancel any exchange or study away program in a location that is considered unsafe by the Study Away Emergency Response Team (SAERT) or for which the U.S. Department of State has issued a Travel Warning. SAERT regularly reviews information provided by the U.S. Department of State and monitors other sources, such as announcements from the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), for information about the countries where ArtCenter students are or will be studying.

Should a program cancellation become necessary for safety reasons, an emergency, or for reasons beyond the College’s control prior to student departure, every effort will be made to refund recoverable costs to participants. The time of program cancellation will determine the actual recoverable costs. The closer the program is to the start date, the less recoverable costs will be available. The Exchange and Study Away office will make its best efforts to notify students of a potential program cancellation as soon as it is known so that other academic options may be considered as a back up.

Should a program cancellation become necessary for safety reasons, an emergency, or for reasons beyond the College’s control, after students have arrived overseas, our refund policy is that every effort will be made to refund recoverable costs to the participants. Additionally, the Exchange and Study Away office and academic departments will make every effort to help students complete the academic work from the program and, depending on the circumstances, possibly earn the intended academic credit from the program. Whether or not this is possible depends largely on the particular program, the circumstances of the academic work of the program, and the length of time remaining in the program after the official cancellation date.

Unrecoverable program expenses including, but not limited to, passport and visa fees, vaccinations, housing fees, or airline costs, paid for directly by the student cannot be refunded.

Because full refunds are often not possible, students should consider purchasing trip cancellation insurance that can be obtained through many travel agents or insurance companies. When researching policies, it is important to carefully weigh the cost of the insurance against the value of travel expenses. Policies vary on what triggers trip cancellation, so students should check with travel insurance providers for more details.

The Financial Aid office will review program cancellations on a case-by-case basis for students who are receiving financial aid.

Guests Prohibited on Study Away Programs

To maintain the academic, cultural, and logistical integrity of any study program, students are prohibited from inviting any guests to participate on an Art Center faculty-led study away program, including staying overnight in program accommodations, whether paying or not. If participating in an exchange program, guest privileges are subject to the partner institution’s policies (e.g., residence hall policies).

Travel Advisory Policy

Students participating in an Art Center study away program to a country on the U.S. State Department Travel Advisory lists are required to complete and submit the Acknowledgement of Risk and Release for Travel Advisory Countries Waiver in addition to the Student Conditions of Participation In International or Domestic Off Campus Program agreement. (Travel Advisories can include but are not limited to advisory statements and recommendations or restrictions based on social or political conditions, public health outbreaks, extreme weather hazards, etc.) By signing this waiver, students acknowledge that they have read the Travel Advisory, understand its content, and accept full responsibility for their decision to participate. Students will not be permitted to participate in the travel program if the waiver is not completed and submitted. See also Program Cancellation policy.

Program Housing

Students are required to live in established program housing when it is provided by the College or host institution. The College finds housing partners and accommodations with consideration for cost, health, safety, security, and educational needs of the students and specific study away program.

Housing information will be solicited from students prior to departure; however, we cannot guarantee individual requests and preferences. If a student has a disability that requires specific accommodations, the disability needs to be filed as soon as possible, upon notification of acceptance, directly with the Center for the Student Experience in order for these arrangements to be made. (See also Student with Disabilities section.)

Should a housing conflict arise, we encourage students to bring it to the attention of the faculty leader and/or the Exchange and Study Away office so we may assist in resolving it. If the conflict involves a violation of the Student Code of Conduct or other College policies, then additional school officials will be called upon to address the conflict as appropriate, following campus procedures.

Students will be responsible for housing damages, lost keys, and any other fees incurred during their stay. The Exchange and Study Away office will notify students of these additional charges that will be applied to the student’s account.

If a study away program does not provide housing, the student will accept all associated risks, be solely responsible for all expenses and arrangements related to housing, and be required to provide the Exchange and Study Away Office with the address and contact information of where they will be residing.

Transportation Policy

Traffic-related accidents are the leading cause of student injuries and deaths while abroad. Students are prohibited from driving motor vehicles (including but not limited to scooters, motorbikes, motorcycles, and cars) while participating in an Art Center Study Away Program outside of the U.S. unless they possess a valid driver’s license and driver’s insurance in the host country. Students should obey all local vehicle and pedestrian laws and use public transit wherever that option exists and is safe. A student’s personal liability coverage takes precedence over Art Center liability coverage should a motor vehicle be used.

Exceptions to this policy may be considered for the content of the program curriculum, associated field trips, and supervised projects. All such considerations must be discussed with the academic department and Exchange and Study Away office in advance.

Student Code of Conduct

ArtCenter regards all students as responsible citizens who have the same obligations as other citizens to observe the laws of the United States and the local and national laws of the host country. The College does not regard itself or its members as above the law in any way. In addition, as members of an academic community, students assume rights and responsibilities inherent to the nature of that community and bear a responsibility to preserve a collegiate environment that encourages the maximum develop­ment of students.

Students who participate in an ArtCenter study away program are enrolled at ArtCenter and are subject to the provisions of the Student Code of Conduct to the same extent they would be if studying on campus. Any student who engages in conduct that violates the Student Code of Conduct will be subject to review and sanctions, including, where appropriate, dismissal from the program. This will be done in consultation with the appropriate departments/offices and prior violations will be considered.

All students have the right to learn in an atmosphere that is supportive and encouraging. Students should feel free to express their views but may not do so by infringing upon the rights of others. Students who feel that their rights have been violated have the right to have the matter reviewed through the Student Code of Conduct. The College also holds inherent authority and reserves the right to bring charges against students in this process.  The Center for the Student Experience coordinates, implements and responds to questions about the Student Code of Conduct.

Prohibited Conduct
Prohibited conduct includes but is not limited to the following:

1. Plagiarizing the idea, language or image of another person in part or in whole, including the improper citation of source documents or lack of correct acknowledgment of authorship. Please see the Academic and Creative Integrity Policy in the Student Handbook for more information.

2. Violations of federal, state and local laws, and violations of ArtCenter policies, including but not limited to the Alcohol and Illegal Drugs Policy, Policy Against Harassment, Discrimination, Harassment and Title IX Policy, Weapons Policy, Appropriate Use Policy for Information Technology Resources and Parking Policy.

3. Intentionally or recklessly causing physical or psychological harm to any ArtCenter community member, yourself or to any person on College premises or at College activities either on or off campus, or causing reasonable apprehension of such harm. This includes, without limitation: computer, telephone, social, racial and sexual harassment or assault; verbal or written threats; stalking; intimidation; and verbal and physical abuse or harassment.

4. Intentionally or recklessly interfering with normal College or College-sponsored activities, including but not limited to studying; teaching; research; College administration; judicial proceedings; or fire, police or emergency services.

5. Failure to comply with the directions of College officials acting in performance of their duties, including but not limited to staff, faculty and campus safety officers. This includes verbally threatening, abusing or harassing any of the above in the performance of his or her duties.

6. Intentionally or recklessly destroying, defacing or damaging College property or the property of others on College premises or at College-sponsored activities.

7. Intentionally and substantially interfering with the freedom of expression of others on College premises or at College-sponsored activities.

8. Intentionally furnishing false information to any designated College official and to the College or failure to carry and/or provide valid ArtCenter photo identification.

9. Intentionally initiating, or causing to be initiated, any false report, warning or threat at College-sponsored activities.

10. Theft of property or services on College premises or at College-sponsored activities, or knowingly possessing stolen property.

11. Unauthorized use, possession or distribution of alcohol on College premises. Please see the Alcohol and Illegal Drugs Policy in the Student Handbook for more information.

12. Use, possession or actions under the influence of any controlled substance, alcohol, illegal drug or drug-related materials.

13. Unauthorized distribution or possession for purposes of distribution of any controlled substance, illegal drug or paraphernalia.

14. Engaging in disorderly conduct, public intoxication or lewd, indecent or obscene behavior.

15. Unauthorized use, possession or storage of any weapon on College premises or at College-sponsored activities.

16. Intentionally or recklessly misusing, disabling, tampering with or damaging fire safety equipment, doors and signs.

17. Unauthorized use or possession of fireworks and/or other incendiary materials on College premises or at College-sponsored activities.

18. Unauthorized use, forgery or unauthorized alteration of any College document or instrument of identification.

19. Unauthorized presence in or use of College premises, facilities or property.

20. Any behavior that disrupts or causes disruption of computer services; damages, alters or destroys data or records; or adversely affects computer software, programs, systems or networks. This may include the intentional introduction of any computer contaminant into the computer system.

21. The use of data, computer systems or networks to devise or execute any scheme to defraud, deceive or extort or wrongfully obtain money, property or data. Unauthorized use of computer files or unauthorized access to restricted network systems or computer files.

22. Reckless driving of a four- or two-wheel vehicle on or off-campus, or the abuse of campus parking rules and regulations.

23. Violating the terms of any disciplinary sanction imposed in accordance with this Code.

Study Away Disciplinary Procedure
Given the nature and function of study away programs, student-participant adherence to policies, procedures, and directives is crucial. The paragraphs below set out the student-conduct process for resolving alleged violations of program and ArtCenter policies, procedures, and guidelines by study away participants.

Should there be an allegation of a violation of policy, etc., faculty leaders of ArtCenter study away programs may conduct investigations and hold administrative hearings for conduct matters that occur abroad.  Faculty leaders may consult with the Director of Exchange and Study Away and the Associate Provost for Student Affairs (or designee) throughout the process. At the discretion of the Associate Provost for Student Affairs (or designee) and in consultation with the faculty leader, the Associate Provost for Student Affairs (or designee) may assume jurisdiction for, and render a decision on, any cases involving students studying off-campus.

The faculty leader will be responsible to interview and/or receive statements from all witnesses, and will present the accused with charges, which are to include the specific regulation or policy allegedly violated. At the administrative hearing between the faculty leader and the accused student, the accused may testify personally and present witnesses on his or her behalf.

The accused may present testimony and make arguments not only with regard to the offense, but also with regard to justification or mitigating circumstances. The accused may also speak to the question of the appropriateness of any particular sanction that he or she may incur.

After hearing the case, the faculty leader will make a decision on sanctions. He or she may consult with the Assistant Dean of Students (or designee) prior to making a decision if the faculty leader deems it necessary. If the accused is found guilty of a violation of applicable policies, regulations, etc., the decision will specify the violating behavior and the policy or regulation violated, and the sanction to be imposed. The faculty leader will promptly present the sanctions imposed to the accused and the decision will take effect immediately. The decisions of the ArtCenter faculty leader will be based on evidence presented and statements taken. Due to the logistical challenges presented by conducting investigations at some distance from campus, decisions made by faculty leaders in disciplinary cases conducted for students in study abroad programs are final.

The Center for the Student Experience holds concurrent jurisdiction and may take further action based on the College’s Student Code of Conduct upon the student’s return to the College.

Interim Suspensions

1. In certain circumstances, the Assistant Dean of Students (or designee) may impose a suspension of privileges to further participate in the Study Away program prior to a hearing following consultation with the faculty leader. Such an interim suspension may be imposed only:

a) To ensure the safety and well-being of other members of the study away group or the preservation of ArtCenter property;
b) To ensure the student’s own physical or emotional safety; or
c) If the student poses an ongoing threat of disruption of, or interference with, the normal operations of the study away group.

2. During the interim suspension, the student shall be denied access to participation in the study away course and associated activities and privileges for which the student might otherwise be eligible, as the Assistant Dean of Students (or designee) may determine to be necessary or appropriate.

3. The interim suspension does not replace the regular disciplinary process, which shall proceed expeditiously.

Sanctions for violation of the Student Code of Conduct or other rules or policies enforceable under the Code vary depending on the cir­cumstances. Sanctions may include, but are not limited to, warning, suspension from program related activities, removal from housing, dismissal from program, disciplinary action on ArtCenter record, denial of participation on future education abroad opportunities, and suspension from the College.

Prohibition of Sexual Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, and Stalking

ArtCenter College of Design (“ArtCenter”) is committed to maintaining an inclusive community that values diversity and fosters tolerance and mutual respect. All students have the right to participate fully in ArtCenter programs and activities free from discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.

ArtCenter prohibits discrimination, retaliation, and harassment of any kind, including sexual harassment, as well as sexual misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking. Such behavior violates the College’s Discrimination, Harassment, and Title IX Policy (“Policy”) and may also violate other state, federal, or foreign laws. This Policy is issued in response to the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (the SaVE Act) and related guidance from the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, addressing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

All sexual activity between members of the ArtCenter community must be based on Affirmative Consent. Engaging in any sexual activity without first obtaining Affirmative Consent to the specific sexual activity is sexual misconduct and constitutes a violation of this Policy, whether or not the sexual activity violates any civil or criminal law. Under this Policy, “No” always means “No,” and “Yes” may not always mean “Yes.” Anything but a clear, knowing, and voluntary consent to any sexual activity is equivalent to a “No.”

If sexual misconduct, dating violence, or domestic violence has happened to you, immediately contact your travel insurance provider, Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI), to locate the closest hospital for medical treatment.

Procedures for Filing Complaints

Students are strongly encouraged to report any incident of sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking with your faculty leader who will contact the College’s student conduct officials, Kendra Stanifer, Assistant Dean of Students,, (626) 396-2396, or Ray Quirolgico, Associate Provost for Student Affairs/Dean of Students,, (626) 396-2325, to begin an investigation.

It is also advised that the student file a report with local law enforcement and to preserve evidence that may be necessary as proof of sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking.  Students should contact CISI to receive advice on in-country police reporting, especially in countries that may not have laws to prevent sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking.

Alcohol and Other Drug Policy
ArtCenter does not encourage the use of alcohol or condone drinking patterns or behaviors that are detrimental to the health and welfare of the individual, the ArtCenter community, or the community at large. Alcohol may be consumed, but not abused, by students who are of legal age in their host countries. Students who choose to consume alcohol do so with the knowledge that they remain responsible for their actions at all times. ArtCenter prohibits the use of alcohol that is illegal in the host country and prohibits the distribution of alcohol to students who are not of legal drinking age in their host countries. ArtCenter will impose serious sanctions against any student who commits an alcohol infraction, including drunkenness or any abuse of alcohol.

ArtCenter study away programs have a zero tolerance policy for purchase, possession, use, or distribution of any drugs considered to be illicit or illegal. Any violations will be grounds for dismissal. Students are further cau­tioned that the possession of drugs is often dealt with harshly by local, host-country law enforcement and neither the College nor the U.S. Embassy can obtain release from jail.

The use of illegal drugs and the abuse of alcohol are seriously detrimental to one’s health and well-being. ArtCenter urges students involved with either to obtain the necessary assistance from medical professionals and counselors. Please contact the Center for the Student Experience for referrals priors to departure or utilize CISI to locate treatment and assistance locations at the program site.


Traffic-related accidents are the leading cause of student injuries and deaths while abroad. Students are prohibited from driving motor vehicles (including but not limited to scooters, motorbikes, motorcycles, and cars) while participating in an ArtCenter Study Away Program outside of the U.S. unless they possess a valid driver’s license and driver’s insurance in the host country. Students should obey all local vehicle and pedestrian laws and use public transit wherever that option exists and is safe. A student’s personal liability coverage takes precedence over ArtCenter liability coverage should a motor vehicle be used.

Exceptions to this policy may be considered for the content of the program curriculum, associated field trips, and supervised projects. All such considerations must be discussed with the academic department and Exchange and Study Away office in advance.

ArtCenter Program Deposit

Upon confirmation of your participation in an ArtCenter exchange or study away program, you will be required to pay a $200 deposit by a specified deadline, typically within a week or two of acceptance notification. This deposit is non-refundable and is used to secure your place in the program. Depending on the particular program that you are participating in, the deposit may be applied to one or more of the following program costs: housing, health/travel insurance, field trips, flights, or program provider services. Your deposit will go directly to covering these costs once the program begins. If there are no additional fees for your study away program, then the deposit will go toward your tuition for the term. If your study abroad program is a requirement of your degree program, you will not be assessed a deposit charge.

For exchange program applicants, as there are no additional fees for exchange programs, the deposit will be applied to your tuition for the exchange term. If you are not accepted by the host institution, your deposit will be credited to your account.

All students enrolled for credit in a study away program are eligible for financial aid for that term.

Students will be eligible for grants and loans as if they were on campus, with the exception of Federal Work Study (FWS) in some cases. The normal FWS component of an aid package will be covered with additional loan funds, upon request. Please make an appointment with the Financial Aid Office for specific advisement for your program.

You are required to follow the Financial Aid guidelines/deadlines and complete all forms as you normally would each year at ArtCenter.

In addition to the regular financial aid forms, there may be additional special steps for studying away. Please consult the Financial Aid Office for further information.

Students planning to study abroad are encouraged to apply for scholarships early. For more information on outside scholarships, please visit our Scholarships page. You may also inquire about scholarship opportunities with the Exchange and Study Away office or the Financial Aid office. You are welcome to make an appointment with the Exchange and Study Away office if you have general questions about your scholarship application and would like some assistance.


All travel outside of the U.S. requires a passport. The passport is your official document identifying you as a citizen of the United States (or home country). If you do not currently have a passport you must apply for one as soon as possible!  If you already have a passport be sure to check the expiration date. Many countries have visa specifications that require your passport to be valid for up to six months after you plan on being back in the United States. The processing time for a passport application can take four to six weeks, so plan ahead.

For U.S. citizens: To obtain a passport application and for more detailed information on how to apply or renew your passport, visit the U.S. State Department website.

For non-U.S. citizens: Please verify that your passport is valid for up to six months after you plan on being back in the United States.

Remember: Your passport is the most important document you have when outside of the United States. Know where it is at all times. When you receive your passport, make several copies of the front pages and keep the copies separate from your baggage. We advise that you also leave a copy with your parents or another family member at home. It is not necessary to carry your passport with you. In fact, you are strongly advised to leave it in a locked and secure place at your domicile, e.g., apartment, hotel room, or hostel.


Many governments require a visa for entry into their country. A visa, which is a stamp or attachment in your passport, allows you to stay in that specific country for a certain amount of time. Visas are issued by a consulate or embassy of that country. Each country has its own immigration and visa policies. Please make sure you have fulfilled all of the requirements necessary before your departure. Each country has different rules and it is YOUR responsibility to know and understand these rules. You should contact the consulate or embassy of the country you are traveling to or visit its website. Plan early, some visas applications can take up to three or four months to process! A valid passport with a sufficient number of blank pages is needed prior to applying for a visa.

For U.S. citizens: A list of foreign entry requirements and consular contact numbers can be found on the U.S. State Department website.

For non-U.S. citizens: Please verify the visa requirements with the consulate of the country to which you are applying. In addition, if you are in the U.S. on a F-1 student visa, please also make sure that your F-1 visa is not expired or will be expired by the time you wish to return to the U.S.  Consult with ArtCenter’s International Student Advisor in the Center for the Student Experience for additional guidance.

For legal reasons, the Exchange and Study Away office cannot provide information about how to obtain a visa for a foreign country. Please contact the embassy or consulate of your host country for information and guidance.

For most ArtCenter programs, you are responsible for making your own flight arrangements. Do not wait until the last minute to book your travel. Unless your program specifies that a group flight will be booked for you, it is essential for you to make your flight and other travel arrangements so that you arrive in time at the designated location, date, and time for the start of your program.

There are a number of student travel sites available to assist you with your travel planning, some of these include:

STA Travel:
Student Universe:
Go Abroad:
Cheap Flights:
Cheap Tickets:

STA Travel offers an airfare deposit program for students that allows you to book your flight with a non-refundable deposit and pay the remaining balance of the flight price before departure. For more information please see

You can also look into using airline miles or promotion deals for your flights.

Independent Travel
If you are planning your own travel aside from the course itinerary, such as during your free time or before or after the class program, notify your faculty leader where you will be traveling, when you will be traveling, and when you will be returning. It is highly recommended that you travel with others rather than alone. Travel on weekends should not interfere with regular attendance of classes. It is recommended that you focus your travel to nearby locations. When traveling to faraway destinations, the majority of your time is spent on the train and searching for lodging with little time left to see the sights. Save your more distant travel for before or after the program or during break periods. Such distant leisure travel is also a much better experience when you have time to travel with visiting family and friends.

As soon as you have been accepted into a study away program, make appointments for medical examinations to ensure that you are in good health before you leave and to complete all necessary immunizations. Request copies of important records, x-rays, and prescriptions in generic form that you can take with you. Update your health records as well, including vision correction prescriptions and regular medications. We recommend that you take an extra pair of eyeglasses and/or contact lenses with you.

As an ArtCenter study away program participant, you will be automatically enrolled in the Aetna Student Health Insurance which can be used for pre-departure check-ups as well as any medical needs should you return to the U.S. prior to the end of the term. The health insurance policy begins the first day of the term and ends on the last day of the break each term.

Living and learning in a different physical and social environment places additional demands on one’s mind and body. The emotional effects of confronting a new lifestyle can arouse anxiousness, bewilderment, and discouragement. As a result, you may experience stress while traveling abroad. If you take proper care of yourself through rest, relaxation, and activities such as reading and exercise, you will be more capable of making a healthy adjustment to your surroundings.

Health Information Form
For your safety, you are required to complete a confidential Health Information form to inform the Center for the Student Experience and the study away or onsite faculty leader(s) of your health history and any special medical needs you may have. This information will only be used to enable us to serve you promptly and correctly, should you require medical or counseling services during your time off-campus. It is important to be clear and forthright about your health status when participating in a study abroad program.

If you are planning to travel abroad it may take a minimum of two months to complete all immunizations and a physical for your travel. So plan ahead! First make an appointment to see a doctor for a medical exam and for a record of what vaccinations you may have already received. You may be able to receive some of your immunizations through your doctor’s office; however, often you have to go to a travel clinic for additional vaccinations. Local clinics in Pasadena include:

Healthy Traveler Clinic
1250 East Green Street, Pasadena, CA 91106
T: 626.584.1200

Travel and Health Immunization Clinic, Pasadena Public Health Department
1845 North Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91103
T: 626.744.6121

It is the student’s responsibility to obtain the proper vaccinations! For current health conditions and recommended vaccinations, visit the Center for Disease Control’s website.

HIV and Other STIs
As in the U.S., students abroad should take appropriate precautions to avoid exposure to the HIV virus as well as other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as gonorrhea, syphilis, and herpes. Knowing this and taking precautions, such as refraining from blood to blood contact (e.g., unsterilized needles, ear piercing, tattoos) and unprotected sex, is the best way to avoid infection.

Blood, blood transfusions, and blood products are NOT tested for HIV in many foreign countries, especially in Africa, South East Asia, and former Communist/Eastern Block countries. In addition, because of the shortage of medical supplies, items such as hypodermic needles are often reused. If you are in need of medical care or blood, we suggest you contact Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI) or the American Embassy about where to go.

HIV Antibody Testing Overseas
Be aware that some countries may require HIV anti-body tests and there may be constraints on what countries you can enter if you are HIV-positive. Check in advance of your trip with the Consulate or Embassy of the country in which you will be studying and any others you plan to visit.

Hepatitis is a serious liver disease that is most commonly caused by a virus and you may be at risk of exposure to that virus while traveling. Prevention is key to avoid contracting viral hepatitis. One of the most effective ways to protect yourself is to get vaccinated. If you are going to be in an area at risk for viral hepatitis, talk to your doctor about getting vaccinated (currently, vaccines are available for two different kinds of viral hepatitis and you are advised to receive full vaccination for both).

Other steps you can take to prevent contracting hepatitis A (which is usually spread through unsanitary conditions and contaminated water) are: drink only bottled water, don’t add ice to drinks, avoid eating unpeeled or raw fruits and salads, practice thorough handwashing techniques often, avoid eating shellfish and raw fish caught in contaminated waters, and don’t swim in water that might be contaminated.

Preventative steps against hepatitis B (which is usually spread through direct contact with infected body fluids) include: practice safe sex if you have sexual contact with a local person, avoid activities that puncture the skin (tattooing or body piercing) and don’t share personal items (toothbrushes or razors), and minimize your risk for an accident by avoiding activities that might cause injuries and bleeding.

Mental Health
Study abroad is both enormously fulfilling and often challenging for all students and can present some additional challenges for students with mental health conditions. The challenges of adjusting to a new environment coupled with the absence of a familiar support system may exacerbate existent conditions. Going to another country will not solve personal problems and may make them more severe. Work with a professional before you leave to discuss your condition. If you would like to talk to a counselor about concerns you might have, make an appointment through the Center for the Student Experience to meet with our on-site licensed therapists/counselors prior to departure. As a registered student, you are entitled to up to five free counseling sessions per term.

Do NOT make changes to your medications prior to or during your travel!

If you think you are in trouble, let your family, friends, faculty leader, ArtCenter therapist, or our office know so that someone can help you. Should you need professional services abroad, you should contact CISI for a referral to a counselor, clinic, or hospital where you will be staying. ArtCenter is unable to offer phone counseling or videoconferencing to students abroad except in the case of natural disasters or other international emergencies.

Prescriptions, Non-prescription Medications, Vitamins, Herbs, and Health Supplements
Plan to take enough of these items in original bottles for your full program. Loose pills or unmarked bottles may be confiscated by the host country’s Customs Services. Take copies of your prescriptions with you in case you need to refill or replace them if lost. In most cases, it is not legal or feasible to mail prescriptions from the U.S. overseas.

Some drugs available by prescription in the U.S. are illegal in other countries. Check the U.S. Department of State Consular Information Sheets for the country(s) you intend to visit. If your medication is legal but simply not available in the country you will be visiting, ask your healthcare provider to write a letter on official stationery stating the medication has been prescribed for you. For additional information, review the Overseas Security Advisory Council’s Traveling with Medication. Carefully read the case studies and pre-departure and in-country guidance.

Stomach Problems
Probably the most common ailment for all travelers is diarrhea caused by contaminated food or drink. Depending on the country where you will be studying and your general digestive health, you should bring along an anti-diarrhea medication. You should also check on other health issues, such as whether it is safe to drink the local water, and ask your doctor about preventive medication for the common illnesses that can result.

If you have diarrhea and no fever then the best plan of action is to let it run its course and make sure that you drink plenty of bottled water to keep yourself hydrated. The best foods for diarrhea are bananas, rice, apples, and decaffeinated teas. If your diarrhea is accompanied with a fever, or if your diarrhea lasts longer than a couple of days then it is necessary to see a doctor. Contact CISI to locate a doctor in the area where you are staying.

Students with Disabilities
Many of the disability accommodations or services that are provided at U.S. universities may be different or unavailable overseas. Being in a new environment can also be stressful, and accommodations that you may not have needed at home may become necessary in an unfamiliar setting. Participants with a documented disability, whether learning or physical, should contact the the Center for the Student Experience  upon acceptance into a program to discuss their needs while studying away.

A good resource for students with disabilities is Mobility International USA (MIUSA). MIUSA is a nonprofit organization serving study abroad students with cognitive, hearing, learning, mental health, physical, systemic, vision and other disabilities. To learn more, visit their website at:

If you choose to bring your laptop, computer accessories, and/or personal production gear (photo, film, video, etc.) with you, please refer to ArtCenter’s Equipment Insurance FAQ sheet, also available from the Equipment Room. All students involved in a credit-bearing program will be covered under this insurance plan. Be sure that your laptop has tracking software installed to be eligible for theft coverage.  For more information, contact the Equipment Room Manager.

Personal property including cell phones and wallets are not covered under the equipment insurance policy or travel/medical insurance policy. We recommend you consider buying personal property insurance to protect personal belongings. Personal property insurance can be purchased from or another insurer. Be sure to indicate that you are an ArtCenter student for the best rate.

The range of expenses can vary depending on the length of your study away program. Download this sample budget worksheet to help you anticipate your expenses and consider the resources you have that can pay for your study abroad costs.

Accessing Money Abroad
Talk with someone who has lived in the country you are traveling to and find out the best way of banking for an extended period of time. Before departure, contact your bank and credit card companies to inform them you will be using your card abroad to make purchases. This ensures they are aware you will be using your credit/ATM card out of the country so that they do not mistakenly freeze your account due to suspicions of fraudulent use.

It is a good idea to obtain a small quantity of foreign currency prior to your arrival, especially if you are arriving on a weekend. Otherwise, be prepared to find an ATM or exchange house in the airport upon arrival.

ATM Cards and Credit Cards
ATM cards are probably the most convenient way to acquire funds while abroad. You will need to have a four-digit PIN in order to access funds from foreign ATMs. Check with your bank to find out where your ATM card can be used, what fees are involved, and to ensure your PIN has the appropriate number of digits for ATMs in your destination country/countries.

U.S. credit cards are widely accepted and make foreign currency transactions easy. They are very useful in a financial emergency. Be sure to acquire a PIN for your credit card before you leave. When you arrive home, your statement will include transactions that have been converted into U.S. dollars. Remember that you may be charged service fees for international transactions and for any cash advances on your card. Make a cash advance only if you have no other option for getting money. Also remember that you will need to make your monthly payment to your credit card company while you are abroad—make arrangements prior to your departure.

You should make copies of the front and back of each card you plan to take with you and keep one copy at home with friends or family and a copy with you, separate from the other cards.

Power of Attorney
It is a good idea to give a trusted family member access to your financial accounts prior to your departure. You can do this by giving them “Power of Attorney.”  You may need to go to your financial institution with your family member and give them permission to oversee your accounts while you are out of the country. This is especially helpful if you need them to move money from one account to another or withdraw funds on your behalf to pay bills, etc.

You may need to arrange to have tax forms sent to you (they are also usually available at a U.S. consulate or embassy) or have taxes paid for you by your power of attorney while you are out of the country. It is also possible to ask for an extension. Be sure to know what your tax responsibilities are and how to comply before you leave. For more information, check the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website.

Plan your wardrobe carefully so that you take as few clothes as possible. Remember, DO NOT BRING MORE THAN YOU CAN CARRY!

  • Don’t pack things that you can buy in your host country. You will be able to buy most toiletries and basic school supplies almost anywhere. You don’t need to weigh down your suitcase with bottles of your favorite shampoo.
  • Don’t pack a lot of clothes. You may wish to buy some clothes while you are abroad too so you’ll need to save room in your suitcase.
  • Pack clothing that is versatile and sturdy. You may want at least one set of nicer clothing for evenings out, meetings, or presentations, but otherwise make sure your clothing can take a good hand washing. Good walking shoes are a must.
  • Pack necessary prescription medicine (in carry-on), contraceptives, tampons, etc. Some of these items are not readily accessible abroad. Bring a copy of your prescription with the generic name of the drug in case you need to buy more.
  • Make note of credit card and ATM information and spending limits, including the phone number if the card is lost or stolen. Because of fraud protection systems, call the credit card company before departure to document which countries the card will be used in.
  • Your airline carrier restricts luggage size and weight. Contact your airline directly for more information. Also inquire with your airline if you are making connecting flights as sometimes the number of bags can be restricted if you are connecting and carrying on. Airlines may be very strict about luggage restrictions and may charge you for being over their baggage allowances and baggage weight limits.

Clothing to Consider

  • Rainproof walking shoes
  • Flip-flops for the showers in hostels
  • Poncho/rain jacket
  • Bathing suit
  • Hat for protection against the sun, or the cold

Medicine and Toiletries

  • Prescription medicine and the original prescriptions signed by your doctor
  • Sunscreen
  • Deodorant
  • First aid kit
  • Contraceptives and condoms
  • Aspirin or ibuprofen
  • Tissues
  • Tampons/pads
  • Razors/blades
  • Eyeglasses and sunglasses
  • Extra contact lenses and cleaning solutions
  • Tweezers, nail files/polish, etc.
  • Bed linens (if not provided by the program site)
  • Towel/washcloth (if not provided by the program site)
  • Moist towelettes


  • A good guidebook (Lonely Planet and Rough Guide are popular choices for budget travelers)
  • Phrasebook (if studying in a country where English is not a primary language)
  • Watch (cheap, reliable)
  • Cell phone and charger (verify with your carrier that your phone will work abroad)
  • Headphones
  • Camera and charger or film
  • Flashlight
  • Day pack/small compressible knapsack
  • Plastic storage bags
  • Laundry soap and line (you probably can buy this after arrival)
  • Umbrella
  • Luggage lock and tags
  • Battery-operated alarm clock
  • Batteries
  • Adapter and voltage converter/appropriate plugs (most other countries use different electric current and plugs)
  • Small locks for backpacks or locking luggage to overhead train racks
  • Small sewing kit
  • Earplugs


  • Passport and visa(s) (passport must be valid for at least six months after the end date of your program abroad)
  • Copies of prescription medicine
  • Tickets and rail passes
  • Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI) health and travel insurance policy card
  • Cash, credit cards, calling card, etc.
  • Copies of the above for reporting lost or stolen passports or cards

What to Leave at Home

  • All unnecessary credit cards
  • A copy of your itinerary and contact information abroad with family or friends
  • Valuable or expensive looking jewelry
  • Irreplaceable family objects
  • Copies of your passport, credit card numbers, and itineraries.

Should you or your parents wish to make a direct-dial international call from the U.S., the usual procedure is:

  1. Dial the International Access Code: 011
  2. Dial the country code (normally a 2- or 3-digit number)
  3. Dial the city code (normally a 1- to 5-digit number)
  4. Dial the local number abroad

You can get the country and city codes you need from any long-distance telephone company or directory. You can also search the internet for “country codes.”

Consider using Skype for good rates on phone calls and help set your family members up with a Skype account before you leave the U.S. Visit for more information.

Keep in mind the date/time difference when calling home! 

Mobile Phones
In the U.S., newer mobile phones that can operate on any of the three wireless frequencies worldwide are becoming more common. Global roaming rates still remain high, between 99 cents to $4.99 a minute, so be sure to check with your phone company to learn all of the rules before you go abroad.

If you will be staying abroad for a longer period of time, you may want to consider purchasing a cell phone once you arrive in your host country. Do some pre-departure research on how to rent or purchase a cell phone. Prices of phones and coverage are often significantly lower than in the U.S., but may offer less security with your identity and contacts than your own personal communication device.

Internet Access
In most locations, you will have access to the internet at your studio site, college or university campus, and/or residence. You can also connect online at various internet cafes in your host city. Do not expect to have the same access or speed of access when you are abroad. Consider whether you will need a USB dongle to access the internet connection. The entire world is not equipped with the same fiber-optics as the United States—you are going abroad to experience a different way of living, one of which may be a separation from high-tech equipment and the constant ability to Twitter, IM, or Facebook and/or free internet service.

Be sure to stay connected with ArtCenter by checking your account for regular announcements, notices, and deadlines.

Voting While Abroad
If you will be abroad on Election Day, you may request an absentee ballot. You may do so online or by mail. It is generally an easy process. If you do not make these provisions before leaving the U.S., you may still vote under the Overseas Voting Rights Act of 1974, which requires states to establish a means for persons residing overseas to apply for voter registration.

California Residents
Step 1: Register to vote and request a ballot. Even if you are or were registered to vote in past elections, in order to receive your election materials and vote when you are abroad, you need to apply for a absentee ballot by completing the online voter registration application at When registering, you will be asked your voter classification. Select “A U.S. citizen residing outside the U.S. temporarily.” Your ballot may be delivered to you by mail, email or fax. Please choose your delivery preference when you register. Your ballot will be delivered to you as requested.

Step 2: Complete and return your ballot. Once you receive your ballot, follow the instructions that accompany it. You will receive all the supplies necessary for the use and return of the ballot. You must sign the return envelope. Mail your voted ballot and signed return envelope following the Secretary of State’s online instructions under “Mailing Addresses and Fax Numbers for Military or Overseas Voters” online at

Under California law, while you may receive a blank ballot by email, you may not return a voted ballot by email.

Important Deadlines
Voter Registration Form: Postmarked 15 days before the election
Absentee Ballot Application: Received 7 days before the election if requesting by mail
Voted Absentee Ballot: Received by 8:00 p.m. on election day

Residents of All U.S. States and Territories
Residents of all U.S. states and territories may register to vote and request an absentee ballot online at

If you requested an absentee ballot but do not receive it, you can still vote by using the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB), which can be downloaded from

While abroad you may also inquire about voting at a U.S. embassy or consular office.

Additional Voting Resources
Overseas Vote Foundation – An Initiative of U.S. Vote Foundation. Absentee ballot request and voter registration services for all U.S. voters in all states at home and abroad. Select “U.S. Citizen Residing Outside the U.S. Temporarily and I Intend to Return” to register to vote and request an absentee ballot. Must have address overseas already known. – Nonpartisan voter registration tool provided as a public service by Democrats Abroad. Select “U.S. Citizen Residing Outside the U.S. Temporarily and I Intend to Return” to register to vote and request an absentee ballot.

U.S. Department of State information about overseas voting

Federal Voting Assistance Program

Republicans Overseas

Although you should by no means let paranoia ruin your travels, a reasonable amount of precaution is important. While you are abroad take the same precautions you would take in any large U.S. city you are not familiar with. Always pay attention to your surroundings and do not be foolish with your belongings. It is a good idea to learn as much as you can about the history, culture, politics and customs of your host country prior to your arrival. For instance, various countries and cultures respect certain manners and dress codes. You should abide by these manners and be equally respectful. Watching the local residents and their habits is your best guide to safe behavior. The less you stand out the safer you will be.

Basic Safety Tips

  • Never leave your bags unattended or ask a stranger to “just watch your stuff for a minute” while you go to the bathroom or purchase a ticket.
  • Do not carry your passport with you on a daily basis—keep it safely in your room or ask for it to be locked in a safe or security box at your accommodations.
  • Beware of pickpockets and con artists. The most common site for purse or camera snatchings are central train stations or crowded shopping areas.
  • Avoid areas where demonstrations are in progress. It may be illegal for you to participate in local demonstrations and you could be ordered to return to the United States.
  • Do not walk in unfamiliar areas of the city at night or accept rides from strangers.
  • Remember that drinking alcohol or using any drugs may put you in a vulnerable position, as your judgment will be impaired. Avoid going out late at night and drinking alcohol or using drugs, especially with people you do not know well. Staying sober at all times enables you to make better decisions.
  • Check current travel advisories. For current information and advisories, consult the U.S. State Department website.
  • Stay in touch with friends and family back home.

Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)
Register your trip with the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program and stay informed on the latest travel updates and information. This will also enable the State Department to better assist you in the case of an emergency.


The best advice for emergencies is to use your best judgment. In an emergency, you should immediately contact your faculty leader or your local campus exchange program administrator if on an exchange program. If the faculty is unreachable or incapacitated, call ArtCenter Campus Security (available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year) at +1.626.396.2211.

Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI), your health and travel insurance, is as also available to assist you, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, at 1.800.872.1414 (within the US) or +1.609.986.1234 (collect outside the U.S.) Email:

During a crisis, consult the State Department website for emergency information and resources.

Lost or Stolen Items
If you have anything stolen, file a report with your faculty leader or local campus exchange program administrator and local police authorities. Sometimes items can be retrieved if proper steps for reporting have been taken. Also, a police report is often required by insurance companies before they will process a claim.

Lost or Stolen Passport
Contact the U.S. State Department to replace a lost or stolen U.S. passport.

For non-U.S. citizens, contact your country’s local embassy. For a list of local country embassies, you can contact CISI or visit:  If you need to replace your U.S. student visa, contact ArtCenter’s International Student Advisor for assistance, including the issuance of a new I-20 if necessary. Also make an appointment at the U.S. Embassy for a replacement visa.

Local Laws and Legal Matters
Students abroad are subject to the laws of the country in which they study and the policies of the institution in which they are enrolled, as well as those of ArtCenter. Students who violate the law may have to face legal proceedings in the local judicial system, which may not provide the same safeguards for those accused of crime in the U.S. system. If convicted of a crime, a student will face punishment according to local practices. Many countries have laws regarding sexuality, dress, political assembly, and the use and distribution of illegal drugs, which are more severe than in the U.S. For their own protection, all students are cautioned to obey the laws of the country in which they study. In particular, any student who expects to use illegal drugs should seriously reconsider the decision to study abroad.

Exchange program students are subject to the disciplinary regulations of their host university and bear responsibility, as well, to ArtCenter’s Code of Conduct. In general, disciplinary action under the campus Code of Conduct may be taken for one year after the alleged misconduct occurs. Records of any disciplinary actions abroad become a part of a student’s file at ArtCenter.

All students are expected to respect national and local ordinances, even though these may sometimes be very different from those in the U.S.  The program does not tolerate abuse of alcohol, use of illegal drugs, or other behaviors disruptive to the wellbeing of others.  Students who do not adhere to appropriate standards of conduct are subject to dismissal from the program. No fees will be refunded under such circumstances.

Students studying abroad are guests of a foreign government.  They can be (and some have been) expelled from the country as undesirable, even when no legal proof exists that they have broken a law.  Students who are jailed will receive the following assistance from the program leader and the United States government:

1. Your family will be advised of your situation.
2. You will be assisted in getting a lawyer at your own or your family’s expense.

We cannot get you out of jail or provide you with bail money.

Avoid illegal activity at all times.

For more recommendations and resources on safety abroad, please visit the U.S. State Department’s websites for travelers and study abroad participants:

Don’t wait until you are overseas to learn about your host country. A little knowledge can go a long way in establishing good relations with people in your host country. Should you bring gifts? If so, what’s appropriate? How formal should you be with your fellow students and faculty? What should you expect in terms of requirements for your classes? What are some major political issues facing the country? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you get off to a good start and will build your confidence.

Also, many students find themselves intimidated by the knowledge people from other countries have, not only about their own politics, history and culture, but also about U.S. American politics and culture. Feeling insecure, it’s easy to shut yourself off from these conversations further preventing you from gaining the knowledge you seek! We are not suggesting you know everything, but rather, prepare yourself with a few key pieces of information. You can do a lot of pre-departure research on the internet.

Here are a few suggestions for getting prepared. Of course, you can’t do all these before you go. Select areas most interesting or most challenging to you. The more you know, the better.


  • Check out books, novels, short stories, poetry, etc. Learn about the major literary figures and their works.
  • Read non-fiction books on history, geography, politics, etc.
  • Seek out travel writing.
  • Explore language readers and textbooks for cultural information.


  • Rent videos from the library or check out films online. Watch films made about your host country and movies made by filmmakers from your host country.


Books to Help You Prepare

  • Paige, R. Michael et al., Maximizing Study Abroad: A Students’ Guide to Strategies for Language and Culture Learning and Use. CARLA, University of Minnesota, 2004. This is the book that will help you get the most from your experience abroad.
  • Travel Books: Many students say they lived by their travel guides, so get a complete and updated one. Let’s Go, Lonely Planet and The Rough Guide are good budget travel books with good background information on countries and world areas. There is also useful hostel/hotel information as well as must see sites. Europe on a Shoestring (Lonely Planet) is a great all around guide with accurate, up-to-date information and advice.

Language-Learning Resources

  • The ArtCenter library subscribes to a language learning resources, Mango, which students can access by going to the Online Resources page on the ArtCenter library website
  • Podcasts, free language lessons and apps you can download from the internet (e.g., Duolingo)
  • Take a class. See what options are available through ArtCenter’s cross-enrollment program or look into a local language school. People will be very appreciative of your attempts to learn the language of your host country, and you will have a lot more fun and a richer experience if you can interact with people from the country.

Basic things you should know before you go

It’s strategic to have some basic facts about your host country at your fingertips. This helps you get into conversations and shows your respect for the culture. Take some time to investigate the following topics and use above resources or ask a person from your host country to help you find out the information:

1. Names of political leaders
2. Names of political parties
3. Major religion(s)/spiritual beliefs and their effect on the host country
4. Hot topics of the day (e.g., government scandals)
5. Recent conflicts and the role of the U.S. in those conflicts
6. Type of government
7. Year of independence and circumstances
8. Economic conditions
9. Cultural diversity (immigration and refugee populations, etc.)
10. U.S. role in local economy, politics and culture

Two Rules for Successful Cross-Cultural Adjustment

1. Assume differences
When going abroad, keep an open mind to unexpected differences. If you go abroad thinking that the host culture is the same with only some quaint customs that are different, you may not be open to any differences. The differences that do exist but are not as apparent, such as attitudes toward the government’s role in one’s life, family relations, attitude toward elderly people and traditions, etc., are not as easy to encounter as differences in food and clothing. Cultural immersion is an integral part of the study abroad/exchange experience and it is a multi-faceted journey, just learning about the sounds, smells and tastes in a country are just the beginning. Experts of regions, countries, and even cities spend a long time becoming extremely familiar with the multitude of aspects such as history, politics, economics, religion, TV programming, language, etc. “Cultural learning” begins from the start, just like learning a new skill, at first you will be a beginner and then you will progress as you learn more. It is a “passive” learning process which until one is confronted by a different culture, may not be readily apparent.

2. Do unto others as they would have done unto themselves.
In other words, don’t expect to carry on a conversation about baseball with an Australian who is interested in cricket or walk into a Japanese home with your shoes on. Instead of the “Golden Rule,” where one refers to one’s own values, try to think of the host culture’s values and interests and concur as much as possible with them. Of course you don’t have to “go native,” but you should try to learn about your host culture’s values, customs, popular culture, etc., as much as possible. Being aware of the host culture does not mean you have to adopt that culture but it can help to keep your mind open to differences in a positive way.

Culture Shock
Cultural shock is a totally normal and logical reaction to differences we encounter in a foreign culture. Culture shock doesn’t result from just one event, and it usually doesn’t strike suddenly, or with any cause. It builds slowly from a series of small events. It also comes from living and working in an ambiguous situation. Living abroad will make you question your values, which you may have taken as absolutes before.

Cultural adjustment comes in stages. The various phases which you might find yourself going through in this process include (in chronological order):

  • Being fascinated with all the new things you are experiencing
  • Feeling uncomfortable because you don’t belong
  • Rejecting the foreign culture and people as being strange (culture shock)
  • Learning to decipher foreign behavior and customs
  • Accepting and enjoying the foreign culture

Some symptoms of culture shock:

  • Being homesick
  • General fear and mistrust
  • Retreat from other people
  • Hostility towards the host culture and its people
  • Increased desire for sleep
  • Increased attention to hygiene
  • Increased consumption of foods and drink
  • Not knowing how to cope with your environment
  • Extreme reactions to little frustrations—especially anger

Knowledgeable travelers advise handling culture shock with adaptability, a sense of humor, and a lot of common sense. Give yourself some time to become accustomed to the cultural differences.

How to deal with culture shock:

  • Be aware that this will happen and prepare for it by learning and accepting the new culture
  • Deal with it like any other stress: get out and about, get exercise, listen to music, phone home, talk with friends
  • Interpret the new culture:
    • Ask yourself, “Based on what I know, I think it means this. But my thinking is based on my assumptions. What else could it mean? Are my assumptions valid?”
    • Consider altering your point of view or at least consider at least one different perspective
    • Stay involved by engaging yourself in local activities
    • Form and maintain friendships in the community
    • Keep a cultural diary (by writing down your experiences you gain a fresh perspective and learn more about your true self)

The author, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., explains to us how important it is to learn about different cultures, encouraging us to experience the adventures of studying abroad:

“I’ve often thought there ought to be a manual to hand to little kids, telling them what kind of planet they’re on, why they don’t fall off it, how much time they’ve got here, how to avoid poison ivy, and so on…And one thing I would really like to tell them about is cultural relativity.  I didn’t learn until I was in college about all the other cultures, and I should have learned that in the first grade.  A first grader should understand that his or her culture isn’t a rational convention; that there are thousands of other cultures and they all work pretty well; that all cultures function on faith rather that truth; that there are lots of alternatives to our own society.  Cultural relativity is defensible and attractive.  It’s a source of hope.  It means we don’t have to continue this way if we don’t like it.”
(Vonnegut, 1988, p. 104)

 L. Robert Kohls defines “culture” as “an integrated system of learned behavior patterns that are characteristic of the members of any given society.”  Culture is learned and transmitted from generation to generation. However, there are individual differences in cultures that define a group so that it is nearly impossible to completely define a culture in its entirety.  In short, there is no one correct description or list of traits of a particular culture.

Further, there are no intrinsically right or wrong ways of living.  For practical purposes, there are only different solutions that have been learned in culture to provide for its basic needs.  In order to understand different values and behaviors, it is useful to approach them non-judgmentally and seek to understand that which is logically inherent in every culture rather than automatically condemning or accepting the different culture.

Re-entry Shock
One of the greatest challenges of studying abroad is coming back home. Many people expect to have difficulty adjusting when they go abroad, but no one expects to have struggles when they get back home. This is what’s called “re-entry shock.” You’ve just had an amazing experience abroad and you want to talk about it. Unfortunately, your parents and your friends may not be as interested as you would prefer. You’ve learned about a new culture and, chances are, you’ve changed some of your old values and ideas. You may have trouble re-assimilating into American culture, and on top of that, “ArtCenter culture.”

ArtCenter may look completely new to you after spending a semester abroad. Many students have difficulties readjusting to the hectic schedule and the stress on campus. Again, re-entry shock is inevitable and even the best prepared will have some challenges getting back into the swing of things. The following ideas might help you during your first months back:

  • Remember what you did when you were abroad and adjusting to your new country. Use those same techniques that helped you cope then to assist you with your readjustment now.
  • Play the role of the observer, not a judge. It’s easy to criticize, much more difficult to understand. You’re looking at American culture from a very unique standpoint now. Take your time and think about what you see.
  • Expect to feel frustration and depression. Knowing this will happen will not prevent these feelings, but it will keep you from feeling overwhelmed.
  • Take your time. Don’t rush into big decisions when you’re depressed.
  • Meet with the Exchange and Study Away office to discuss your experiences and learn ways that you can share your experiences with the ArtCenter community as well as serve as a contact for other students interested in study abroad.
  • Schedule an appointment to meet with an on-campus counselor through CSE.

Re-entry can be tough, but with time your re-entry shock will fade. You will readjust to life in the U.S., and at ArtCenter, too.

Through your experience abroad, you will have developed a number of skills that are valuable to future employers: cultural awareness and appreciation of diversity; overcoming language barriers and learning a foreign language; and adaptability, open-mindedness, independence, and resourcefulness.

Career Planning

While abroad, you may spend time considering what you will do after ArtCenter or how you can apply this experience to your professional materials. When thinking about your career and future professional interests, whether abroad or domestic, you will want to plan ahead in order to take advantage of your time away in a new place. Consider cultivating new relationships through networking, conducting research to identify companies of interest that may be located at your international destination or reach out to ArtCenter alumni who work or live in your city.

Individual career counseling is available through Career and Professional Development (CPD) to help you achieve your professional goals. Thirty-minute appointments are available (pre-departure or upon return) with a career counselor. Consider making an appointment before departure to strategize with a career counselor about how to best approach your semester abroad based on your professional interests, or make an appointment upon your return to discuss ways you can leverage your international experience in your professional materials and during interviews.

CPD offers resources including career exploration, career interest assessments, resume and cover letter critiques, interview preparation including mock interviews, job search and networking strategies. For a complete list of CPD’s resources, please visit ArtCenter Connect, which can be accessed though your Inside account.

ArtCenter Alumni Network
Before you leave or while you are abroad, consider connecting with one of 1,600 ArtCenter alumni abroad who are open to connecting with you for potential mentorship, advice, internships and employment post-ArtCenter.

For more information on reaching out to alumni, contact the Alumni Relations Office.

Student and Alumni Professional Development Resources

ArtCenter provides life-long learning opportunities for our global alumni community through educational alumni programs. In partnership with ArtCenter’s academic leadership, we offer design panels on future trends and industry practices, professional development workshops, entrepreneurship workshops and symposia, as well as design leadership programs.  Some of these programs take place regularly in Germany at our Berlin satellite studio. These programs are closely coordinated with the Career and Professional Development office, providing on-going, seamless resources and connections for our students and global alumni community. In addition to these programs, we work directly with students to connect them to relevant alumni in industry for mentorship and career support. Please contact the office of Entrepreneurship and Professional Practice if you are interested in learning more.

Ideas for students who have studied abroad and might want to work abroad in the future:

Before you go…

  • Use the Alumni Network to find alumni who are living in the city/country where you’ll be.
  • Talk with current students who studied abroad in the same location. Did any of them work or have an internship while there? How did they arrange it?
  • Prepare a resume. You never know when you will need it.
  • Meet with a career counselor in CPD for other ideas and resources. 

While abroad…

  • Maintain a “contacts” notebook of every interesting professional you meet.
  • Contact alumni. Meet them at their place of business or socially.
  • Practice, practice, practice the local language, if not English. Speak with locals. Read newspapers and magazines to learn about opportunities.
  • When you encounter other Americans, of any age, living in your city, introduce yourself. Make note of where they are employed and ask for tips that might help you obtain a position.
  • Pay attention to the cost of living abroad. Figure out how much money you would need to live there, or other places you might consider.

To learn more about the value of your study abroad experience, how to make career connections abroad, and how to market your study abroad experience to employers, check out the following student resource guide on study abroad and career development:

ArtCenter Contacts

Dominique Marin, Accounting Cashier




Room 200B (across from Library)

Cecilia Lopez, Senior Coordinator and Assistant to Dean of Students

Kendra Stanifer, Director/Assistant Dean of Students

Associate Provost, Student Affairs
Ray Quirolgico

Counseling and Wellness
Counselor’s Main Tel:  +1.626.396.2323

International Student Advising and Programs
Jeonghan Ryu, Associate Director

Diana Yung, International Student Advisor


Bill Gartrell, Registrar

Robbie Nock, Manager
Tel: +1.626.396.4212

Paul Brown, Manager

Katie Perkins, Director

Jon Mayfield, Assistant Director

Sara Williams, Study Away Advisor

Rebeca Larios, Assistant Director, Financial Aid

Cheryl Gillies, Director of Operations

In an emergency abroad, immediately contact your in-country faculty leader or local campus exchange program administrator if on an exchange program. If the faculty leader is unreachable or incapacitated, call ArtCenter Campus Security at:+1.626.396.2211.

Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI), your travel medical insurance, is also available to assist you at: 1.800.872.1414 (within the US) or +1.609.986.1234 (collect outside the U.S.) Email:, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.