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Duke GEO Article
by the Duke Global Education Office

Calling all list lovers! This list will walk you through everything you need to consider before you take off for your summer study away program. You should begin working to complete the items on this list as soon as you are enrolled in a summer program.

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  • For Duke students, attend required in-person pre-departure orientation sessions. For non-Duke students, you may be able to attend the session via Skype or WebEx. If not, all relevant information will be sent to you by GEO. 
  • Know how to contact people/offices at Duke or your home institution whom you may need to get in touch with during your time away. 
  • GEO will register you for courses; check DukeHub before you depart to make sure everything is correct.


All Students

  • If eligible for aid, complete financial aid application materials. Please note that your financial aid package cannot be processed until you are on Study Away Agreement Status. 
  • If you receive loans as part of your financial aid package, sign the Stafford Loan or University Loan Promissory Note online. 
  • Clear all registration holds and make sure all outstanding balances are paid to the Duke Bursar Office or similar office at your home institution.
  • Pay all required tuition and fees. Duke-administered program participants will be billed via the Bursar’s Office. 
  • Plan a budget, including an emergency fund (we suggest a minimum of $250). 

On Programs Outside the U.S.

  • Consider taking around US $100 in local currency with you. 
  • Notify your bank and credit card company that you will be abroad. 
  • Request a chip and pin credit and/or debit card if you do not already have one. 
  • Arrange for 'power of attorney' for the person handling your financial affairs in your absence (if not parent or guardian). 

Travel & Communication

All Students

  • Make travel arrangements, on your own or as part of a group flight sponsored by your program. 
  • Make copies of important documents (passport, ISIC, credit cards, etc.). You may want to save a digital copy of your documents in a secure cloud storage location, such as DukeBox.

On Programs Outside the U.S.

  • Apply for your passport. If you already have a passport, make sure that it is valid for at least six months past the date of your anticipated return; if it is not, renew it ASAP. 
  • Apply for and obtain a visa, if necessary.
  • If you are an international student studying in the U.S. on a student visa, consult with the Duke Visa Services Office or a similar office at your home institution to make sure your visa and other papers are in order. 
  • Consider getting an International Student Identity Card (ISIC).
  • Figure out how you will have cell phone service in your host country.
  • Set up Eduroam on your laptop to ensure Wi-Fi access at your host university (if applicable). 

Health, Safety, and Security

  • Understand how your health insurance plan covers you. Get insurance for additional coverage as needed. 
  • Discuss safety, terrorism, and emergency contact procedures with your family. 
  • Have a physical, dental check, eye examination, etc. Make sure you receive all appropriate immunizations and obtain prescription medications.
  • Research the location where you will be studying. If studying abroad, review information released by the U.S. State Department, International SOS, and speak to people who have traveled or lived there. Reach out to GEO if you have any questions or concerns.


How to Apply for a U.S. Passport

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International SOS (ISOS): Emergency and Travel Assistance Service

Duke has contracted with a travel assistance company called International SOS (ISOS), which provides emergency assistance and other services for all students (both Duke and non-Duke students) studying abroad on Duke programs. Learn what services are offered and how to make the most of this benefit.

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Laptop and Smartphone Security

It is easy to carry a laptop or smartphone around; but, unfortunately, it is just as easy for thieves to steal one. In the seconds it takes you to turn around to greet a friend in a coffee shop, a thief can pick up and make off with your valuables. Bottom line: You need to guard your laptop and phone as closely as you guard your wallet.

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Smart Things You Can Do To Avoid Unsafe Situations

Just like in the United States, it is important that you are vigilant and take commonsense precautions to safeguard yourself while on your study away program. There are proactive steps you can take to make your situation as safe as possible.

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Program Recommendations by Area of Study

Looking for a study away experience with an emphasis on courses in your discipline? Use these links to browse study away/abroad opportunities by areaof study. Browse these program recommendations by area of study for a quick guide to summer and semester programs – both Duke-In and Duke-Approved.

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Before You Go: Health & Wellness To-Do Items

This checklist will help you think about your health-related needs and take care of what needs attention before you depart. Things like what to pack, what to do if your routine medical visits falls during your time away, glasses and contacts, prescription medications, and immunizations, to name a few.

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