Travel Considerations


Housing is one of the most frequent questions students have. Where will you stay when you abroad, and what happens to your housing here in Oxford?

Housing options vary by program, so it is something to consider as you are selecting a program. Typically housing is included in the cost and is required by the program. Whether you choose an apartment, dorms or host family may depend on what you want to get out of the program.

Housing Abroad


Apartments are arranged by the program and typically situated in close proximity to the university campus or facilities where classes are held. Students can expect to live with other program participants.

University Residences

Dorms are typically located on or close to campus. Students can expect to experience communal living with other students enrolled in the university or the study abroad program. Often this can be a great way to meet local students or other international students.

Local Homestays

Some programs arrange accommodations with host families. Households chosen to participate in the program represent a wide range of incomes and living situations. Students can generally expect to live in a community nearby fellow study abroad students and are encouraged to embrace the housing standards of their host country. This style of accommodation is particularly encouraged for students looking for a high-level of immersion or those working to develop language skills.

Hotels and Youth Hostels

Short-term programs may make arrangements to stay at hotels or youth hostels, which are ideal for shorter stays. Students can expect to share a room other participants.

Independent Housing

Notice - Using independent housing while studying abroad is STRONGLY discouraged. You may encounter housing fraud and extortion, and greater safety and security risks. Also, you will receive much less support from your program provider, and you may find it much more challenging to participate in program community activities, which could negatively impact your mental health and your overall experience in the program.

Those who wish to live in independent housing are required to complete an independent housing petition form for Miami. If you are planning to stay in an AirBnB, you also will have to complete Miami's nontraditional lodging form. Students who have disciplinary history within the past year or multiple infractions will not be approved to live in independent housing. It is likely that you also will have to complete paperwork for your program provider.

On-campus and Oxford Housing

Do not let housing be the reason you cannot study abroad. Plan ahead for the semester or term that you plan to be abroad. Will you be in on-campus housing? Will you be renting an apartment off-campus or living at home? Will you need housing when you return?

On-Campus Housing

To cancel your On-Campus Housing for a semester abroad, contact the Office of Student Housing and Meal Plan Services. They will request that you complete the “Not Returning to Housing Next Semester” Form.

Off-Campus Housing

Living off campus? If you are studying abroad for a semester, try finding a friend that will alternate semester’s with you so that you can share a full-year lease. If you need to find a sub-letter for your off-campus housing or if you need to sublet upon your return to campus, use the Off-Campus Housing Service to make the connections you need.


Make a plan with parents/friends/significant others. You will not be as accessible while abroad because of changes in time zone, activities, and phone/internet capabilities. Set expectations before you leave, remembering that you may not be able to alert individuals about your safe arrival immediately.

Write down important phone numbers and keep them in multiple places in case you lose your phone. Remember, you may not have the same data capabilities while abroad so you will want to be prepared. It’s a good idea to provide family in the US with your address, new phone number, and program contact information as well.

Cell phones

While it may be possible to turn on the international voice and data capabilities on your US-based cell phone, doing so could be very expensive. You may want to consider purchasing or renting a local phone upon arrival to your program. Note: your program may provide them, or can give you advice on the best plan for your situation. It is usually cheaper to buy a phone abroad with a pay-as-you-go plan, but this may vary. You can also look into “unlocking” your phone before you leave the US so you can use an international Sim card; ask your carrier. WiFi is often not as readily available abroad as it is in the US - don't expect to have internet access via your phone in the same way you do in the US. We strongly recommend that you have calling capabilities while abroad, especially in the event of an emergency.

Apps like Viber, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Skype, and Facebook will let you talk/text with family and friends back home for free while on WiFi. Make sure to download and learn how to use the apps before you leave the US - but keep in mind that WiFi is not as readily available or fast outside of the US. When traveling or living in a big city with public transportation, there are often apps that have real-time info on buses, trains, etc. to help you navigate. Often, national train systems have their own apps to check times and buy tickets.

Internet Access

Internet access varies greatly around the globe. Do not expect to have the same internet access in terms of availability and speed while abroad. Also remember that some countries (such as China) place significant limits on the websites that can be accessed. For example, Google and Gmail (including your Miami email) may not be accessible in China. Research and plan accordingly.

Practice internet security when on public WiFi. Students can be easier targets for hackers. Protect passwords and personal information to reduce the risk of identity theft. All Miami students and employees have access to a Virtual Personal Network (VPN), which can provide more secure internet access and provide access to resources available through Miami's network. Learn more about VPN on the IT Services site. NOTE: VPNs can be illegal or discouraged in some countries, do research before you go.

Social Media

Consider limiting your use of social media abroad. While every experience is different, some students feel the constant connection to home limits their ability to interact with the local culture. Be cognizant of what you might be missing out on if you are viewing your host community only through the lens of your smartphone. The constant reminders of what is happening at home can keep you from appreciating the new and exciting experiences you are having abroad. Feel free to take a break or lessen the time spent online to make the most of your time abroad.

If you do use social media, consider using #MiamiOHAbroad and #MiamiOH so the greater Miami community can enjoy your posts!

Culture Shock

What is Culture Shock?

Culture shock doesn't come from a specific event but from interacting in a new culture over a length time while not understanding the cultural cues. It is like trying to play a game of cards without knowing whether the Aces are high or low or if the Jack is wild. In the process, your own values and culture are called into question as you try to navigate your new home. It’s good to know the signs of culture shock so that you can recognize it in yourself or your classmates.

What should I expect?

Culture shock generally leads students to experience a series of ups and downs that we refer to as the “w-curve”. Be prepared for the emotional highs and lows and know that your classmates are experiencing them too. Embrace the discomfort knowing that in the end you will have a better understanding of who you are and differing cultural perspectives.

During culture shock, you might feel:

  • Lonely
  • Angry
  • Irritable
  • Homesick
  • Lost

You may experience:

  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Difficulty solving simple problems
  • Stereotyping new culture

Stages of Culture Shock

1. Initial Euphoria

You step off the plane in a new country and are excited about your new adventure. Everyone has told you what an amazing time you are going to have. You’re feeling prepared and ready to go.

2. Irritation/Hostility

The more you experience in your new country, the more you are able to notice differences. No matter what you do, you do not seem to fit quite right with the local culture. Even after all of those Spanish classes, ordering dinner seems like an ordeal. Instead of being excited by the idea of tapas, you think, “Why do the Spanish eat dinner so late? That can’t be good for digestion.” You’re in culture shock and suddenly small problems you would take in stride seem overwhelming. Your initial excitement turns to frustration or loneliness.

3. Gradual Adjustment

After giving yourself some time to adjust, you realize you’ve mastered the bus system or learned to use chopsticks. You can tell when the street vendor wants to chat about his family and when he is too busy. Your sense of normalcy returns as you create patterns and routine, which makes you feel more comfortable in your adopted home. It’s not so different here.

4. Adaptation

Without really noticing, you’ll realize that your new culture feels like home. Some of the new habits like train travel or afternoon tea you prefer more than your old habits. Though it may take many years, you may find that you become equally comfortable in both cultures.

Stages 2 and 3 may be experienced multiple times throughout your time abroad as you become more and more comfortable in your host culture. Frustration may occur the more you begin to notice the subtle cultural cues that affect the way people interact with you.

Most students experience a period of transition when they arrive in a new place, feeling out of step and unsure what is appropriate. Everything seems new and different from language to street signs to table manners.

What should I do?

Know before you go.

Research the country and its culture. Your program may have a handbook that explains cultural customs. Read local news sites to learn about current events in your host country.

Try to understand the differences.

Most traditions have a history and provide logical explanations for what you might find odd at first. Realize that your customs and traditions may seem bizarre to someone from your host country!

Remember that it’s ok to fail.

Be prepared to laugh at your mistakes (Like that time you meant to tell your host family that you were full but instead said that you were pregnant, oops!)

Talk about it.

Talk about your feelings and experiences, but don’t spend too much time being negative.

Make local friends and ask questions!

They may also be genuinely curious about America and you can spark a great conversation.

Document your experiences in a journal or blog.

Identify a specific event that was confusing to you. Re-read half-way through your stay. Does everything make sense now?

Trust that you will be fine.

Take the highs with the lows and know that ultimately you will have a memorable experience.

Work to be:

  • Tolerant
  • Open-minded
  • Non-judgmental
  • Empathetic
  • Communicative
  • Flexible
  • Adaptable
  • Curious
  • Self-reliable
  • Willing to make mistakes

Student Counseling Service

If you find that you are having trouble managing the symptoms of culture shock, Miami University Student Counseling Services is available to you even while you abroad. To contact them, please call 513-529-4634 or email

Culture Shock Resources

  • Bennett, Milton J. ed. Basic Concepts of Intercultural Communications. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press, 1998.
  • Kohls, L. Robert. Survival Kit for Overseas Living. Yarmouth, ME: Nicholas Brealey/Intercultural Press, 2001.
  • La Brack, B. (2013, January 10) What's up with culture? Retrieved from
  • Storti, Craig. The Art of Coming Home. Yarmouth, ME: Nicholas, Brealey/Intercultural Press, 2001.


Your program will be able to provide a packing list. Stick to the list and avoid bringing items that you likely will not need. Try to pack basic, versatile items that you can layer depending on the weather. Feel free to ask friends who have studied abroad how they would have packed differently.


  • Check your airline’s website to find out about baggage restrictions (how many bags, weight restrictions, and what you can’t pack). In general, no more than two checked bags are needed.
  • Make sure your bags are labeled so that you can easily identify them. If you do not have one, ask the Study Abroad office for a luggage tag!
  • Be sure that you can lift and transport your bags. You may need to take them on/off public transportation or over cobblestone streets. To check this, pack your bags, take them for a walk around the block, THEN decide what you really need to bring!
  • Small appliances (hairdryers, shavers, etc.): Buy them there or do without! They will usually have different plugs and different voltage requirements and soon burn out.

Packing Your Carry-On

  • Check TSA for the most current carry-on restrictions.
  • Liquids/gels must be 3oz or smaller and in one quart-sized Ziploc® bag (larger containers can be checked)
  • Pack PJ’s/a change of clothes in case your flight or your checked bag is delayed, lost, etc.
  • Keep your passport and medication in your carry-on. Do NOT put them in your checked bag where they could be lost or stolen.
  • Eye mask and headphones, ear plugs, and reading material are good for long flights. 


You may want to order some local currency through your bank to use upon arrival. Give the bank several weeks to complete this order.

Research your bank's ATM and credit card policy on foreign transactions and fees and apply for a new card/account as necessary.

Call your bank and/or credit card company and tell them which countries you’ll be traveling to including transit countries and those you may visit outside of your program. Failure to do so could result in your card being unusable or frozen for fraud protection.

Have money accessible in multiple formats in case one fails (credit card/debit card/cash, etc.). Don’t keep all your money in one place (have a backup fund handy at your home base and when traveling).

Credit cards are becoming more commonly used, though some economies remain cash-based – a guidebook or program director can help you prepare for where you’ll need cash. Many countries are moving to chip+PIN, and cashiers may not be as familiar with our card-swiping system, check with your credit card company to see if you can upgrade your card.

Choose ATMs carefully. Your program can advise on reputable ATMs and how to avoid the local scams. You may be charged a foreign transaction fee, a fee from your bank and a fee from the bank where you’re taking out funds. Try to limit your withdrawals to limit these fees. If you do withdraw significant amounts of cash, be careful not to flash it around and draw unwanted attention to yourself.


Determine Your Academic Goals

When considering your study abroad program, it is important to think about how it will best fit into your academic course plan. With many programs to choose from, it may be useful to first consider what your academic goals are, and then select a program that meets those goals.

Meet with an Academic Advisor: As you begin your search for a program, be sure to discuss study abroad with your academic advisor. Consider the following questions:

  • What type of Major/Minor/Global Miami Plan requirements do you plan to complete while studying abroad?
  • Are you interested in fulfilling Global Perspectives (6 credit hours) or a Self-Designed Thematic Sequence (9 credit hours, approval needed)?
  • Is it important if you earn Miami credit or transfer credit?
  • Is language acquisition/fluency a goal for your study abroad experience?
  • When is the best time to be abroad for your major? Sophomore, Junior or Senior year?

Academic Policies and Requirements

Students studying abroad are subject to the same policies as they would have studying on campus in Oxford. Students are expected to abide by the Miami Student Handbook, Miami Code of Conduct and maintain high standards of academic honesty and integrity.


Students must be in good academic standing to be eligible for study abroad. Most Miami programs will require a minimum of a 2.25 GPA, but some require a 2.5 or as high as a 3.0. Transfer credit programs vary widely as well. Be sure to check the eligibility requirements for the programs you plan to apply to.

Course Credit

Miami Credit

Most study abroad students enroll in Miami Programs. All of our Faculty-led and Miami Luxembourg are coordinated by Miami and offer courses taught by Miami faculty. Students on these programs will earn Miami credit just as they would on the Oxford or regional campuses. Students should expect similar rigor on abroad/away courses as they would on campus. Grades are determined using standard grading scales and will contribute, like any other Miami course, to your GPA.

Transfer Credit

We know that students have a wide variety of interests and needs, so Miami offers the opportunity for students to enroll in programs that do not offer Miami credit. Examples of these transfer credit programs are Exchanges, Co-Sponsored Programs and Approved Programs. Students must seek approval for their courses to transfer and must submit a transcript from an accredited university showing completed courses with a grade of D- or better. Once completed, courses will appear on your transcript as transfer courses for Credit/No Credit and will not factor into your GPA.

Some students use transfer credit courses for major and minor courses, but we also recommend that you be creative in considering how your courses abroad can complete Global Miami Plan requirements such as Global Perspectives, Fine Arts and/or a Thematic Sequence. As always, please consult your Academic Advisor for the best use of transfer credits.

The Transfer Credit Approval Process

Once you find a program that you are interested, review the courses and syllabi (if available) on the program’s website. If it is not listed, you will need to contact the program to request this information. You will need it to complete your Transfer Credit Approval Form or TCAF. This form can be found in your application site as well as on the One Stop. The TCAF can be completed before, during or after the abroad experience, but it is best to complete it as soon as possible so that there is no confusion as to what credit you will earn while abroad. On the form, list the courses you plan to take, then bring the form and course descriptions to the Chief Departmental Advisor (CDA) for that course. The CDA will determine the Miami equivalency and sign the form to give their approval. Note that if you are taking a wide variety of courses, you may need to go to several different departments to have your courses approved. Plan ahead to make sure you have enough time to see everyone that you need to.

While Abroad

It is recommended that you register for courses that you had pre-approved on your TCAF, but we understand that changes may be necessary. If you enroll in a course that was not pre-approved, it is recommended that you communicate with your academic advisor to complete the approval process for your new course. You do not want to return from your program and find out that you did not complete the Miami degree requirements you expected.

Be sure to save all syllabi and coursework from your classes. You may need it for a petition, graduate school application, or future employment.

Upon Return

Request an official transcript be sent to Miami University, and consider requesting a person copy for your own records. Mail your official transcript to:

Office of the Registrar
Transfer Credit Evaluations
Miami University
301 S. Campus Avenue
Oxford, OH 45056

Please note that it can take a couple of months for your program to send a complete transcript to Miami, and for Miami to process the transfer.

If you have earned at least 6 credits towards the Global Perspectives requirement, but your DAR does not reflect this, you will need to email the Office of Liberal Education. Provide your name, banner ID, and the course(s) to apply to the Global Perspectives requirement.


If abroad for a semester, students will be registered in a STY ABD course at Miami. This course serves as a placeholder for administrative purpose to maintain your full-time Miami student status. It reserves your spot at Miami for the following semester and allows you to maintain eligibility for financial aid and scholarships. STY ABD students will be able to take advantage of priority registration, approximately one week in advance of the usual date.

Considerations For Seniors

Students studying abroad in the second semester of their senior year must request a waiver of the 12-credit residency requirement from the One Stop or your divisional advising office.

Registering for Next Semester’s Courses While Abroad

Students studying abroad on semester long programs will have priority registration for the following semester. Registration dates/times (time tickets) will be available through BannerWeb in early October/April.

The registration process will work the same as here on campus – you will register for courses electronically via BannerWeb. However, if you are in a different time zone, you will need to remember that your time ticket is listed in (Oxford, Ohio) Eastern Time. Set your alarm accordingly! Plan ahead for any courses that might require a prerequisite or instructor permission. In this case you will need to contact the department offering the course to request permission to register. The Education Abroad office is not able to force add you to any course.

Academic Environment Abroad

Something students do not always consider before studying abroad are the changes to the academic environment in a different country. Consider these differences as you prepare for your program abroad to best prepare for a successful semester abroad.

Classroom Learning vs. Experiential Learning (or combination)

Some programs offer courses that are primarily classroom/lecture-based, while others are more experiential in nature. Faculty-led programs, in particular, tend to be more experiential, or provide supplemental activities to allow you to investigate the local context of what you are learning.

Role of the Professor

Students taking courses from international instructors may notice a difference in educational philosophy. In the US, a typical instructional philosophy is that it is the instructor's primary responsibility to teach and to ensure that students learn. In some other counties, instructors expect students to be proactive and individually responsible for their learning. This may seem like a subtle difference, but can impact assignments, grading, and even attendance policies.


In some countries, students receive only one exam which determines their grade for the entire course. If you fail, there are no opportunities to make up points. While this approach may seem easier, it requires you take more personal responsibility for your learning. The professor will require additional assignments or check to see if you have read the assigned material. You must have the self-discipline to continue studying throughout the semester.


While Miami programs use a standard grading scale, you will find that many other countries have a much stricter grading philosophy. For example, in the UK, a grade of 60%-70% can be considered an average, respectable grade; grades of 80% and above are rare. As long as you pass your classes (equivalent of a D- or above), credit will transfer back to Miami.