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Before You Go

Photo of students sitting on a step in the Czech Republic

There are several important steps to take before you leave for your study abroad experience. The information on this page is designed to help you consider what you need and the resources available to ensure a productive, healthy, safe and successful study abroad experience.

Important Reminders

  • Apply to your program! The earlier you apply the better—many programs can fill up prior to the deadline.
  • Confirm your study abroad plans with Smith by completing the “Post-Acceptance” section of your application in SITES.
  • Review additional important information in these “Before You Go” pages.
  • Review the Costs and Financial Aid section to ensure your understanding of the Smith Home School Fee Policy.
  • Take the Online Cultural Training Resource for Study Abroad.
  • Attend Smith’s mandatory pre-departure orientation. 

Find essential information on health, safety, identity and sustainability to help you prepare for your study abroad experience.

Florence, Geneva, Hamburg, Paris

For approved students going to a Smith Program Abroad, please view the predeparture information on the associated program’s “For Accepted Students” website: 

Additional Forms

The following Independent Study form is only for students participating on SIT programs, SFS programs, the Alliance Pune Program, or Frontiers Abroad.

Airfare & Visas

Airfare Stipends

  • We recommend that you begin looking into airfare as soon as possible, as ticket costs tend to increase the closer you get to the date of departure. Our office recommends that you consider using a service such as StudentUniverse. Benefits of booking your ticket through StudentUniverse may include lower ticket change fees.
  • The Office for International Study awards partial funding for airfare to students with financial need studying in places other than the UK and Ireland. Airfare stipends are disbursed at the end of the semester preceding study abroad. Note: eligible students with approved two-location petitions receive one airfare stipend that can be applied to either the fall or spring semester.


  • In most instances, students must have a passport that is valid six months after the end of the program.
  • Questions about visas should be directed to the study abroad program you have chosen to attend. 
  • Visa application processes for certain countries may be incompatible with activities or travel that prevent you from being actively engaged in obtaining your visa. Students are advised to thoroughly understand the visa application process for their destination country before making any summer/winter break plans.
  • International students using an F-1 visa to attend Smith may need to have a valid entry visa stamp in order to apply for the host country student visa.

Primary Insurance

All students are required to carry U.S.-based primary health insurance, and will be automatically enrolled in the Smith College student health insurance plan through Gallagher Student Health and Special Risk at the beginning of the term abroad. This insurance plan may be waived online at Gallagher Student Health and Special Risk if the student has another primary health insurance policy that provides comparable coverage, except in the case of international students, who must purchase the Smith College student health insurance plan through Gallagher Student Health and Special Risk. If you are an international student and plan to visit your home country during break, you may need additional insurance coverage in your home country during this period.

Supplemental Insurance

Students on a Smith program in Florence, Geneva (including the BA+MA program), Hamburg or Paris are also covered by a supplemental international medical insurance policy through Gallagher Student Health and Special Risk. Students participating on an approved program through another institution are eligible to purchase this supplemental study abroad insurance through Gallagher Student Health and Special Risk at an additional cost if the program or host university does not provide supplemental insurance. All students and their families should review the coverage information about this plan:

Students on Smith-approved programs should consult with their program provider/host institution to see if any supplemental health insurance is provided. If not, check the "Shopping for Insurance" and "Additional Coverage Overseas" tabs for information on purchasing additional health insurance coverage. This can be particularly useful if a student's primary health insurance coverage isn't adequate while they're abroad.

Services Provided by AIG/Travel Guard

AIG/Travel Guard is an independent service engaged by Five Colleges Inc. to provide students studying abroad access to a full range of medical information, travel assistance, and emergency services. It is important to remember that AIG/Travel Guard is NOT (and does not replace) international health insurance. It does, however, provide valuable services, such as:

  • Email or text alerts for your destination
  • Detailed and comprehensive country reports
  • Travel health concerns and vaccinations
  • General safety or security concerns

We strongly recommend that students register with AIG/Travel Guard and sign up for email updates and alerts for their destination. Registration is easy and free.

  • Go to the AIG Benefits Solution portal and click “register here.”
  • Enter your name, email address, organization name (Five Colleges), and policy number (0009144090).

You will receive an email confirmation with a password. When you log in with the password provided, you will be asked to reset the password. Students must register in order to access the on-line resources. Registration is not required to access resources and assistance by telephone.

AIG/Travel Guard Contact Information:

Toll-free number: 877-244-6871
Overseas collect: +1 715-346-0859
Policy Number: GTP 9144090

The AIG/Travel Guard plan also provides Medical Evacuation and Repatriation Coverage to students at no additional cost. If these services are needed they must be coordinated through the Five College Risk Management Office and AIG for coverage to apply.

Finding Providers

If you or your family’s insurance company does not provide coverage overseas, you will need to find a suitable provider for your time abroad. Providers include iNext, HTH Worldwide, and International SOS.

You can compare a variety of insurance providers at

Regardless of which plan a student chooses, she should contact the insurance company to ensure that coverage will be provided abroad and make sure that she understands the nature of the coverage, including how to submit claims and contact the insurer from outside the United States.

What to Look For

When considering insurance policies, ask these questions:

  • Will the plan cover hospitalization for accidents and illness for the entire period abroad?
  • Is there a deductible? How much?
  • Is there a dollar limit to the amount of coverage provided?
  • What are the procedures for filing a claim for medical expenses abroad? Is it necessary to pay up front and then get reimbursed?
  • When does the plan begin and end?
  • What proof of international medical coverage is provided?
  • Will this policy provide coverage in the United States for the insured semester/year if the student decides, for medical or other reasons, to return to the United States before the end of the program? (It is vital to have coverage valid in the United States throughout the period of study abroad.)

Special Information for Direct Enrollment

At Universities in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia & New Zealand