The decision to study abroad is an important one, and the Office of International Education encourages students, parents, and families to prepare together for a time of exciting academic experiences and significant personal growth. We understand that deciding to spend a significant amount of time studying overseas can be a nerve-wracking experience for any student and their family. There are a number of ways that families can inform and prepare themselves for this formative experience.
We encourage students to take responsibility for their learning experience, beginning with the selection of their program and the completion of the application process. Students learn a great deal of information about studying abroad and their particular program through our extensive orientation process. We encourage students to share information about their program with their family, but you will also find a great deal of helpful information throughout our website.
Please feel free to contact the Office of International Education with any questions you may have.
Study abroad gives your student a unique opportunity to add an international dimension to their education by gaining new perspectives on a variety of subjects. In addition, most study abroad students rate their experience as one of the highlights of their college career, and find that they undergo drastic personal and intellectual growth during their time abroad.
Showing interest in your son or daughter's pre-departure preparation can be a positive way for you to learn more about their program while demonstrating your support for them. Encourage your student to pick a program that meets his or her goals, instead of selecting a program only because a friend plans to apply as well. While gentle reminders and suggestions are fine, please resist the temptation to complete steps for your son or daughter. The preparation phase sets the tone for the remainder of the program, so students should become accustomed to working through issues and completing important documents on their own. This will not only prepare them to be more independent, but will also increase their feeling of ownership of the entire education abroad experience. Encourage your student to trust the local infrastructure of on-site coordinators and university personnel to help with the many challenges, small and large, that are part of any study abroad experience.
While some programs do require that students have a background in a foreign language, we offer many programs where classes are taught in English, even in non-English speaking countries. Many of these programs require a language course in the language of the host country.
Most foreign institutions are quite different than their American counterparts in areas such as registration procedures, teaching and grading styles, accommodations, access to technology, and campus facilities. These differences do not indicate a lack of quality. Students should embrace and learn from such differences and resist the urge to make comparisons.
Before heading to the airport, sit down with your family and make a plan for how to get in contact upon your arrival overseas. Make sure that they have a copy of your itinerary and keep in mind that you might not be able to contact them immediately depending on how accessible internet is.
It is a good idea to buy a pay-as-you-go cell phone when in your host country. Most countries provide short-term plans that are flexible and affordable. Having a local cell phone is not only convenient and cost effective but can also be an asset in case of an emergency. Students may also decide to unlock their smart phone and use a local provider, or purchase an international plan. Whichever option you choose, it is very important that our staff be able to contact you in the event of an emergency back home or abroad. Please make sure to enter your cell phone or a different phone number in which you can be reached in case of emergency, into BentleyAbroad.
Enter all emergency contacts into your cell phone, such as the Office of International Education, Bentley Campus Police, on-site emergency phone numbers and so on. Emergency numbers differ for each country (usually not “911”), so learn the appropriate number for your destination.
Most host institutions have a computer facility that is accessible to study abroad participants. However, the facilities may not be as state-of-the-art or as readily available as computer facilities at Bentley. Often, you must pay for paper when using academic computer labs or photocopying machines abroad. You should take your laptop computer with you abroad, but you must have an adapter for the power system. You should check with Client Services regarding power requirements for your equipment. Adapters should be purchased before departure.
For students in possession of a Windows notebook supplied by Bentley, you should run the Study Abroad Activation Utility before leaving campus. (This does not apply to Mac users). This utility will convert your MS Windows and Office licenses, so your notebook will remain functional while abroad. If you do not run this utility prior to leaving campus, the Windows Operating System and MS Office Software on your computer will stop working after an extended period of time being off of the Bentley network. If you are reading this message after leaving campus and you forgot to complete this important step, please contact the Help Desk at 781-891-3122 or GA_HelpDeskResponse@bentley.edu.
IF YOU HAVE ISSUES WITH YOUR COMPUTER NOTEBOOK WHILE ABROAD:
For hardware issues:
Please realize that Bentley is available to assist you with your computer related issues. However, due to shipping costs for which you are responsible, turnaround time, and customs clearance, sending your computer to Bentley for repair is not advisable. For guidance on how to troubleshoot hardware issues, please contact the Computing Services Help Desk by email or 781-891-3122.
For virus, software, and other assistance:
The Bentley University Help Desk is here for you even when you are thousands of miles away. Visit the Computing Services site, call at 781-891-3122, or simply send an email to email@example.com. If there appears to be viruses or malware on your notebook, these can usually be eradicated with Forefront which is already installed on your notebook. Please ask for assistance if you are unsure how to proceed.
Email is the official means of communication at Bentley. Therefore, you must check your Bentley account or forwarded account regularly. All students will have access to email facilities while they are abroad. However, it may take a few weeks to set up your email account, and you will not know your email address until then.
Travel away from host city
If you plan to travel while abroad, inform your family back home and your on-site coordinator. Leave them a copy of your itinerary or, at the very least, tell them when you are leaving, where you are staying and when you plan on returning. Make sure that your family, on-site coordinator and friends have your cell phone number or the phone numbers of places you will be staying. This information is vital in reaching you in case of an emergency. Update your profile on the U.S. Department of State web site if you will be traveling outside your host country.
Please click here for a list of all semester abroad fees. Please note that individual spending habits vary widely, so it is difficult to provide an exact estimate of personal expenses.
Bentley charges home tuition because students on study abroad continue to earn Bentley credit, not transfer credit, toward a Bentley degree. Students going abroad remain Bentley students and thus retain many of the services that they receive on campus (such as IT, advising, online library and research services, etc.) as well as additional specialized services particular to study abroad. Home school tuition for study abroad allows the broadest access to study abroad, ensuring that the financial aid package students have at Bentley will also apply to a semester abroad. Bentley financial aid is transferable to Bentley's approved partner and affiliate semester abroad programs. The policy of charging home tuition for study abroad is common among Bentley’s selective peer universities around the U.S.
In the event that your student must withdraw from his or her program, the student should contact the Office of International Education immediately. Please click here to view our refund policy.
If your student is participating in a Bentley semester program, he or she remains eligible for Bentley, federal, and state financial aid; however, depending on the program cost, his or her aid may be adjusted. If your student receives financial aid, we encourage that he or she consult with their financial aid advisor prior to going abroad. Regarding faculty-led programs, the costs of an embedded program are not included in the determination of Bentley need-based or merit-based aid; however, it is possible to consider loans for these costs. Please visit the Office of Financial Assistance and speak with a financial aid counselor to discuss these options.
In most cases your son or daughter will find it most convenient to use credit and ATM cards. These cards will allow her or him to access funds from a home account and make purchases abroad. MasterCard and Visa are the most commonly accepted credit cards. Before your student leaves home, it is advisable to check with your bank or credit card company about fees for withdrawals and purchases made abroad. It is recommended that your student arrive in-country with some cash in local currency in case there are any problems with accessing funds in the first few days.
For most students, studying abroad may involve changes in lifestyle and require more financial planning. Even if you do not already budget your money in the United States, you should begin doing so to prepare for your Study Abroad program. Before departure, find out exactly what is and is not covered in the program fee. This will help you calculate how much will be needed for other purposes. Keep in mind that the cost of living varies from country to country, with currency fluctuations, and according to your personal lifestyle, so it is important to plan a budget individually. Some major expenses which you will need to account for include housing if not included in program fee, meals, local transportation, travel, mobile phone, books, personal items, and entertainment. Here are some helpful budget tips to get you started:
- Determine costs of daily expenses in the host currency. Refer to your program’s page on the International Education website and Cash Passport.
- Make weekly and daily budgets and stick to them. Adjust up or down in light of initial experience upon arrival.
- Quickly learn the value of the local money in relation to the U.S. dollar.
- Be alert to discounts and use student discounts with your student ID or the ISIC card.
- Take advantage of less expensive alternatives whenever possible. Cook meals (especially breakfast) and use student cafeterias, saving restaurants for special occasions.
- Plan entertainment and recreation around the availability of free, inexpensive and discounted events — on campus or in the surrounding community.
- Shop in street markets or major chain supermarkets, which are less expensive than convenience stores.
- When traveling, stay in hostels or in modest bed-and breakfast accommodations as opposed to hotels that cater to tourists and business travelers.
Bank cards and credit cards
Prior to departure, contact your bank to identify the international ATM networks that offer the lowest transaction fees for cash withdrawals abroad. Some large banks with international relationships offer no fees at certain ATMs. You should also inform your bank and any credit card companies of your upcoming travel plans. Give them details of your host country and any other countries that you might visit, as well as the length of time you will be out of the country. This should prevent holds from being placed on your account due to suspected theft or fraud. Make sure to note the daily maximum withdrawal limit.
The following website provides a useful tool for converting currencies from all over the world.
Please feel free to use this helpful budget template when planning your semester budget. Formulas have been entered in many of the cells to make your calculations easier.
Health and Safety Questions
The Office of International Education provides students with the resources and tools they need to prepare for a healthy and safe term abroad. Because there are inherent risks in international travel, the university cannot guarantee student safety abroad. Although Bentley takes every reasonable precaution to enhance the safety of its students, individual students must take primary responsibility to maintain their health and minimize their risky behavior. All students are required to sign an enrollment contract and waiver of liability to enroll in a study abroad program.
Bentley 24 Hour Emergency Contact
The Bentley University Police dispatcher will page an International Education staff member for further assistance. Provide a phone number for call back and as much detail as possible about the emergency situation. In the event of a student emergency, political crisis, or natural disaster, International Education staff will be in close contact with relevant students, on-site colleagues, parents/guardians, medical and security insurance providers, and/or US Embassies and Consulates as necessary.
Contact your insurance plan's 24/7 emergency assistance service
For many Bentley students abroad, the insurance provider is Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI) which provides 24-7 emergency assistance to Bentley Students through AXA ASSISTANCE:
Call collect from anywhere outside the U.S.: +1.312.935.1703
Call toll free within the U.S.: 855.327.1411
The Bentley policy number is: GLMN04965140
For Bentley students on programs sponsored by Alliance for Global Education, API, CIEE, IES, or Semester at Sea, contact the program sponsor directly or the relevant emergency assistance provider.
Contact the U.S. Office of Overseas Citizen Services
Consular personnel are available 24/7 at embassies and consulates abroad:
Call from outside the U.S and Canada: +1.202.501.4444
Call toll free within the U.S and Canada: 888.407.4747
Massachusetts law requires all students to have a U.S. health insurance plan while enrolled at Bentley. You must maintain this primary insurance throughout the term abroad, whether it is a private plan or the Bentley plan. If you normally waive the Bentley insurance plan you should continue to waive it for your term abroad.
Study abroad students will be automatically enrolled in a mandatory international insurance plan that provides coverage essential for international travelers. For many Bentley students, the international plan is provided by Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI). Refer to the CISI Coverage Brochure for details of plan benefits. For Bentley students enrolled in programs sponsored by Alliance for Global Education, API, CIEE, IES, or Semester at Sea, the sponsoring organization provides a comparable insurance plan.
Plans are valid during official program dates only and outside of the United States only. If you plan to travel before the program begins or after it concludes, you should contact the provider directly to purchase extended coverage. Plans include medical care for illnesses, accidents, and emergencies. Plans also provide emergency medical evacuation, accidental death and dismemberment coverage, and repatriation coverage, among other benefits. Plans can be used for doctor and hospital visits as well as 24 hour emergency assistance over the phone from anywhere in the world.
While students are studying abroad, the same Title IX guidelines that inform employees of the university of their duty to report information on sexual violence and student misconduct are in place. Students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the resources and staff members who are in a position to provide assistance and to take note of the different responsibilities towards student confidentiality that confidential employees, limited reporters, responsible employees, and responders have.
A study abroad experience, while extremely rewarding, can often bring health challenges as you adjust to new schedules, routines, eating habits, and cultural norms. It is important to prepare to manage your health prior to departure and throughout your experience abroad. Remember that studying abroad will be stressful both physically and mentally. A healthy mind and body are essential for a successful education abroad experience. Please read the following points carefully to prepare yourself for any health issues that may emerge while you are abroad.
Honestly assess your health and discuss your travel plans with your primary care doctor. Ask your doctor to complete the required Physician's Report. Your examination must take place within twelve months of the start of your program. Bentley's Center for Health and Wellness lists area clinics in the case that it is impossible to see your primary doctor.
If you are experiencing or have experienced physical or emotional problems, please carefully consider your readiness for an international experience. If you are experiencing emotional, eating or substance abuse problems, strongly consider deferring your participation in a program until you have the concern well under control. If you do intend to participate in the program while managing a health issue, speak with your doctor or counselor well in advance of departure to devise a plan for your ongoing care.
When feasible, bring an adequate supply of medication to last the full term abroad. Do not ship medications as they are likely to be held up in customs for an extended period of time or not arrive at all. Bring medications in their original labeled containers along with copies of prescriptions. Know the generic names of all medications.
Students with apparent or non-apparent disabilities will likely need to take special measures when planning a study abroad experience. Appropriate accommodations and facilities may not be available in all locations, so discuss your needs with your study abroad advisor as far in advance as possible. Your study abroad advisor and Bentley's coordinator of disability services will work together to assist you. Mobility International is a valuable resource for students with disabilities.
The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service provided by the U.S. government to U.S. citizens traveling abroad. STEP allows Americans abroad to receive updates from the nearest embassy or consulate and allows the Department of State to better assist you in an emergency.
- Use alcohol wisely and never use illegal drugs. Impaired judgment puts you at increased risk for accident, injury, and crime.
- Do not walk alone at night.
- Be aware of local laws and act in a responsible manner.
- Never leave your belongings unattended.
- Do not store or carry your documents and money together in one place. Carry only the necessities to minimize chance for loss.
- Be aware of your surroundings
- Do not display money openly.
- Be inconspicuous in dress and demeanor. Be aware of belongings that might be perceived as valuable to thieves.
- Try speaking the local language, even with other study abroad students.
- Do not drive or hitchhike.
- Practice safe sex.
- Be wary of people who seem overly friendly or interested in you.
- Know your local 911 equivalent and other emergency contacts.
Always inform the on-site coordinator at the host institution and your family of your travel plans (destinations, itineraries, and how to contact you), even if it is just a weekend trip. This information is vital in case you need to be contacted in the event of an emergency. Needless to say, be certain to educate yourself about any destination you plan to visit prior to your departure.
- Make sure you always carry the emergency contact numbers for your on-site coordinator, the U.S. embassy/consulate, and the police.
- Stay informed of the current political situation in your host country by using the local media. Consult the U.S. Department of State travel advisories.
- Avoid potential target areas, especially bars, clubs, fast food restaurants, banks churches, embassies/consulates frequented by U.S. citizens.
- Stay away from areas known to have large concentrations of residents unfriendly to the United States.
- Stay out of political demonstrations. Resist the temptation to satisfy your curiosity and investigate what is happening. Go to a secure location and watch it on the news.
- Do not agree to newspaper, TV, or radio interviews regarding political conflicts or controversial issues. Remain inconspicuous.
Our office works closely with our partner institutions to provide a safe and welcoming environment for all of our students. While no part of the world is crime-free (including the U.S.), we prepare students for common safety issues during the orientation process at Bentley. We strive to make students aware of the resources which will prove helpful in the event of an emergency.
CISI is a required international insurance plan. It is not possible to opt out of CISI insurance. Please visit our Health and Safety page to learn more.
Students receive this handout about using CISI at their Pre-Departure Orientation meeting. Students who are enrolled in a similar insurance through their study abroad program provider will receive details on how to use their international insurance, although the process will be similar.
If your student has a chronic physical or psychological condition that requires on-going treatment, he or she should consult with their physician about the prospect of studying abroad. If your student is on medication, he or she should consult with their physician and insurance company to discuss the type of care they may need abroad and the best way to continue his or her regimen. Encourage your student to discuss these matters with his or her Education Abroad Advisor or another Bentley staff member.
All students experience some degree of culture shock while they are overseas, although many aren't able to recognize it as such until later. Common symptoms include homesickness, stress, frustration, and loneliness. These kinds of feelings are very typical, and they usually subside with time and effort. Although adjustment to differences in language, accommodations, social norms, academics, and more can be frustrating and challenging, it is exactly this type of adaptation process that makes an education abroad experience such a rewarding educational and independence-building endeavor. Reminding your student to expect such feelings before they leave and to approach situations with an open mind will help minimize the shock once they arrive.
It's also important to encourage your son or daughter to contact our office to discuss any last-minute questions they may have. Knowing the details will help students feel much more confident when they arrive in an unfamiliar place. That said, remind your son or daughter that they must be ready to deal with uncertainty and difference. Most students are bound to encounter some type of unforeseen obstacle along the way.
You can view a complete list of eligibility and evaluation criteria for programs abroad here.
Our programs abroad offer a wide variety of coursework, but it is important to understand that classes offered vary widely from one program to the next. Some programs are more focused on language and liberal arts, while others offer only business classes. With approval, students may take courses abroad that can count towards their major, minor, or LSM.
Grading procedures are not the same in all countries. In many programs, your student will not have on-going assessments, but rather will be assessed at the end of the semester (or year) in the form of a cumulative exam or paper. Please visit our Academic Policies section to learn more about how grades appear on the Bentley transcript.
The Office of International Education strives to accommodate every student. Please contact your Education Abroad Advisor to discuss specific needs.
Advising and Support Questions
We require all semester students to attend a mandatory general Pre-Departure Orientation during the semester prior to departure. At the Pre-Departure Orientation, we discuss topics such as health and safety, academic preparedness, and cultural adjustment. In addition, students attend a Program Meeting tailored to their specific study abroad program. Faculty members will conduct Pre-Departure Sessions for undergraduate faculty-led programs and GBEs.
On-site support services vary by program. Virtually all host universities provide an orientation for newly arrived students. These orientation programs may vary in length, ranging from a few hours, to a few days, up to a full week, and are meant to provide your student with an introduction to the institution, the culture, and the city in which they are located. The study abroad office at the host university is the first point of contact for students who need anything including university resources such as accommodations for a disability, counseling or health services, or simply where to buy a phone card.
Diversity Resources for Students Interested in Study Abroad
Bentley University believes that everyone should have equal access to study abroad and our office has a strong interest in increasing diversity amongst study abroad participants. Below are some study abroad resources for students of color, economically disadvantaged students, first generation students, racial and ethnic minorities, and women. We encourage students to review these resources and to work with us in identifying and preparing for potential challenges that students might experience before, during, and after studying abroad.
Study Abroad Resources for Students of Color
Michigan State University MultiCultural Resources
Diversity Abroad: Racial and Ethnic Minority Students Abroad
Study Abroad Resources for Economically Disadvantaged Students
Diversity Abroad: Economically Disadvantaged Students
Study Abroad Resources for First Generation Students
Diversity Abroad: First Generation Students
Study Abroad Resources for Women
Diversity Abroad: Women Abroad
There are many factors that LGBTQ students may need to take into consideration as they plan for an education abroad experience. Customs, attitudes, laws, and social practices relating to LGBTQ people vary throughout the world. The links below, as well as links on some of the program pages, provide a great deal of information about LGBTQ issues worldwide and can assist LGBTQ students throughout the education abroad experience. When used prudently, social networking websites can also be a useful tool for students in finding out information about the LGBTQ community in the host country and city. In addition to these resources, students can speak confidentially with an education abroad adviser to address questions or concerns regarding education abroad.
Students who identify as LGBTQ may want to consider this as one factor in selecting a program destination. How much a student's LGBTQ identity influences the program selection will vary from student to student. There is not one location that is better than another for LGBTQ students. It will depend on individual circumstances as well as host environments.
Questions to consider during the selection process include:
- Is it safe in the host country and host city to be out as LGBTQ?
- If the host country or city is not a welcoming environment, am I prepared to be closeted?
- Does my host institution have an LGBTQ student organization?
- What is the living situation on the program? Will I have a roommate? Will I be living in a homestay? Am I comfortable with that?
For students who are not out at Bentley or at home:
- Do I want to be more out while abroad than I am on campus or at home?
- Are there resources and social opportunities for me to begin to come out and engage with the LGBTQ community in the host country?
- Will there be a large group of Bentley students at this location? Will I feel comfortable exploring my LGBTQ identity abroad with them around?
Adapting to a new culture is one of the most rewarding yet challenging aspects of studying abroad. All aspects of a student's identity impact how he or she adapts and integrates into the local environment. Age, gender, race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation and identity, and many other factors will shape the experience of each student. LGBTQ students abroad may encounter new attitudes, ideas, and stereotypes about gender, sex and sexuality, LGBTQ relationships, and LGBTQ rights. Students may perceive these as both positive and negative. Some may be similar to sentiments back home and others may challenge long-held beliefs.
One of the best ways to learn about the new culture and combat culture shock is to engage with locals. LGBTQ students can get in touch with locals through LGBTQ student and community organizations. Most guide books have some information for LGBTQ travelers and will usually list the address of the local LGBTQ community centers. These centers and their websites will provide information about support services, community events, social activities, and health resources for the LGBTQ community.
A student who enters into a romantic relationship abroad should proceed slowly and cautiously, as he or she would at home. Students need to be very aware of differences in cultural cues, norms, and expectations. Students who choose to be sexually active should protect themselves, as they would at home. Sexually-transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, are a serious issue for all students, in any country.
Education abroad is a transformational experience for all students. It is often a time of increased independence, deeper self knowledge, and personal exploration. Education abroad often influences students to make significant changes in academic and career goals. Experiences abroad also impact students' perspectives on their personal lives and relationships. Many LGBTQ students start or move forward in the coming out process while abroad. This can be a very positive, yet challenging experience.
There are resources available to students in their host cities and at Bentley. LGBTQ student groups at host institutions and local LGBTQ groups in the host city offer students the opportunity to meet other LGBTQ people. They usually have a variety of social activities and may offer resources such as support groups. Students can also utilize the services of the the counseling office at their host institution. If the host institution does not have a counseling center, students may be able to find a professional through an LGBTQ group. Students can also contact staff in Counseling and Student Development at Bentley.
Leaving a host country and returning home is an emotional experience for all students. This transition can be even more emotionally charged for LGBTQ students. Students who chose not to be out while abroad may be very happy to return to an environment where they feel comfortable being out. Students who came out while abroad often face the difficult decision of whether to continue to be out upon return or to "go back into the closet" at home or on campus. Students are encouraged to reach out to resource people on campus, including staff in Counseling and Student Development.