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The International Office University of Edinburgh 57 George Square Edinburgh EH8 9JU


Study Abroad Handbook




Whether you have been offered a place in Europe through the Erasmus Programme, or further afield through the International Exchange Programme, a year abroad is a fantastic opportunity to see more of the world and experience new and exciting cultures. Study abroad will be a positive addition to your CV and, as a life experience, is unique.

The Partner University Application

We hope that this guide will help you before and during your study abroad period, so please read it carefully before you go, and take it with you.

emergency contacts card

The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in Scotland, with registration number SC005336.

Please find out and complete the relevant contact details indicated on this card, for your host country, and carry it with you at all times in case of emergency.

Once you have been offered an exchange place, this is usually provisional until you have successfully completed your host university's admission process. This will vary from country to country, and institution to institution. Application form Your host university will usually send you their application materials either by email or post. We will provide your host university with your university email address for any electronic correspondence. Application information sent by post may be sent to your home address or via the International Office. Some institutions will have their application information online, so please check their website (you can find relevant links by searching your host university on the International Office website: Other application documents Your host university may also request other supporting documents which should be included with, or forwarded as soon as possible after you have submitted your application. If your host university requires a transcript, this will be provided by the International Office. For students on the International Exchange Programme, a transcript will automatically be submitted with your application. For students on the Erasmus Programme, a transcript is not always necessary – if you require one, please request this in good time.

Most European institutions request a Learning Agreement indicating the courses you plan to take whilst on exchange. They will usually provide you with this form – if they request it but do not provide you with a form, please contact the International Office here at Edinburgh. Submitting your documents It is your responsibility to ensure that you submit your application and supporting documents in good time and do not miss any deadlines. If you miss your host’s deadlines, you may not be admitted. If you are not sure which documents you need, please contact the International Office. Please allow sufficient time to ensure all required documents are ready in a timely way. Try not to leave this until the last moment!! If you are required to submit photos, print your name on the back of each photo. We would also strongly recommend that you keep copies of all documentation that you submit, in case anything goes astray. Note: it is your responsibility to review your application for accuracy. If you do not complete your host uni application forms correctly, your admission and visa processing may be delayed or declined.





Letter of Acceptance Once your application to your host university has been submitted, you will usually receive a letter of acceptance (or similar confirmation by post or by email – this may also be called a ‘confirmation of enrolment’ or ‘letter of admission’). If you are going somewhere for which you need to obtain a visa, you will need a letter of acceptance in order to apply for this. If you have not received a confirmation letter or email by the time you leave Edinburgh for the summer (for Semester 1 students) or by Christmas (for Semester 2 students), please contact the International Office. The letter of acceptance does not necessarily mean that you are registered for courses. Some students can register for courses online before arriving, but many others can only do so once they arrive at their host university.

Withdrawal An exchange cannot be guaranteed until a partner has formally admitted a nominated student. Occasionally, a student application may be declined - for example, if a programme is cancelled or if a student is found not to be academically prepared for a particular programme at the host university. In very rare cases, a partner university may decline a student’s application even after he/she has been nominated by the University of Edinburgh. If this is the case, the International Office will do its best to accommodate the student at another partner institution.

Remember to take letter of acceptance on exchange

Withdrawing before departure If you need/decide to withdraw from your exchange prior to departure, you must notify the International Office and your Director of Studies/Erasmus Coordinator as soon as possible, preferably in writing (an email is fine), letting us know your name and your host university. The International Office will notify your host university of your withdrawal.

Academic disqualification Your acceptance on an exchange programme depends on the successful completion of your year’s work during the year before you go on exchange. If you fail to get into Honours, or fail any core courses during the year before you go away, you may not be eligible to participate in your exchange.

Withdrawing after arrival If you need/decide to withdraw from your exchange after arrival at your host university, you must notify the International Office, your Director of Studies/Erasmus Coordinator, and your host university immediately.

If you fail courses during the year before your exchange, you should speak to your Director of Studies/Erasmus Coordinator to find out whether you will still be eligible.

If you wish to return to Edinburgh to resume your year, you will need to contact your Director of Studies as soon as possible to find out whether this will be possible. If you have missed more than a week or two of term, it may not be possible for you to return to Edinburgh for the remainder of the year. If you are receiving financial assistance (such as a scholarship or Erasmus grant), you will be required to return any money advanced to you.





Preparing Important Documents

Housing Arrangements Housing arrangements vary enormously around the world. Many institutions offer accommodation in student halls or residences, on or off campus – the quality and cost of this accommodation will also vary widely from country to country so try to find out as much as you can about what is on offer. Accommodation may range from traditional oncampus residences to city apartments and homestays with local families. Information about accommodation will often be included in the host university’s information package or notes sent to you after nomination. You may also find information on your host university’s webpages or in the feedback forms submitted by former Edinburgh exchange students.

Some universities do not offer housing and expect you to find your own accommodation in the private market. In this case, we advise you to begin researching your accommodation options as early as possible. Many universities have an off-campus housing office where they offer help and advice on finding private accommodation. Others have housing forums that you can log onto from their web pages. If possible it can be helpful to visit your host university during the summer in order to try to secure accommodation before the start of term – this is particularly true in larger European cities which often experience accommodation shortages. Make sure that you have enough money to cover deposits, that you get a receipt for any money that you hand over, and that you fully understand any contracts you sign.

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You must ensure that you have prepared all the necessary documentation for your exchange, prior to departure. The instructions in the following sections will help you get started. We recommend that you apply for these documents early in case of delays. Passport A passport is required for travel outside of the EU (and within the EU, unless you have an alternative ID such as a residence permit). It will also be a required document if you need to apply for a student visa or study permit. In some cases, partner universities will request a photocopy of your passport as part of the application process. Make sure that your passport will still be valid for a minimum of 6 months at the date of your return to the UK. Make a note of its number, date and place of issue. Write the full details of your next of kin in your passport. It is a good idea to have another means of ID with you (preferably with photograph), as a back-up.

Birth certificate Some countries (eg France) may require birth certificates in order to issue local documentation. Check with your host country’s embassy or consulate as to whether you need one. Visas Visas are only required by students studying outside of Europe, or by non-EU students who plan to go on exchange within Europe. UK and EU citizens do not need visas to study at institutions within the EU or EEA (European Economic Area – Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein). EU citizens going to the EU can, therefore, ignore the rest of this section. Please be aware that International Office staff are not qualified to offer consultations or in-depth advice regarding visa applications. Immigration laws are complex and subject to frequent changes – therefore, if you have questions about the process of applying for your visa, you should contact the appropriate Embassy directly. Any student who is not travelling on a British passport should make enquiries about the visa regulations and procedures as pertaining to citizens of their home country. It is your responsibility to ensure that you do everything possible to meet all your visa requirements in good time.




Student visa A student visa or study permit is a document issued by your host country granting you entry as a student. To obtain a student visa: 1. Research your host country’s visa requirements. Not all countries require a student visa and the requirements differ according to your own country of citizenship. Some countries will not allow you to apply for your visa until 3 months before your departure date. 2. Gain admission to your partner university. Once you receive your formal letter of acceptance, submit it with your visa application to the appropriate office and keep a copy for your records. Processing times may be several months. (Note: for some partner universities, you have to submit your visa application with your application for admission.)


Multiple-entry visa If you plan to travel outside your host country during your exchange, you should make sure that your student visa is a multiple entry visa. Find out, before leaving Edinburgh, about the visa requirements for other countries you intend to visit. Work visa If you hope to work in your host country during or after your exchange, check with your host country’s consulate or embassy about your eligibility to work, and any related visa requirements. Many countries prohibit international students from working while on a student visa. In general it is not a good idea to assume that you will be successful in finding employment at your host destination. Far better to assume that you will not be able to find work and then any income that you derive from work you do find will be a bonus. Working conditions and conventions in your host country may be different from those in the UK. Do some research to find out how many days a week you may work and how many hours per day, and find out what the provisions are for time off, holidays, etc.

Dual citizenship If you have dual citizenship, make yourself aware of any potential issues regarding dual citizenship in your host country. If you travel with two passports, you could be subject to increased scrutiny by immigration and security officials. You could be questioned about missing entry or exit stamps, as well as your reason for having two travel documents. In some countries, possession of a second passport could result in its confiscation or a fine. You may even be prevented from leaving the country. If you are considered a citizen of another country, you may be obliged to do military service or pay particular taxes. If you do run into problems because of your dual citizenship, contact the nearest UK embassy, consulate or government office. Medical exam certificate Some countries require that you have a medical examination certificate before entry. You may even have to obtain one to support your host university application. Make sure to consult with your host country’s embassy regarding this requirement.

Power of attorney You may wish to assign power of attorney to someone you trust so that while you are away, they can act on your behalf for such things as: • Signing your student loan documents • Acting on your behalf with your bank





Making your travel plans Travel arrangements How you get to your host destination is up to you. The International Office does not recommend that you buy tickets for travel before you have received your letter of acceptance, and your visa (if you require one). Before deciding on your travel dates, check your host university’s academic term dates to find out if you are expected to attend orientation sessions, language courses, or similar. Also check when you can gain access to your accommodation, and arrive a few days early, if possible, so that you have time to settle in before classes start. If you can afford it, you may wish to purchase a flexible ticket. This will make it easier for you to accommodate any changes in plan. Once you buy your ticket, check that all the details on it are correct. However you travel, we would recommend purchasing an International Student Identity Card (ISIC) in order that you can take advantage of any student discounts. The ISIC is widely accepted as proof of student status. This card costs around £9 and entitles you to discounts on a wide range of products and services, including air, bus and train travel, student restaurants, cinemas, theatres, concert venues, shops, museums and travel agencies. More information is online: Your Local Education Authority (LEA) or the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) may be able to provide some financial support towards the cost of your travel, particularly if your study abroad period is a compulsory part of your degree (ie. you are required to spend a period abroad).

Baggage restrictions Some airlines limit passengers to 20 kg of luggage and some countries restrict the kinds of goods you can bring in. Find out how much your airline charges for excess baggage if you intend to take more than 20 kg of baggage. You may want to compare this amount to the cost of shipping items to your host country. Remember that you will have to get your luggage from the airport to your destination, and back at the end of the year! Duty and customs Generally, you may take personal computers, cameras, MP3 players, CD players, radios and other similar items duty free, provided that they accompany you and that you declare them at the time of entry. But please ensure all valuable items of luggage are covered by insurance. Electrical appliances Find out the voltage and the electrical outlet prong combinations used in your destination country. You may need to buy a transformer and adapter plugs in advance to be able to use your own appliances in another country. Travel irons, shavers, blow dryers, and many laptop computers are available with built-in adapters for all electrical currents.

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Driving abroad Driving is permitted on a valid UK licence in EEA (European Economic Area) countries. You will need to be fully insured. If you plan to drive outside of the EEA, you will need to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP). An IDP allows you to drive in most countries outside the UK, but double-check that it’s accepted in your host country. When using an IDP, you must also carry a valid driver’s licence from your usual place of residence. More information is available on the AA’s website: Remember that traffic laws and driving habits vary widely around the world. Be sure you know the rules before you get behind the wheel in another country. If you are taking your own car, make sure your insurance, MOT, etc. will cover the period you are abroad.





ACADEMIC MATTERS The International Office is not able to advise on academic matters, so if you have any questions about the academic requirements of your study abroad period, you should speak to your Director of Studies (if you are an International Exchange student), or to your academic Erasmus Coordinator (if you are an Erasmus student.)

Course Selection Academic systems can vary greatly around the world, and this can sometimes be a challenge when it comes to researching and choosing your courses. As an exchange student, however, you will normally have a wide selection of courses to choose from and, often, you will have the opportunity to take courses that are not offered at Edinburgh. Your host university’s course options will often be available on their website although many universities will not publish their course catalogues until a few weeks prior to the academic year starting, so you may need to make provisional course selections based on the previous year’s options.

Course Registration Meeting Edinburgh’s requirements It is vital that you have a clear idea of the number of credits required to pass the year, and if you make any changes to the courses indicated on your Student Release Contract (or to your credit load) once you arrive at your host university, it should be communicated to both your Director of Studies /Erasmus Coordinator, and the International Office. Finding appropriate courses that meet your degree requirements at Edinburgh is one of the key issues to consider when selecting courses at your host university. When selecting courses, consider the following:

Before departing on exchange, you will be expected to complete a Student Release Contract. If you are going away for Semester 1, the contract must be completed and approved before you leave Edinburgh for the summer. If you are going away for Semester 2, you should complete this before the Christmas break. You should attempt to include on this form details of your intended programme of study. If you are intending to undertake a research project or work placement whilst abroad, information about this must be noted on your Student Release Contract and approved by the appropriate signatories. You should keep a copy of your Student Release Contract for your own records and reference.

1. Are there any courses that I have to take to meet my degree requirements at Edinburgh? 2. Am I expected to take courses at a particular level? 3. How many credits am I required to attain whilst on exchange? Academic advice If you have any specific questions regarding your degree programme requirements or about choosing the right courses to satisfy those requirements, you should speak to your Director of Studies or academic Erasmus Coordinator. You should ensure that you go prepared with as much information as possible about the courses on offer at a partner university (ie. content of course, length of course, amount of credit awarded).

The course registration process can vary widely from one university to another. Some universities may have an online registration system and expect you to enrol for classes before you arrive. Others will not allow you to register until you are physically at the host university. Your host university, once you have been nominated, will normally send you official information regarding their course registration procedures. To find out what previous exchange students going to your host university did, with regard to registration, we suggest that you read the feedback questionnaires of students who have studied there on exchange in past years. You may sometimes find, on arrival, that courses you wanted to take are full or have restrictions on them. In such cases, it is often worth going to talk to the course organiser or department to see if there is any way that they can fit you in. You should ensure that you have some backup choices in case you cannot get onto your first choice of courses.

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Study plans Many universities require that students submit a proposed study plan, or learning agreement, as part of the application process, and in some cases, this plan is what is used to register you on courses. Erasmus students are required to complete a learning agreement or similar. If this is required by your host university, it will usually be provided by the host university. The International Office at Edinburgh provides a similar form, the Confirmation of Course Registration form, which can be downloaded from the Exchanges website, All Erasmus students must complete this form on arrival, immediately after registering for courses, and return it to Edinburgh as soon as possible. It must be signed by the student and an academic tutor, or similar, at the host university. It will then be sent to the student’s Erasmus Coordinator for approval. Making changes to your programme of study Any changes to your study plan must be approved by your Director of Studies, Erasmus Coordinator or Supervisor at Edinburgh.





Transferring Credit It is vital that you know how many credits you are expected to achieve whilst on exchange. Note that you must obtain a ‘pass’ grade in order to receive credit for a course. Most European institutions use the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS), awarding credits which are comparable and equivalent throughout Europe. A typical annual courseload at Edinburgh of 120 Edinburgh credits is equivalent to 60 ECTS credits. For students going elsewhere around the world, you should check the International Office’s Guidance Notes for your host university to find out how many courses/credits you are expected to obtain. The majority of students will receive credit for the work successfully completed at the host institution. The grades you receive during your study abroad period will not be converted into Edinburgh equivalents and used in the determination of your final degree classification. For most students, your degree classification will be awarded only on the basis of work completed whilst at the University of Edinburgh. For a minority of students (eg. Modern Languages students), grades obtained whilst studying abroad may be counted towards your final degree classification. Make sure you know before you go away how your School will assess your work abroad.

Academic difficulties Should you have any academic difficulties that might prevent the satisfactory completion of your exchange period, you should contact the International Office and your Director of Studies/Erasmus Coordinator as soon as possible. What constitutes a full workload may vary from institution to institution and country to country. If you feel that your workload is not appropriate or manageable, make sure that you contact your Director of Studies/Erasmus Coordinator to discuss whether there is any leeway for flexibility. You are responsible for keeping a complete record of what you have studied at the host institution, including copies of all written work and any feedback you receive from tutors regarding your academic progress. Failing the year Failure to pass the year abroad will usually result in failure to progress into your subsequent year back at Edinburgh.


Returning to Edinburgh

It is your responsibility to ensure that your academic transcript will be sent to the International Office at the end of your study abroad period. Transcripts must list all courses completed, along with the grades and credits assigned by your host university. You will not normally receive credit for any courses that you have failed at your host university.

Make sure you know what arrangements need to be made for your returning to Edinburgh after your exchange year. Your School should be able to advise on course options, or other academic requirements. Contact them well before the end of your year abroad, if they have not already been in touch with you.

Some institutions will automatically mail Edinburgh a copy of your transcript after your period of study abroad. However, other institutions will require you to request or order your transcript, or may send it directly to you. Others may require you to submit your individual marks in order to obtain an official transcript. Please ensure that the International Office receives a copy of your transcript by the beginning of the September following the end of your exchange period. If you anticipate applying for postgraduate study in the future, you may wish to order extra transcripts from your host university. Find out if and how you can order more original transcripts, how much this will cost, and how long you will be kept on your host university’s system – your transcript may not be on file indefinitely.

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MONEY MATTERS It is important to begin planning the financial aspects of your exchange as early as possible. Before you go, make sure you have enough of the local currency with you to cover emergencies and to last you until you have access to bank facilities.

Tuition fees When on exchange, no tuition fees are ever paid to the host university. Tuition fees at Edinburgh for your year abroad may vary depending on what kind of exchange you are undertaking, for how long (and possibly, whether a period of study abroad is a compulsory part of your degree). Students who are required to pay their Edinburgh fees should make arrangements to pay their tuition fees with the Student Fees section of Registry before they leave. Contact details can be found here: Additional funding from your LEA Exchange students are sometimes entitled to extra funding from their Local Education Authority. It is worth contacting your LEA to find out if you can apply for any extra funding towards travel or other expenses. What is available may vary dramatically depending on your LEA, and some may not be able to provide anything. Student loans Students who study abroad (where the work will be credited to their Edinburgh degrees) are still entitled to their student loans, and possibly to a higher loan for the year they are away. Ensure that you complete and return all the paperwork your LEA or Student Loan Company requires of you. Any delays on your part could hold up your payments. Remember that you will need to make arrangements for your loan to be paid directly into a bank account or be sent to your parents’ address or another suitable alternative.

You should expect to receive a payment schedule outlining the dates when your instalments will be paid. If you submitted your paperwork in good time but don’t receive a payment schedule, then contact the Student Loans Company to check that they have everything they need. If you have any problems in receiving your student loan, you should contact the Student Loans Company in the first instance. They should be able to tell you what the problem is and why you have not received your payment. The most common problems are that students have not provided bank details, have provided incorrect details, or haven’t completed the Loan Request Form. The Student Loans Company will not usually speak to third parties (eg. your parents, or the International Office) – for reasons of data protection, they will only discuss loan applications directly with the applicant. Contact details for Student Loans Company: Address: 100 Bothwell Street, Glasgow, G2 7JD Tel: +44 (0)800 40 50 10 (Mon – Fri 9am – 5.30pm) Fax: +44 (0)141 306 2005

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Erasmus grants The Erasmus grant is intended as a contribution to assist with the extra costs of studying abroad. All UK and EU nationals (who have not been in receipt of an Erasmus grant in the past) are eligible to apply for the Erasmus grant. Students from non-EU countries are also eligible if their country participates in Erasmus. It is not a loan, and therefore, presuming you meet the conditions of the grant, is not repayable.* Neither is it means-tested.

Language course fees For students studying in another language, language courses are sometimes included as part of the exchange programme – these are often free, or at least subsidised. Students going on Erasmus exchanges, who are not studying a language as part of their degree programme at Edinburgh, may apply for funding towards the cost of a language course either in the UK or at the host university, immediately prior to their exchange period.

It is usually paid in two instalments. Students going on exchange for the full academic year or for Semester 1 only will usually receive their first allocation in October / November and their second in April. Students going away for Semester 2 only will usually receive their allocations in Januar y / February and April. The first allocation normally accounts for 60-70% of the total grant available with the second allocation providing the remaining 30-40%.

Funding is provided in the form of reimbursement for courses taken, on submission to the International Office at Edinburgh of all original receipts and a certificate/letter proving your attendance on the course.

The International Office cannot advise on how much funding students will receive until the summer before the exchange period (for the first allocation) and usually March (for the second allocation). Erasmus students going to Switzerland (which is not in the EU and is not formally part of the Erasmus programme) will not receive an Erasmus grant from Edinburgh but will be eligible to apply, through their host university, for a grant from the Swiss authorities. Full details about the Erasmus grant and how to apply for it are on the International Office’s Exchanges webpages:

*If you withdraw early from your host university, please note that you will be required to repay your Erasmus grant.

Alternatively, if you are an Erasmus student and are going to a country whose language is not widely spoken or taught abroad, there may be an Erasmus Intensive Language course (EILC) offered in your host country. These are free, although you have to pay for accommodation and meals, and normally last for between 3 and 8 weeks, in the weeks prior to your exchange period. Orientation programmes As above, some universities may offer free orientation programmes for exchange students, others may charge a fee. Unfortunately, there is no support available through the International Office to assist with these fees.






Safety While Travelling Other costs You are responsible for all costs during your year abroad and should budget for the following: • Room and board • Books and supplies • Insurance costs • Travel to and from the host country • Local transportation

You may consider internet banking as a good way to control your money from anywhere in the world. Your local branch will be able to advise on how to set this up. It is often useful to find out what previous students to your host destination would recommend. Not all banks will accept you as a customer, and you are unlikely to have overdraft facilities on a foreign bank account.

• All personal expenses Banking Make an appointment with your bank before you leave on exchange and inform them of your plans, the timing of events, and your individual needs. Look for answers to the following questions: • Does your bank have a branch or an affiliation with another bank in your host country? • What is the most convenient bank to use in the partner country for transferring funds? How much does it cost to wire money to transfer funds? • If you plan to set up a bank account abroad, should you transfer money between your UK and account abroad in pounds sterling, or is it better/cheaper to exchange the money into another currency in the UK before transferring it? • What are the terms for cash advances on your credit card? • How do you replace debit or credit cards whilst away? • What is the best way to communicate with your bank whilst away?

Ask your bank at home to provide a letter of introduction, if you are considering opening an account abroad. This is a standard letter and may be helpful in enabling you to open an account in your host country. Several UK banks and building societies offer student accounts where overseas transactions are free of charge. We would recommend these to students who intend to continue using their UK account whilst abroad. At the time of print, both Halifax and Nationwide offered these accounts. Useful documents to take with you when opening a bank account are: • Birth certificate • Copies of your passport • Passport photos Credit/debit cards Check the expiry date on your credit/debit cards and make a separate note of their numbers. Be cautious when using your credit/debit card and destroy your slips before disposing of them. Inform your credit card company/bank of your travel plans and be sure to get their contact information for the country you’ll be studying in.

Study abroad is an incredible opportunity, and we want you to make the most of your experience. Most students don’t encounter any safety issues whilst on exchange, but it is a good idea to pay careful attention to any advice given and to discuss safety precautions with local students on arrival. It is better to be over-cautious in the first few weeks until you get to know your new environment. Make sure you are aware of emergency numbers (the equivalent of 999 in the UK) in your host country. Contact details The International Office at Edinburgh is open from Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm GMT. Tel: +44 (0)131 650 4296 Email: Outside office hours, you can call the university’s 24 hour emergency phone line: +44 (0)131 650 2257 Registration abroad When you arrive, you should register with the local authorities – this will give you access to the local welfare services, after a short period of time. You should also register with the local British Embassy/High Commission/Consulate – this will help the Consulate keep in touch with you if you get into difficulties, or in the case of an emergency abroad.

Consular assistance Your local British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate will be able to offer a range of services including the following: • Issue replacement passports • Provide information about transferring funds • Provide appropriate help if you have suffered a serious assault, are a victim of other crime, or are in hospital • Contact family or friends on your behalf Find out where the nearest British Consulate in your host city will be and keep a note of their telephone number. Working hours may vary, so it is better to phone ahead if you need assistance, to find out when someone will be available. Most British Consulates operate an answerphone service outside office hours, giving working hours and an emergency number for other times. For more details visit: Travel tips and advice • Buy a local map before you arrive to allow you to get acquainted with the town/city/region and so you know where you’re going when you arrive. Read about where you are going in guide books such as the Rough Guide or Lonely Planet. • The less conspicuous you look, the less interest you will be likely to attract from unwelcome quarters, so do not make it obvious that you are a foreigner. Perhaps you could consult your map in a shop or café, rather than looking lost in a back street.




• Certain behaviour can also leave you vulnerable. For instance, getting completely drunk can attract unnecessary attention. If someone in your company is in a bad condition, do make sure that they get home safely. • Avoid wandering aimlessly, or going into areas of town which are known to be dangerous, especially after dark. • Do not carry large amounts of cash or valuables on your person. Try to divide up what you do carry on you. A money belt or wallet that fits inside your clothing is a better place to hide valuables and documents. • Do not try and retaliate should someone try to mug you; your personal safety is more important than any amount of money you may have on you. • If you are finding your own accommodation, talk to other students in the same areas that you are looking at and who have been through the same process. For safety, take someone with you when you go flat hunting. Also have an idea of what the going rate is in the area to avoid being overcharged. • Hitchhiking is not advisable as a method of transport, and in some countries is illegal. • Beware of taking taxis from unlicensed operators. • Speak to a local or the host accommodation office about where the less salubrious places are in the area.


Theft You are responsible for your own property. There are a few things you can do to safeguard your things from damage or theft: • Lock your room or residence and secure your money, travellers’ cheques, jewellery, passport, and other possessions in a safe place. • Obtain an insurance policy for your possessions before you go. • Avoid carrying valuables, wearing expensive clothing or jewellery, or going to insalubrious parts of the city, especially at night or when alone. • Be cautious when inviting casual acquaintances into your home. • Make sure you keep photocopies of all your important documents on you, just in case. • If possible try to always have a back up ATM card that you can leave in a safe place. This can be used whilst waiting for replacement cards which can often take several days to reach you. • Keep a note of emergency numbers for your bank and credit cards so that you can cancel them if they are lost or stolen.

Crisis prevention • Keep your family, your host university, and the International Office informed of where you are living. Tell family and friends where you are going and make sure they and you have contact details – contact them if trouble flares up. • Always make sure that you have access to some money; if something does go wrong, it will help you cope with most situations. • Take a First Aid kit with you – you can buy these, ready made, from chemists.






CULTURAL ADJUSTMENT Preparing for your new environment

Health and insurance Obtain adequate and comprehensive health and travel insurance and check that it covers all the activities you plan to undertake. Many countries (eg. Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore) and some partner universities now have mandatory health insurance policies for exchange students. You will therefore not have a choice of insurance policies if this is the case. Although this will cover you for basic health insurance, it will not cover you for medical emergencies that may result in the need to repatriate you to your home country, so please check all policies carefully and make sure that you are properly insured. In addition to health insurance, you should take out travel insurance to cover yourself for delays, cancellations, or loss of money or belongings whilst getting to and from your host institution. If you’re travelling within the EEA (European Economic Area) or Switzerland, you should also obtain an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card), which will entitle you to reduced cost or free emergency health care in your host country. You can get this from the Post Office or online at:

Vaccinations Check what vaccinations you need with your GP at least 6 weeks before travel. Make sure you have had all necessary vaccinations, not only for the country you will be studying in, but for any other countries you plan to visit during holidays. Some vaccinations require a series of shots over a number of weeks, so make sure you give yourself enough time to complete the series before you go away. Prescriptions If you take medication regularly, you should take an adequate supply if possible, provided they are not perishable. It is also a good idea to get a letter from your doctor explaining what your medication is, in case you get stopped at Customs. Be sure to get translated copies of any important health documentation you may have. Health awareness Find out where the nearest local hospital, and nearest A&E are to where you live and study. Also make sure you know the local emergency phone numbers. Register with a doctor as soon as possible after arrival. Have a dental/eye check-up before you go. Domestic safety • Check the electric/gas/water connections, etc. where you are living. If they look suspect, call someone in to examine them. • Fit a smoke alarm. They can save your life and for a small price you will have peace of mind.

Organise healt insurance befo h and travel re going on e xchange

Living abroad is not the same as going on holiday. The excitement of your new surroundings can fade once you have settled in and made the transition from tourist to resident. To succeed in your new environment, you will need to have a sense of humour, be resourceful, determined, tolerant, and willing to make and learn from your mistakes! Know your host country and host university The more you know about what to expect in your host country, the easier you will find it to settle in. Get a good guidebook and get to know your destination. Find out about local laws and customs and follow them on arrival. We encourage you to find out as much as possible about your host country’s customs, culture, social norms and issues, geography, history, etc. Dress code Take appropriate clothes for your destination. Consider year-round climate, national customs, social functions and baggage restrictions. Some religious sites may require that arms, legs, or heads be covered.

Representing the University of Edinburgh While on exchange at a partner university, you will be an ambassador for the University of Edinburgh and should conduct yourself in a responsible manner appropriate to your host university and country. You must abide by Edinburgh’s and your partner’s rules and regulations as well as the local laws. Remember that different countries have different laws with respect to traffic, legal age and civil law. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse.





Adjusting to a new place Orientation Many partner universities offer an orientation programme before the academic year begins. We strongly recommend that you participate in these programmes – they are an excellent opportunity to meet other international students, learn more about the university’s services and ask any questions you may have. There may be a charge for the orientation programme that is not covered under the reciprocal exchange tuition fee waiver. Personal adjustment Adjusting to living in a new environment can be a challenging experience for even the most seasoned traveller. Laws, customs and gestures which you take for granted may no longer apply. Your values may be challenged or you may experience prejudice. You may no longer have the opportunity to converse in your native language. Culture shock is a normal reaction to being separated from a familiar environment so you should expect to experience some level of cultural adjustment at some stage. This may happen very early on in your study abroad period, or occur suddenly after some months. In most cases, getting over it is simply a matter of time.

The five typical stages of culture shock are: 1. The Honeymoon Stage – you feel very positive, curious, and anticipate new exciting experiences. 2. Irritability & Hostility – you may start to feel that what is different is actually inferior. The host culture is confusing or the systems are frustrating. It is a small step from saying that they do things in a different way to saying that they do things in a stupid way. You will often blame your frustrations and emotions on the new culture (and its shortcomings) rather than on the process of your adaptation to the new culture. It’s important to try to resist this impulse. 3. Gradual Adjustment – you feel more relaxed and develop a more balanced, objective view of your experience. 4. Adaptation of Biculturalism – there is a new sense of belonging and sensitivity to the host culture. 5. Re-entry Shock – you come home and it is not what you expected it to be. Some common feelings during cultural transitions include: • Homesickness • Loneliness and the desire to withdraw • Feelings of alienation • Fatigue

t c a t n o c e t a i t i n i Be willing rtsoation, and be and conve earning the culture open to l host country. of your

• Difficulty participating in conversation • Frustration and anger

Try to use the following strategies to combat culture shock: • Give yourself time to adapt and allow yourself to feel sad for a short time about things you miss. • Know yourself, your values, and your expectations. Recognise that the people you meet on exchange may not share your values or expectations. • Stay in touch with family and friends. • Talk to other international students or to staff in the International Office at your host university if you’re feeling frustrated or down. • Record and share your experience online through blogs and tools such as Facebook and MySpace. Try to remain objective about your experiences.

• Devote some energy to maintaining your sense of personal identity: subscribe to a publication from home, take some of your favourite music, and pack clothes that are suitable for the environment but also comfortably familiar. • If there is something you did at home to help relieve stress (ie. jogging, taking a bath) keep doing it! • Find ways to live with the things that don’t satisfy you 100%. • Don’t be too hard on yourself. New friends Making friends in a new culture can be daunting. • Take pictures of your life in the UK. • Take small gifts which are representative of or relate to the UK.

• Establish simple goals and celebrate your successes.

• Show sincere enthusiasm and interest in the culture.

• Focus on developing and maintaining a sense of humour, flexibility, tolerance, and a nonjudgemental attitude.

• Educate yourself so that you avoid making social faux pas that could make you seem rude or inconsiderate.

• Work to establish a new network of friends but remember that this takes time. • Try to minimise your isolation. Before you leave home, make arrangements to keep in touch with family and friends in order to try to curb any feelings of loneliness. • Join a club or become a volunteer. This is a great way of meeting local people and learning more about the local culture and language.

Don’t on cultu focus negativ ral diff ely erences.





Returning Home Getting support British students living abroad often naturally form bonds with other British people. Having a support network like this can be helpful in dealing with the challenges of living in a new country. It is important, however, to avoid expat syndrome, a situation in which a tightly knit group of expatriates feed on another’s negative attitudes and shut out the local culture. Dependence on your fellow Brits can diminish your experience and prevent you from getting the most out of your exchange.

Dealing with problems If you run into difficulties, you can seek help from a variety of sources. It is usually better to begin with your host university (ie. your personal tutor or supervisor, your local International or Study Abroad Office, Welfare Office, Accommodation Office, etc) they will know the local systems and environment and will be used to dealing with exchange students in your situation. If you are unable to resolve problems at your host university, contact the International Office at Edinburgh and we will do whatever we can to help.

Prior to returning home Make sure that you say goodbye to those you care about in the host country, exchange addresses, and thank those who have helped you during your stay. Do not leave any conflicts or issues unresolved. Bring back a few of your favourite things from your host country that will make the transition easier when you come home. If there is a special object you would like to take home as a souvenir, it is sometimes worth spending a little extra on postage for something you will keep for the rest of your life. When you arrive back home When returning home, some students are surprised to find they experience as much or even more culture shock as when they first began their exchange! You may find that your interests and values have changed, while those of your family and friends may not have. You may find that friends and family have new and different interests. You may even find that they aren’t as interested in hearing about your experiences as you are in telling about them! Acknowledge the re-entry phase as part of your overseas experience. Re-entry shock is real, so give yourself time to readjust to your home environment.

Keep in touch with the friends you made in the host country and find like-minded people back in the UK who have had similar experiences. Don't be surprised if everyday life back in the UK seems trivial, if you find that your goals and priorities have changed, if you find yourself experiencing 'reverse' homesickness, and if you feel negative emotions towards the UK – these are all common feelings associated with readjusting to life back at home.






Readjusting to life in Edinburgh Here are some suggestions for readjusting to student life back at Edinburgh: • Understand that your friendships and relationships may have changed as a result of your new experiences. • Explore new places and people with whom you can share your international experiences. Join an international club, take a language course, or register for courses where you can apply what you learned from your travel and academic experiences abroad. • Share your new knowledge through a journal, scrapbook, or photo collection. • Connect with international activities back at Edinburgh – join any of the internationally themed societies which exist to bring UK and international students together – check EUSA’s webpages for details: • Get involved with the International Students Centre (ISC). You can stay connected with your international experience by becoming part of this group – volunteer, attend events, or find out about becoming a member of the committee. Visit their webpages: • Join the Tandem Society:

Staying in touch after your programme Your stories and experiences can offer inside information for many students who would like to know more about going on exchange. The more people know about student exchange programmes and international learning, the easier it is to generate interest and support among students and Schools. Here are some ways to get the word out: • Write a letter to Student newspaper or Hype magazine. • Submit an article to the International Office – we will find a way to use it on our webpages. • Send any postcards or photographs to the International Office where we will display these for students visiting the office to see. • Participate in the International Office Photo and Essay Competition, with prizes for the top 3 entries in each category. We will send you reminders about this throughout the year. More information, including essays and photos from previous winners can be found on the International Office Exchange website. • Come along to the annual Exchanges Fair in October/November (one of the International Office’s Global Horizons events) and share your experiences with prospective outgoing exchange students.

International Office Exchanges webpages: Foreign & Commonwealth Office publications: FCO Locate University of Edinburgh Registry: (for registration queries): (for fees enquiries): International Association of Medical Assistance to Travellers: International Lesbian & Gay Association: International Student Identity Card (ISIC):






At Edinburgh University of Edinburgh International Office 57 George Square Edinburgh EH8 9JU Scotland, UK

TEL: +44 (0)131 650 4296 FAX: +44 (0)131 668 4565 EMAIL: EMERGENCY 24 HOUR PHONELINE: +44 (0)131 650 2257

My academic Erasmus Coordinator at Edinburgh CONTACT PERSON: EMAIL: TEL:

My Host University contacts

My Health Insurance COMPANY:


















Check Passport Validity Your passport should be valid for 6 months after your return. If you need to renew it, it can take at least 4 weeks to process here in the UK.

My Emergency contact at home NAME:


Visas Ensure you apply for your visa as soon as possible.



My Address on exchange

Email If you regularly use a web-based email account, let the International Office know this so we can send emails to this address as well as your university account.



Contact Addresses/Emails/ Telephone Numbers Take them with you so you know who to contact for different matters. LEA/Student Loans Will your LEA pay for flights/health insurance/visa application? Have you arranged for your student loan to be paid directly into your bank account, or a cheque to be sent to your parents? Insurance Have you obtained appropriate Health Insurance? Travel and property insurance is your responsibility – make sure you have adequate protection. Have you read and understood the small-print and arranged extra cover where necessary?

Credit Transfer Talk to your School before you go to ensure that you are clear about what you are expected to achieve, academically, whilst abroad and how the work you complete whilst away will be counted towards your degree. Healthcare Have you had a dental/eye check-up? Have you had all necessary vaccinations? Have you got all the prescription medication you will need whilst abroad, plus an explanatory letter for Customs officials? Copies of Documentation Have you made copies of your passport/ birth certificate/ driving licence (for ID)? Have you got several passport photos available? Annual Registration at the University of Edinburgh Students going abroad as part of their Edinburgh degree programme still need to remain registered at the University of Edinburgh. Have you completed this? For more details visit:


Exchanges Handbook  

For students of the University of Edinburgh taking part in overseas exchange programmes in 2011-12

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