Predeparture and Return

As soon as you know you will be going abroad, you should apply for the required travel documents and begin other preparations. Successful planning to go abroad also includes planning for your return, particularly for those of you going away for a semester or a year. Anticipating your return may ease your transition back; thinking about how you can build on your experience abroad when you return (through independent study, additional language study, other courses, etc.) will help you better integrate your experience abroad with your remaining time at Mount Holyoke.

What to Know Before You Go: Handbook for Education Abroad
Confirming Your Plans
Address Notification/Forwarding Mail
Writing About Your Experience
Returning to Mount Holyoke: Welcome Back!
Program Evaluations
Going Abroad Again

What to Know Before You Go: Handbook for Education Abroad

This booklet includes key information about travel documents and resources, Mount Holyoke policies and requirements, health and safety, planning for your return, etc.

Note: You are responsible for reading the Handbook and following the policies and procedures that apply to you.

Please pay particular attention to the section on passports and visas. You are responsible for applying for a passport and for the appropriate visa in a timely way.

  • If you do not have a valid passport, apply for one as early as possible. Processing times have increased dramatically, and it may take several months to obtain a passport. Remember that you will need a valid passport before you can apply for a visa.
  • Visa requirements will vary depending on your citizenship, the country to which you are going, what you will be doing, and where you will be at the time you apply. It is your responsibility to find out what is required and to apply for a visa; Mount Holyoke cannot do this on your behalf.

Confirming Your Plans

  • If you will be studying abroad for a year or semester, you must submit the Study Abroad Notification Form (enclosed with your study abroad approval) to the McCulloch Center to confirm your plans. This form serves as your official notification to the College that you will (or will not) be taking your leave of absence. Deadlines: May 15 for the fall or full year, December 1 for the spring.
  • If you will be participating in a summer opportunity abroad coordinated by Mount Holyoke, you will receive information from the sponsoring department on campus about how to confirm your plans.

Address Notification/Forwarding Mail

  • Submit your overseas address using the address notification form in ISIS.  
  • If you wish to have first-class mail forwarded to you while you are away (whether for the summer, a semester, or a year), visit Mail Service's Forwarding and Redirecting  Mail online for more details.

Writing About Your Experience

Keeping a journal or otherwise writing about your experiences abroad is an excellent way of capturing memorable (and mundane!) moments, and of encouraging you to reflect upon your time in another culture. Consider submitting essays, photos, etc., to these national magazines, founded by and for students engaged in learning abroad: Abroad View and Glimpse.

Returning to Mount Holyoke: Welcome Back!

Comng back to Mount Holyoke, and returning home, represent another important transition in the learning abroad experience.  Whether you return with a renewed commitment to your original goals and plans, or with a dramatically new agenda, you likely will have changed in ways that you and your family and friends may not have anticipated.  For some students, particularly those who go abroad for a semester or a year, coming back requires as much of an adjustment as going abroad did.  Some students breeze right through this transition, others may find it quite disconcerting. The "Welcome Back" page describes the process of re-entry, has some practical information to help you with the transition back to campus, and includes resources to help you consider how to build on your experience abroad, what to do next, how to identify opportunities to go abroad again, etc. 

Program Evaluations

Every student must complete an evaluation of her experience. These evaluations provide you with a chance to reflect upon your time abroad, as well as to complete the advising cycle by passing along to other Mount Holyoke students the same kind of frank advice and information you relied upon in planning your time away.

  • If you study abroad for a year or semester, you will complete our on-line study abroad evaluation form.  Your evaluation is particularly important if you attended a program that is new to Mount Holyoke, as we will consider it in determining whether to approve the program in the future. The form is in ISIS, but not on the ISIS menu, so you must use the specific link to access the form.  Completed evaluations will be available in ISIS for other students and faculty to read, but will not be available to the general public.  If you prefer that your evaluation remain confidential (accessible only to the McCulloch Center), you can indicate that when you submit the form.   
  • If you participate in a summer opportunity abroad coordinated by Mount Holyoke, you will receive evaluation instructions from the sponsoring department on campus.

Special Note to International Students Attending Mount Holyoke on F-1 Visas:

I-20/Travel/Visas: Remember that if your time outside the U.S. will amount to five months or more, you will need a new I-20 to re-enter the U.S., even if your current I-20 still appears to be valid. If you will be away for less than five months, we can sign your old I-20; send it to us at least a couple of months before you expect to return. Contact Jenny Medina, Immigration Specialist, for assistance. Let Jenny know if you will need to apply for a new visa, as in this case she will include an additional letter of support.

Going Abroad Again

One of the most frequently-asked questions we hear from returning students is "How can I go back?" Take advantage of your time abroad to investigate opportunities for work or study. Working abroad, in particular, tends to be highly restricted, but you're in the best position while you're in the country to see what might be possible, talk with potential employers, and research the conditions under which you can work legally.