Living Abroad

While abroad, some changes will be easy and others will be a challenging adjustment. 

To help you, you have support from the university abroad and SF State. Reach out if you are stressed. Go out and explore somewhere new instead of staying inside alone. SF State Abroad advisors are just an email or zoom call away. Visit the international office abroad as they are in the country and connect you with local resources and help you understand local approaches and cultural differences. 

Outside helpful resource is Expatica on Living Abroad.

Talk to your bank in the U.S. before leaving!

  • Call your bank and let them know what countries you will be staying/traveling in and dates (so they do not think it is fraud and cancel them).
  • Ask them about any international fees associated with using your cards abroad.
  • Find out if they have any "sister" or "partner" banks that will not charge you a withdrawal fee (you still have to pay an exchange rate and sometimes a fee).

Should you open a bank account abroad?

  • Maybe…it depends. 
    • Abroad for a year, yes.
    • A semester, maybe.
    • A summer, likely not.
  • What policies should I be aware of for opening an account? What banks are near my university abroad?
  • How and where will you access funds? (local bank, online transfers, wire money, ATM/credit cards)

Take money with you.

  • Bring cash in the local currency before you get on the plane.
  • Have enough foreign cash with you for the first couple of weeks.
    • Consider ordering it from a bank here.
    • You can get it at the airport, but not always the best exchange rate.
  • Is your host country more cash-based than credit card? Most are so what will your plan be for this. 

Be aware of the currency conversion rate.

Tip: Research what banks are near the campus. Get advice from alumni and international students about whether you should open an account abroad and at which bank.

Charles Schwab: Some students open Charles Schwab accounts because ATM withdrawal fees are refunded and students only pay exchange rates.

Even if your classes will be in English, it is highly recommended you learn the language of the country (if the local language is not English). This is help you better understand the culture and navigate your time abroad. 

While it is not always possible to take a class at SF State or at a community college prior to going, you can still learn a few phrases beforehand with free resources such as Duolingo, YouTube pages, as well as IEEC's language exchanges and language buddies. The more you learn before you go the better and you will thank yourself. 

Say "yes!" Try new things. Studying abroad is a fun time to make friends around the world and try new things. 

Some students take their time abroad to reinvent themselves while others may be more open about a part of themselves. 

Learn more from alumni

Don't forget about those who care about you at home, but also balance it so that you are not calling them every day. Make a plan of when and how often you will check-in with family and friends. 

Before going abroad, it is a good idea to look up the emergency number for your country, as it will likely not be 911. 

If it is not an emergency and you are unwell, reach out to the international office abroad about finding a doctor. Then, contact your study abroad insurance. 

Students participating on SF State Exchange Programs will work with SF State's Risk Management Office

CSU IP students should contact IP directly. Details can be found here

Enroll in the U.S. Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). The U.S. Embassy will not know that you are abroad unless you enroll in the STEP program. You want them to know where you are so they can give you updates about what is happening and to help you if necessary. 

U.S. Department of State's Before You Go information to help you learn more about your destination country. The US Department of State is also a great resource for basic facts about your host country from politics to history to culture.