The answers to these Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are not meant to be comprehensive. Rest assured that GWC and the service provider will give you complete information, as some answers are program-specific.
1. What are the application requirements?
All Coast Community College District Study Abroad programs are open to anyone who is eligible to be accepted to a California community college. You do not need to be a current student at any of the three colleges within the Coast Community College District.
Unlike many four-year or private institutions, GWC does not have an application/essay/interview/minimum GPA/minimum number of earned credits process specifically for study abroad programs. It’s easy – you apply, you’re accepted on a first come, first served basis pending available space.
2. Will I need a passport? Will I need a visa? What about photos?
You will most definitely need a passport and you will need it at least nine months before departure as the service provider will normally request the passport number or a photocopy of the first two pages.
Visas are normally needed under one or both of the following situations: (1) if you are planning to remain in one country longer than 90 days; (2) if your citizenship requires a visa from the host country or countries.
Visas may be required for certain countries that in the past did not require visas for American citizens participating on short-term (e.g., summer) programs. The specific service provider will also assist you in determining if a visa is needed, and if so, which kind.
Please note that processing times for passports and visas has been seriously delayed, to the point of six months. For additional information, see the U.S. Department of State Passports page.
If you are obtaining a new passport or renewing a current passport, you will need photos.
3. What type of accommodations can I expect?
The type, and quality, of accommodations vary from program to program. For instance, some programs place students in hotels for the entire program. Other programs are arranged where you would be living with other students in an apartment, with some overnight hotel stays. Currently, there are no programs offered where you would stay with a family.
Some programs offer you the opportunity to request, and pay an additional amount, for a single room. Such rooms are normally based on availability, and are not guaranteed.
4. My friend and I want to go on the same program. May we live together?
Normally, yes. If you are of the same gender, you may request to be placed in the same accommodations.
5. Will the courses I take be marked as Study Abroad?
If you took Anthropology 100 and French 180, they will show on your records as just that, with the grades you earned. It would be exactly the same as if you had taken the courses on-site or through Distance Learning.
However, this is an excellent opportunity for you to indicate that you took these two classes as part of a Study Abroad program on your essay application to a four-year university or on a job résumé. Keep in mind that many employers prefer people who are willing to “think outside the box” and take chances; having participated on a Study Abroad program is often a good example of such thinking.
6. How do I help ensure the classes I take on a program will transfer to a four-year university?
Please speak with a GWC counselor about courses offered on study abroad programs regarding transferability.
7. Are there any prerequisites? I don’t speak any foreign languages.
There are usually no prerequisite requirements, except for foreign language courses. As far as being concerned about communicating with people in another country, we suggest that you at least learn the basics such as hello, goodbye, please, thank you, and sorry/excuse me/pardon me. Unless otherwise stated, all classes are taught in English.
8. How much money should I bring?
You may want to consider how much money you spend here, at home. Do you eat at restaurants many times per week? What about shopping? Take a look at your monthly budget, and use that as a guide.
Also be aware that accessing your money while overseas may be a bit different than what you are used to. Consult with your financial institution about having an ATM card with a four-digit PIN (personal identification number). You may want to also bring a credit card. We suggest you notify your financial institution and/or issuing credit card company that you’ll be using their card(s) overseas. Try to stash away about US$100 so that when you get back to the United States, you’ll have some cash for cab fare, lunch, etc.
Feedback from previous students who have participated on our programs indicates that traveler’s checks are not widely used, or accepted.
9. Will I have access to the internet so that I may check my email? What about cellphones?
Generally speaking, you’ll have access to the internet in your classes, cafes, and lodging to check your e-mail. But the questions are, will you have time and will you want to? As far as cell phones, purchasing a cell phone overseas is very reasonably priced. Alternatively, you can purchase a new SIM card that is compatible with your current cell phone. You may also contact your cell phone company for information on international rates.
10. How much do the programs cost?
Programs vary in price, ranging from $510 to $6,995. Some factors that may affect pricing are the number of people going (the more people, the cheaper it is per person), the time of year (off-season or high-season), the location (some countries are cheaper than others), the quality of accommodations (students living with other students in apartments tends to be cheaper than staying in hotels), and the length of the program (the longer the program, the cheaper it is on a per-day basis). Another factor is whether or not airfare is included in the program price.
11. What is not included in the program fees?
This varies by program, but generally speaking, fees associated with obtaining a passport and/or visa, personal expenses (food, clothing, etc.), tips, and porterage are not included. Depending on the program, airfare might not be included.
Program fees do not include the per unit enrollment fee, and other nominal fees.
12. I’m concerned about traveling overseas and then becoming ill. What do you suggest?
You may want to consult with your primary care physician, and your dentist, at least six months before departure. Your doctor may advise you about vaccinations based on where and when you’re going. If you need dental work, it’s far more pleasant to have this work done by someone you’re already familiar with. Plus, you won’t need to worry about being inconvenienced when you’re overseas. Having said that, you may want to also look at the Center for Disease Control’s and the World Health Organization’s websites for travel alerts. (See additional resources below.)