9 Questions You Should Ask Your Program Advisor

We know that preparing to study abroad comes with a lot of questions. That’s why we provide a variety of ways for your questions about study abroad to be answered. Most questions that you have about your study abroad can be answered through documentation in your Gateway Account. Your Gateway Account is an account that every student receives when they apply to study abroad with USAC. Once accepted into a program, your Gateway becomes one of your main points of contact with the USAC staff.

Here are a list of common materials you can find in your Gateway Account. *Some students will have different documents based on their study abroad location

  • Academic Policy and Procedures
  • Arrival Guide – Pre-departure Information
  • Conduct Questionnaire
  • Credit Transfer Instructions
  • Credits, Courses & Transcripts
  • Disability/Health Accommodation Request Form
  • Financial Aid Deferment: Optional Form
  • Flight Guide
  • FAQ’s
  • Health & Disability Guide
  • Housing Guide
  • Insurance Information
  • Interactive Budget Sheet
  • Internship Opportunities & Application
  • Packing List
  • Passport Information
  • Program Agreement
  • Program Fees and Options
  • Scholarship Instruction Guides
  • Scholarship Application and Opportunities
  • Study Abroad Toolkit
  • Textbook & Pre-registration Information
  • Visa Guide

As you can see, we try and leave no stone unturned when it comes to answering your questions. But if you’ve gone through all our materials and you still have questions, that’s what our program advisors are for. Keep in mind that program advisors advise for thousands of students and are there to be a resource for specific questions you have regarding your program. Questions like what’s the weather? and how far away is Rome from Viterbo? can easily be answered by your friend and ours, Google.

It’s best to use your advisor for those questions that Google can’t answer. If the following questions arise (or anything else that you can’t find an answer to) feel free to reach out to your program advisor for the answer.

  1. Visa related questions beyond what’s explained in the guide

If anyone outside of a USAC staff member is suggesting you do not need a visa or provides tips on applying for a visa, it’s always best to check with your program advisor. Not only will they know whether you need a visa or not, but they’ll help you obtain one if you do need it.

  1. If you need help choosing what housing is best for you

Most programs will have multiple housing options, from apartments to homestays to dorm options. Talking to your program advisor can provide insight into the trends and students that choose each housing and can help you determine what will fit your needs.

They can also address dietary needs for homestays, make accommodations for special requests and so forth. It’s always better to ask your housing questions before you go rather than wait until you’re on site.

  1. Getting a list of past participants

Can you speak with an alumni before you study abroad? Yes! Every program has a list of past participants that are willing and eager to talk about their time abroad. Just ask your program advisor and they’ll send you some people to reach out to.

  1. Travel plans

If you are thinking about leaving early before your program, or you are participating in another program before/after your USAC one, it’s best to talk to your program advisor about your travel plans. This way they can assure that you’re on track to be in your host city on time to start the program.

  1. If you don’t have a passport

If you’re getting a passport for the first time when you study abroad, keep your advisor in the loop if you don’t have one yet, are in the process of applying for one, and when you are expecting to receive it. We have built relationships with the consulates around the country and can help assure your passport process is a smooth one.

  1. Questions/concerns related to your identity and studying abroad

If you’re studying abroad as a LGBTQIA student, first-gen, minority, heritage seeker, veteran, or have general questions about your identity and your study abroad, your program advisor is a great place to start. They can connect you with alumni to hear experience and tips, share resources, and help you prepare for your study abroad.

  1. Tips for easing parents’ fears

If your parents are nervous for you to study abroad, it’s totally normal. We just published a blog post on how to talk to your parents about study abroad, but if you need tips for further easing their fears, our program advisors can provide you with all the information you and they need.

  1. Information on volunteer, internship opportunities and cultural immersion

Every USAC program has opportunities for cultural immersion and most have options for internships and volunteering. If you know you want to get specific experience abroad, let your program advisor know to learn what is available to you.

  1. Course and academic expectations

USAC is an academic first provider. Many of our classes have an attendance requirement. In addition, we can pretty much guarantee that your classes abroad will be different than your classes back home. If you’re wondering what the academic expectations are or how the classroom environment will differ while you’re abroad, your program advisor can fill you in.

When it comes to preparing for study abroad, your Gateway Account and the internet are your best friends. And if you find yourself with a question that the provided materials don’t answer, feel free to reach out to our staff.