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Preparing to Study Abroad at MU

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This is a comprehensive list written by Palak Pahwa, Crosby MBA ’16, who traveled to Mizzou from India. You can read her original blog post here, or connect with an International Crosby MBA Ambassador here. Additionally, we recommend you utilize the experts at the University of Missouri International Center.

Prepare your travel paperwork well before time

This, I would say, is the most important part of your journey. It needs to be taken care of very carefully and well ahead of any deadlines. Making sure that all the documents, from the academic certificates and transcripts, to the professional and travel documents is extremely important for a hassle free journey, especially if you’re traveling for a longer period of time. This is because your paperwork could take weeks to receive.

Crosby MBA students gather to sample food from all over the world

Crosby MBA students and staff enjoy the semi-annual International Potluck.

So, you need to make sure that your passport is valid for at least the next two to three years and that you apply for the Student visa at least three to four months before your departure. You will need to visit the United State’s consulate for the visa interview, so make sure you plan the trip accordingly and allocate enough time for the trip.

You can see MU’s document shipping options here. The Crosby MBA Program requires a minimum TOEFL score. You can read more about special admissions instructions to the Crosby MBA Program for international students here. The International Center publishes information regarding travel document and port of entry here.

Get the required medical examinations

Another important part of the paperwork is medical certificates and records. The University of Missouri has specific medical and immunization requirements, which can be found here. Carefully go through all of these medical requirements, and make sure you get all the tests done well before you leave.

Also remember that you may not be able to get any medications without prescription or a valid medical certificate. So, if you have a medical condition that requires prescription drugs, you may want to bring enough with you to last your entire time abroad. You may also want to call the airline ahead of time and carry any medication in properly labelled containers to avoid them being misunderstood for drugs.

More information about the Student Health Center can be found here.

Plan your finances

Crosby MBA students at the Alumni Tailgate

Once you’re here, take part in American traditions such as Homecoming.

This was definitely the toughest and most strenuous part for me because I had never even gone to a bank before in my life.  This is the most important part of your journey, so make sure that you plan your budget extremely carefully, taking into consideration every aspect of your trip. Once you have considered every possible expense, add an extra $1,000 to $1,500 for emergencies.

The first important step is to figure out how you would take care of all the necessary finances, such as tuition, housing, travel, food, books and other miscellaneous needs. You might consider taking a student loan from the bank in your country, but do consider that every bank has separate policies on the amount that they can lend you and usually, the banks do not cover the entire tuition cost. You can find out more about the estimated expenses, financial documentation and funding your education on the International Center website. Note you may get additional funding from the Crosby MBA Program.

Next, make sure your current bank knows that you plan to be abroad so arrange for an international credit card that enables you to make purchase without any additional transaction costs. Most banks these days offer foreign travel cards that can be used very conveniently at any location without any additional charges. You will also want to carry some cash, just in case.

Read more about money and banking in the United States here.

Buy a plane ticket and start packing

If you have planned your visa application in advance, you will have more than enough time to figure out your travel plans and make arrangements. However, book your ticket only once you have received your visa. There might be cases where your visa gets delayed or rejected due to some unavoidable reasons. Also, many airlines verify your travel documents and your visa before they let you in, so you need to have your visa and passport ready when booking the ticket.

Booking your flight will take careful consideration. You may not want to book a continuous flight, as it can be exhausting. Sometimes, non-direct flights can be less expensive, so talk to your travel agent or the airlines directly for the best and least expensive options. Some airlines also offer student discounts and some have great baggage policies so go through all the policies before you book. Your credit card may have travel insurance, but, depending on the value of the things you’re traveling with, finding a good travel insurance option may be worth it.

Check here for more information about traveling to, from and within the United States.

In terms of packing, pack light and double check with the airlines for their baggage policies to make sure you are within the maximum baggage range they allow.

The most important things that you should carry are:

  • Medications
  • Spices – Columbia has a variety of specialty markets, but you may not be able to get all of the spices you use at home.
  • Cooking utensils that may be expensive to purchase here
  • Contact lenses and/or reading glasses
  • Adapters if you’re bringing non-US electronics
  • Photos, recipes, and other mementos for your homesick moments.
  • Clothes can be purchased at a variety of places in Columbia, so you’ll want to bring a business suit or two for the first week of orientation, but depending on how much extra space you have for luggage, it may be less expensive for you to purchase clothes here.

The International Center’s Before You Arrive Checklist has additional information regarding what to pack.

Plan communication options

You'll get to experience adventure and team work right away in the Crosby MBA Program.

You’ll get to experience adventure and team work right away in the Crosby MBA Program.

You should decide whether you would want to add an international plan to your existing service provider, or buy a phone once you arrive. International plans can usually be expensive and might not work very well due to network issues. So it is usually better to buy a new connection once you arrive with a contract phone or your existing device.

Remember to get your original phone plan of your home country suspended if you purchase the local plan here.

There are also various cheap plans that provide free international calls and messages at affordable prices for you to communicate with those back home. You also have an option of purchasing a cheap plan while in your home country that would get activated once you arrive here. So depending on your requirements, you can decide how you want to go about it.

Get ready to fly

Here comes the toughest part! Goodbyes are always so hard, but they are a necessary part of this journey. Just think of the exciting new experiences you’re going to have, and expect the unexpected.

Be prepared mentally, and be absolutely calm on the day of your departure. Finish all the packing a day or two before to avoid last minute panic. Spend as much time as you can with your loved ones, as you will miss them during this time away. Do the things you like and sleep as much as you can to save up on all your energy for the exhausting journey.

The day of your flight, make sure you arrive at the airport at least two to three hours before the scheduled time of your departure, so that you have enough time to check in with the airlines. Eat light and take good sleep in the flight. Most importantly, stay hydrated as jet lag is exhausting.

You can also learn more about Mizzou and the Crosby MBA Program by watching this short video.