It is always a good idea to break the process of getting ready for a summer or winter school abroad into smaller steps. Although the steps below will not necessarily be in the same order for all students – it is still important to give attention to the respective topics.
Step 1 – The Summer School Host:
You have applied and have officially been accepted by the host university. The host university will now contact you to provide and request the following information and documents:
- Housing Preferences
- Request for personal information: The summer school can request additional personal information.
- Payment Information: In case you need to pay certain fees the summer school will provide you with banking details.
- Letter of Acceptance: The summer school will issue an official letter of acceptance, which is very important in case you need to apply for a visa.
- Request flight information: You will be requested to provide your arrival date and time, as well as your departure date and time.
Step 2 – Travel Bursary and Flight Ticket:
After you have been accepted to the summer school, you will be informed by SU International regarding the amount of your travel bursary. After this amount has been confirmed a bursary letter with all the bursary requirements will be issued to you. In addition to this document a bank details form will also be issued to you, which you need to complete in full and submit to SU International for payment. (We can’t process the payment without this form.)
The travel bursary will then be paid into your bank account and you are then responsible for buying your flight ticket. You can decide how you would like to buy your flight, online or via a travel agency. There are benefits and downsides for both options – so our suggestion is that you shop around.
Please make sure that the name of on your flight ticket corresponds with all the names in your passport.
Step 3 – Visa:
If you are a South African passport holder, you will in most cases need to apply for a visa specifically if you will be visiting the US, Britain, Europe, China, Japan and Australia.
- You are responsible to apply for the correct visa at the nearest country representative (embassy or consulate) in South Africa;
- Please confirm the category and requirements for your visa application with the representative where you plan to submit your application;
- You must ensure that you have a valid visa before you depart for the respective country.
SU International will be provide assistance in providing supporting documents, for example proof of registration, exchange confirmations etc.
Although the visa application processes of countries are different, most request the following documents:
- A completed visa application form;
- A recent biometric passport photo;
- Proof of medical insurance valid for the period abroad;
- Proof of sufficient funds (can request bank statement for 3 months, but not credit card statements);
- Letter of acceptance from the host summer school;
- Proof or reservation of accommodation;
- Document confirming student status at Stellenbosch University (proof of registration and exchange confirmation). You can request this document from SU International.
It is important to confirm with the respective country representative what the visa requirements are. Even if you have done a visa application before it is still important to confirm, because the conditions change over time.
Step 4 – Plan your Trip:
It is important that you consider the following items:
- Academic Matters
- Apps, smartphones and social media
- Arriving and Departing
- Country and Travel
- General tips from students that have been on exchange
- Health and Safety
Step 5 – While you are abroad:
For many of us going abroad is a big event and is not something that we do frequently. So the best advice one could give here – is to really try to experience everything and immerse oneself in the environment. For that reason try to disconnect from social media. Yes, it is important to be in contact with your friends and family back home, but there is no point being abroad if you are in constant contact with home. You will have a lot of time to share your experiences on your return to South Africa.
Step 6 – On your return:
On returning to Stellenbosch you will be required to submit a blog posting; the blog posting will be posted on our summer and winter school blog.
What to do if something does happen?
Unfortunately bad things happen. The first step is to try and stay calm and focused. The worst thing you can do is to stay quiet about the incident.
Inform the local police and/or campus security. It is generally a good idea to ask for the police report for your own reference. In the case of theft you will need the police report for insurance purposes.
Talk to a friend. You will need support and assistance. Depending on the nature of what went wrong you might want to tell more than one person.
Inform the host coordinator. He/she can provide further assistance and advice and depending on the nature of the incident might decide to inform your home coordinator. You are ALWAYS welcome to inform your host coordinator of anything that went wrong.
If you struggle to cope with the incident and the related stress, seek professional assistance and help. Universities normally have counselling services and support available for students; speak to your host coordinator in terms of how to access it. Most importantly, don’t isolate yourself or keep quiet.