Student Resources

Getting Started

Curious why studying abroad matters? It’s about more than just classes in a different place. It’s a chance to stretch your boundaries, grow as a person, and stand out to future employers. Navigating new streets, tasting unfamiliar foods, and making friends from around the world—it’s the kind of experience that builds adaptability, resilience, and a global outlook. Studying abroad is one of those immersive experiences where learning is woven into the fabric of new places and perspectives. It’s not just about travel; it’s about transformation. Ready to challenge yourself and grab hold of what the world has to offer? 

Benefits and Skills Gained from Studying Abroad:

  • Cultural Sensitivity: Developing a heightened awareness of cultural differences and respecting diverse viewpoints. 
  • Adaptability: Learning to navigate unfamiliar environments and embracing change with confidence.  
  • Communication Agility: Enhancing communication skills across language barriers, leading to effective cross-cultural interactions. 
  • Empathy: Understanding and appreciating the experiences and perspectives of people from different backgrounds. 
  • Tolerance for Ambiguity: Becoming comfortable with uncertainty and ambiguity in different cultural contexts.  
  • Flexibility: Adapting to different ways of thinking, problem-solving, and working. 
  • Conflict Resolution: Learning to manage conflicts that may arise from cultural misunderstandings and finding common ground. 
  • Collaboration: Working effectively in diverse teams, leveraging different strengths and experiences. 
  • International Awareness: Gaining insights into global issues and understanding the interconnectedness of the world. 
  • Cultural Competence: Developing the ability to navigate and thrive in a multicultural society. 
  • Historical Context: Gaining a deeper understanding of historical events and their impact on different cultures. 
  • Identity Exploration: Reflecting on one’s own identity and values in a global context. 
  • Critical Thinking: Analyzing situations from multiple cultural perspectives, fostering a broader mindset. 
  • Global Citizenship: Recognizing the responsibility to contribute positively to the global community. 
  • Appreciation of Diversity: Celebrating differences and recognizing the beauty in various cultural expressions. 
  • Language Acquisition: Acquiring language skills that open doors to authentic communication and deeper cultural understanding.

GPA Requirements 

All programs set minimum GPA requirements for program admission; however, no program is allowed to set a minimum GPA requirement of lower than 2.0. The minimum GPA is required both at the time of application and at the time of program departure.  

Students on Academic or Disciplinary Probation 

A student who is on academic or disciplinary probation or does not meet academic continuation requirements will not be permitted to study abroad/away during the period the sanction is in effect, regardless of the student's acceptance in a program. Any financial losses are the responsibility of the student. 

Course Load 

Students on Ball State University sponsored semester programs are required to remain enrolled in a minimum of the equivalent of 12 Ball State credits, on site, while participating in their international program. Partner University requirements that require higher course load supersede Ball State requirements. Online courses cannot count towards on-site minimum enrollment requirements. Course loadings for summer semesters or winter break terms are typically 3 or 6 Ball State credits per session (can vary by program). 

Seniors 

Studying abroad in the final term before graduation can be complicated. Seniors can absolutely participate in a Ball State faculty-led program or an international internship during their last term, as grades are submitted and processed on the same timeline as any other Ball State course. Keep in mind that for a summer faculty-led program, participating students should apply to graduate during the summer (July) rather than spring (May). Students can still participate in the spring commencement ceremony if they wish.  

  • For any other programs, we recommend timing your Study Abroad experience before your final semester of senior year because:
  • Your transcript will likely not arrive at Ball State until approximately 1-2 months beyond the conclusion of your overseas studies. This timeline does vary by program.
  • In a few limited cases, partner institutions may provide fall semester transcripts at the conclusion of the academic year (spring), further delaying the credit.
  • Once a transcript is received by Ball State, the internal transfer process can take an additional 1-2 months.
  • The study abroad office is unable to expedite the receipt of transcripts or the transfer of credit. 

If you choose to study abroad on a direct enroll, provider, consortium, or exchange program during the last term before graduation, you will not be eligible to graduate due to incomplete coursework on your Ball State record, even if you have met all your graduation requirements prior to your study abroad experience. While you won’t be required to return to Ball State the following term, the incomplete coursework may delay your ability to provide evidence of a degree for the purpose of applying to graduate school or accepting a job. You should contact the Study Abroad Office in advance of completing an application to determine the anticipated timeline for course transfer for your specific program. You should also consult with your academic advisor regarding your timeline for graduation. 

Non-BSU/Guest Students 

Students who are not degree-seeking at Ball State are welcome on our faculty-led programs as guest students. Students from a campus that is a member of the National Student Exchange (NSE) are also welcome to participate in any of our study abroad programs (provided it is allowable by the partner/provider). Before you attempt to enroll as a guest student, please contact the study abroad office.

When you think about studying abroad, location is probably the first thing that comes to mind. Another important consideration is program type. The Study Abroad Office at Ball State University offers several types of programs, each with different features, advantages, and considerations. You can have an incredible study abroad experience with any of our programs, but choosing the right one is key.  

Faculty-Led  

These are programs directed and led by Ball State faculty, with Ball State students taking Ball State courses. Typically, these programs offer a detailed itinerary, with coursework and cultural experiences built right in. Program locations and topics vary from year to year based on faculty offerings. The length also varies—some faculty-led programs are the length of a summer session or a semester, and many are short-term, perhaps over Spring or Winter break. 

Pro

  • Accommodations, excursions, and flights are all pre-arranged 
  • No need to get approvals for foreign course equivalencies, no transfers  
  • Ball State academic alignment is built right into the program  
  • A defined group of Ball State students and faculty can be comforting 

Cons 

  • Contact with local students can be limited  
  • Limited course options 

Provider & Direct Enroll  

These Ball State-approved programs are created for U.S. students and managed by an outside study abroad organization. Ball State partners with several providers, including KIIS (Kentucky Institute for International Studies) and AIFS (American Institute for Foreign Study), as well as some universities that offer study abroad as a direct enroll. These programs are somewhat independent in that you might be one of the only Ball State students, but you’ll join up with the rest of your group from other U.S. universities upon arrival. There’s typically a menu of courses, some of which might be taught in a local language and others that may be offered in English by visiting faculty from our peer institutions. These courses will be transferred back to Ball State if you earn a grade of C or better. There are a variety of countries, costs, and courses available for students to explore. 

Pros 

  • On-site support from local coordinators and visiting faculty  
  • Options for semester, year, summer, or winter break  
  • An extensive list of locations all over the world  
  • Excursions and cultural activities are typically included

Cons 

  • Can be costly  
  • Course equivalencies must be arranged before departure

Exchanges

Participating in an exchange involves studying at a university abroad as a guest student for a semester or year. These programs are partnerships that Ball State has with foreign universities where they send students to us, and we send our students to them. Students enroll in foreign universities and earn credit toward their Ball State degree. We even have domestic (inside the U.S.) exchange options through the National Student Exchange. Exchanges are designed for students comfortable with being more independent and needing less academic and social support. Exchange programs are great for students with a more flexible study plan since they are longer programs. Ball State partners with many universities in a variety of countries, including England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, China, and Australia. 


Pros
 

  • Independent and intercultural learning opportunities  
  • Entire course catalog of foreign universities is available  
  • Very cost-effective (typically, you pay Ball State tuition and host school room/board/fees)  
  • Immersed in the culture of the host location  

Cons 

  • You must be nominated by Ball State University, and placement may not be possible for every student  
  • Language proficiency may be required for some placements  
  • Housing, meal plans, and grading systems may differ from what you’re used to

Internships

These are independent programs that involve unpaid credit-bearing work that takes place abroad. Ball State partners with several international internship providers, such as Connect 1-2-3 and Academic Internship Experts (EUSA). These programs are recommended to rising seniors and typically happen during a Summer semester. An internship advisor in their department arranges credits. 


Pros 

  • Guaranteed placements—If you’re accepted, they’ll find you an internship  
  • Access to employers and internships that would not be available in Muncie, IN  
  • Housing & orientation arranged by the provider organization  
  • Placements are possible for most majors/industries

Cons 

  • Language proficiency may be required for some locations  
  • Can be cost-prohibitive 

With over 250 options, most students are able to find an approved Ball State program to meet their needs. However, we recognize sometimes students have special priorities and it is determined that a non-BSU sponsored program is a better fit. Participation in a non-Ball State sponsored program does come with some significant restrictions. It is important to carefully review the differences listed below BEFORE applying to a non-Ball State sponsored program. 

Credit & Grades 

Ball State students may only receive transfer credit from a program which provides an official transcript from a U.S. accredited institution or an accredited institution overseas. Grade reports or unofficial transcripts are not recognized. Be aware that some program providers utilize unofficial grade reports or certificates vs. a transcript. You may be asked by the program provider to pay an extra fee for an official transcript through a school of record. It is always the student’s responsibility to contact individual program sponsors for specifics about what type of transcript is available in advance of making a program commitment. Credit from non-Ball State sponsored programs is transfer credit only and not resident credit. Letter grades earned abroad are not recorded on the Ball State transcript, nor are they calculated into the GPA. Students must earn a C or better in each course that transfers. Ball State requires that 30 of the last 40 credits are in residence. This may have an impact on the timing of your study abroad participation. Please check with your academic advisor if you have questions about this before you make any plan to study on a non-Ball State program. 

Scholarships & Financial Aid 

Certain Ball State institutional financial aid (ex. Presidential Scholarships, Whitinger Scholarships) may not apply to non-Ball State programs. Always confirm with the Financial Aid Office first. Federal financial aid (Stafford Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loans, Pell Grants, etc.) is linked to the institution where a student is degree-seeking. Consult with the Ball State Office of Scholarships & Financial Aid regarding the transfer of aid to the non-Ball State provider. This means you might need to pay for the study abroad program on your own. If you have previously taken out student loans be aware that they will go back into repayment after 6 months of separation from Ball State. You can sometimes request a deferment of the loan repayment by verifying you had enrollment at another accredited institution. However, the process and types of institutions/programs recognized will vary. We advise students contact the loan provider in advance to find out the procedure and guidelines for deferral. 

Housing Contracts

If you live on campus and terminate your housing contract for a non-Ball State program you may be subject to the cancellation penalties outlined in your contract. Steps for Participation in a non-Ball State Sponsored Study Abroad Program

  1. Carefully research the program and review the restrictions listed above
  2. Meet with your academic advisor to discuss the program’s curriculum. You may wish to secure written pre-approvals for the courses using an advising center form. It is important to tell your advisor that the program is a non-Ball State study abroad program, as the process will be different.
  3. Apply to the non-Ball State sponsored program by the deadline.
  4. Provide your host institution/provider with the address where your transcripts should be sent at the end of your program. 

For US transcripts:
Office of Admissions
Ball State University
Lucina Hall
Muncie, IN 47306 USA 

For Foreign Transcripts: *Must be accompanied by English translation (if in another language) with course descriptions
Study Abroad Office
Rinker Center for Global Affairs
Student Center, Room 102
Ball State University
Muncie, IN 47306 USA 

Ball State University offers programs of various lengths, types, and academic disciplines, each with its own unique component, so you’ll want to spend some time exploring all your options. You can research programs by searching by program type, academic subject, and program duration, or you can use the map tool, which will show you every program offered in the country you select. You can also attend “Study Abroad 101,” one-on-one advising, or one of our other information sessions to learn more. 

How to Apply

Information Sessions  
The Rinker Center hosts Study Abroad 101 information sessions. These sessions are led by our peer advisors and are a great way to start your journey to studying abroad. Our peer advisors go over the program types, how to apply, and a general timeline, as well as connect you with any resources you might need throughout the process. Study Abroad 101 info sessions are available in person or via Zoom.  

One-on-One Advising  
Schedule a study abroad advising appointment with our peer advisors to discuss the study abroad process. Our peer advisors have experience with Ball State study abroad programs—they’ve already studied abroad and have come back to tell us about it. They’re prepared to assist you in exploring your options in a peer-to-peer environment.  

In these individual appointments, we discuss things like:  

  • How to get started  
  • Considerations for selecting a program  
  • How to search for a program on our website  
  • How to get a program cost estimate  
  • Scholarship opportunities and deadlines  
  • How to apply   

When you sign up, we’ll ask about your major, year, and where and when you’d like to go abroad. All in-person meetings will be in room 102 of the Student Center, or we can meet on Zoom. 

Questions about when to study abroad, what kind of program, which classes to take, etc. all depend on your major and your degree plan. Some academic programs have more flexibility in the first two years, others have electives built into a later semester; some courses are often completed while studying abroad, while others must be completed at Ball State. Maybe studying abroad is a ‘rite of passage’ for juniors in your major, or maybe there’s a summer faculty-led program designed specifically for students in your major. For that reason, the question of “what’s the best study abroad option for a ________ major” is best answered in partnership with your academic advisor.   

One of the most important parts of choosing a study abroad program is considering how the coursework in the program will intersect with your degree plan and path to graduation. Most program brochures provide information about the courses that are typically offered to participating students—sometimes you may have the course syllabus, or perhaps a course description or a title. Before you’ve made a firm decision on a program, please share the academic offerings with your academic advisor and discuss how those options may be applied to your degree plan. Keep in mind that (with the exception of BSU faculty-led programs) study abroad/away courses must be transferred back to BSU upon completion of the program, but course equivalencies are agreed upon long before departure. Study abroad courses may be used to complete requirements for majors, minors, UCC, and/or electives—all depending on your unique major, degree plan, and study abroad coursework.

All study abroad programs are credit-bearing, but the way the credit is awarded and how it appears on your transcript differs according to the type of program you pursue. The information below explains what you need to know about earning credit abroad. 

Faculty-Led and Internship Programs  

Students participating in faculty-led study abroad or international internship programs will register for courses as usual. Your faculty leader will notify you when it’s time to enroll in your course(s). Grades for BSU faculty-led programs and internships will appear on your transcript and be calculated into your GPA (just like any other BSU course).  

Exchange, Provider, Consortia Programs  

The Request for Study Abroad Credit (RSAC) Form
All credits from your study abroad program will count only as elective credit unless all the necessary preliminary authorizations from the departments listed on the form are obtained. 

Please note that the request for study abroad credit (RSAC) form is good for only one semester. If you study abroad for an academic year, you must complete one RSAC for each semester. You are encouraged to work closely with your advisors and to have more courses approved than you intend to take abroad. In case you opt to change registration once abroad, having additional course approvals will provide you with options. 

REGISTRATION 

The Study Abroad Office will register you for a placeholder course (INSA 400) before your departure. The number of credit hours will reflect the number of credits you requested for the program. Please do not attempt to register yourself for your placeholder course. Once we have registered you for study abroad, all other courses you might be registered for that term will be deleted. Details about placeholder registration may depend on the program you’ve chosen—refer to your study abroad application portal for more details.  

GRADES 

Ball State exchange and study abroad courses will appear on a student's transcript as transfer credit and will not be factored into a student's cumulative Ball State GPA. Since many international universities do not use the same credit hour or grading system as we do, the Study Abroad Office will provide credit and course equivalencies for each overseas institution. Only those courses earning the equivalent of a C grade or higher will come back as credit. Courses that receive a C- or less will not earn credit. No-credit grades can have very serious consequences on your financial aid award, and you may be asked to return all or some of your award if you receive less than full-time credit. 

We use grade conversion tables created in part with the World Education Services International Grade Conversion Guide for Higher Education and our academic units.  

COURSE CHANGES WHILE ON YOUR PROGRAM 

You should contact your academic advisor to seek approval for any courses not previously approved. It is your responsibility to ensure the Study Abroad Office receives any new course approvals (with confirmation from the advisor) within one week of the start of classes at your study abroad institution. 

TRANSCRIPTS 

The Study Abroad Office must receive an original transcript from the program abroad. You should request host institution transcripts to be sent to the Study Abroad Office at Ball State (note: please do NOT send it to the registrar’s office, admissions office, or any other Ball State address).  

Rinker Center for Global Affairs
Attn: Study Abroad Transcript
2000 W. University Ave
Muncie, IN 47306 

When the Study Abroad Office receives your overseas transcript, we package together your transcript, Request for Study Abroad Credit (RSAC), and Grade Equivalency Form, then forward the materials to the Registrar for processing. Once the equivalent courses are posted on your transcript, they will also be represented on your DegreeWorks. All courses without approved equivalencies will be listed as INSA 400 and remain on your transcript as general elective credit. They cannot be retroactively approved. Please keep in mind that the study abroad credit transfer process can take a very long time (several months, up to a full academic term). 

Transfer Credit Hour Guidelines

For information on how credit hours and grades will transfer, please download our transfer credit hour guidelines document and click the link to the program you are pursuing to learn more.

For information on program costs and scholarship opportunities, visit our Scholarships, Costs, and Billing page

Total Costs

Be aware there are additional costs that you may have when studying abroad/away.  The following are some of these costs: Airfare to and from your host country, passport application fees, visa application fees (not required for all countries), immunizations (only needed for certain locations), personal spending for extra travel/souvenirs/food - varies greatly from student to student. 

To determine the total costs for your program, use the buildable/customizable cost sheets in the study abroad portal—each program will have a cost sheet template built in.  

Bills are generated after the commitment deadline and (typically) before departure. Due dates, payment plans, late fees, etc. generally follow the existing schedules of Student Financial Services (SFS) at BSU. Program fees must be paid in full by program departure date.      

Money while abroad 

You should have several ways to access money abroad, including credit cards, debit cards, and U.S. and local currency. It is also wise to set a budget and make sure that you are paying attention to it! You should have cash with you at all times in case of emergency and for smaller stores or taxis that only accept cash. However, you should avoid carrying large sums of money, which could be lost or stolen. It may be useful to obtain some of your host country’s currency before departure. Many banks and airports will do this for you for a fee. Debit/ATM cards are the most common way for students to obtain money from their checking account while abroad; and despite the ATM fees, it may also be the cheapest. Make sure to contact your bank ahead of time to let them know when you will be abroad and to make sure that your card and PIN number will work overseas. 

Credit cards are invaluable in case of emergency, and they are a good way to access money while abroad. Purchases on a credit card are charged at that day’s current exchange rate, and most credit card companies will charge a small fee for this conversion. Make sure that you contact your credit card company to let them know the dates that you will be traveling and where. If they see a foreign charge on a card that usually has U.S. charges, it may seem like suspicious activity and cause them to cancel your card. This also applies for debit cards. You should also establish a PIN for your credit card. Although uncommonly used in the U.S., a PIN for your credit card will allow you to make cash advances for a fee, which is very helpful in a true emergency. Make sure to leave photocopies of your credit and debit cards in a safe place in case they are lost or stolen. You will need the account numbers and phone number to report the stolen card. 

Western Union can also be useful in case of an emergency-- in most countries, it is possible to send funds to oneself and then withdraw the funds in cash at a physical location.  

While Venmo, Cashapp, Paypal, etc may be very useful for exchanging money with other American students while abroad, do keep in mind that app-based electronic transfers may be uncommon or non-existent in your study abroad location.  

Passport Information 
Getting a passport is a huge step toward being able to study abroad! A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave foreign countries. Participants are responsible for ensuring they have the proper passport and visa(s) for their travel. All study abroad applications require either a valid passport or a receipt showing you have applied for your passport. In recent years there has been an unprecedented demand for passports; therefore, you should apply for a passport as early as you can. Passports are valid for 10 years. If you already have a passport, make sure it is valid for at least six months beyond your planned return to the U.S. 

Please start by visiting the official website of the U.S. State Dept  -- this is where to find the best information about costs, timeline, the documents you'll need, and photographs.  

We will take your passport photos (for free!) in the Rinker Center. Please stop by and see us in the Student Center (room 102, near Taco Bell) to take advantage of this perk of being a BSU student! 

Keep in mind that first-time passports are accepted IN PERSON (not by mail or electronic submission). Our local passport acceptance facility is the Muncie U.S. Post Office at 501 W. Memorial Dr. They take appointments M-F 9:30-3. To schedule an appointment, use this direct link.

You will need to write two checks: one to the U.S. State Department and one to the U.S. Postal Service. These materials will be packaged by the post office and sent to the appropriate offices. You should receive your passport in 6-12 weeks (consult with the state department’s website for up-to-date processing times). Your birth certificate will be returned with your passport. 

Visa Information 
A visa is an official document (endorsement or stamp) issued by the government of the host country that allows the bearer to visit that country. Visa regulations vary by country and processing may take a few weeks to a few months to issue. You should check with the embassy of your host country as soon as possible to confirm visa application requirements. Visit the U.S. Department of State website for information about your host country embassy or consulate and for foreign entry requirements.

Begin collecting required documents, even if you do not yet have your passport, and submit your visa application as soon as you have all of the required materials. If you plan to travel to other countries before, during, or after your study abroad experience, you will need to check each country’s visa requirements before departure as well. 

Working While Abroad 
All countries have strict regulations governing the ability of foreigners to work in their country. Often, foreign students are not allowed to work at all. Even in countries that do allow foreign students to work part-time, you may find that jobs are scarce, that it is difficult to combine work and studies, or that your host institution may prohibit you from working, even if it is legal for you to do so. Working without legal permission is considered grounds for deportation in many countries. 

Booking a flight is one of the most exciting parts of studying abroad. Here are a few important considerations: 

  • For many programs, you’ll arrange your own flight. Be sure to wait until you’ve been given the go-ahead from your study abroad advisor to book anything non-refundable.  
  • Be sure you have clarity on your program’s arrival and departure dates. Some programs may give you a window of dates to choose from, and some will give you one specific date on which you should arrive. If you decide to arrive earlier or depart later, keep in mind that you will almost always be totally responsible for your pre- or post- program costs (including housing, transportation, food, etc).    
  • We recommend buying a round-trip ticket with a set return date and flying into the airport closest to your final destination. Open-ended tickets are generally not acceptable to Immigration in the host country. 
  • When the program includes a group flight, we (or the provider) will book on your behalf. Flights will never be booked on your behalf until after the commitment deadline for your program has passed. 
  • Airport transfers (transportation from the airport to accommodations) are sometimes included in program costs. Check with the program provider or host institution for details. When there is no transfer provided, you will need to arrange your own way to your housing.

The Ball State University International Travel Policy mandates medical and evacuation insurance coverage during your time abroad. This insurance is included at no additional cost for University-sponsored study abroad programs. See AXA Travel Assistance for insurance policy information. For personal assistance (non-emergency) please contact the Rinker Center for Global Affairs at 765-285-5422. For a summary of the study abroad insurance plan benefits, please download the AXA Student Summary of Benefits

Travel Insurance Policy
 
For students participating in AIFS and KIIS programs, your program provider’s insurance should serve as your primary policy for medical insurance. The BSU policy can serve as a secondary insurance provider in the event of an emergency or mishap. Please consult with your program provider about insurance coverage and claims processing. 

Make sure that you fully understand how your insurance works and where you can receive medical care. Students will typically need to pay for the cost of care up front and be reimbursed later. Carry your insurance card with you at all times. Mental health is also a concern while studying abroad. The stress of adjusting to a new culture may exacerbate any pre-existing conditions. Be sure to read up on culture shock and what to expect so this effect will be minimized. You may also want to visit your doctor prior to departure to sign a release for medical records in order to take a copy of your records with you. This will be helpful if you need to meet with a doctor or other care provider overseas. 

Before you leave, assess your own health and any requirements for your host country. You may need to have a physical exam due to visa requirements. Other countries may require or recommend vaccinations. See the Center for Disease Control for more information on your host country (www.cdc.gov). If you take prescription medication or wear contact lenses, make sure that you have a supply to last the duration of your stay and that your medication is not restricted by your host country. Obtain signed and dated statements from your doctor indicating the generic and brand name of the medication, any major health problems, and dosage. This will be vital in case of an emergency. Pack your prescriptions and medications in their original packages in your carry-on luggage. It is also helpful to have notes from your physician explaining the condition that requires the medication, as customs officials may ask to see it. If you have asthma, allergies, diabetes, or any other condition that may require emergency care, you should carry a card, tag, or bracelet that identifies your medical condition. 

Student must provide written notice of intent to withdraw to the Rinker Center for Global Affairs (email studyabroad@bsu.edu). 

Program Withdrawal prior to commitment deadline 

Participants will not incur any direct costs for withdrawal from BSU. If the BSU deadline is later than your program provider’s deadline, provider procedures and policies supersede those of BSU. 

PROGRAM WITHDRAWAL AFTER COMMITMENT DEADLINE 

Participant will forfeit study abroad fee and assume responsibility for any non-recoverable expenses incurred or committed by BSU and its affiliates on participant’s behalf at the time of withdrawal, up to the entire program cost.  

Study Abroad Office Travel Policy 

This policy supplements the University’s International Travel Policy. The Study Abroad Office reserves the right to amend, suspend or cancel a program or other travel (prior to departure or in progress) if facts and circumstances are such that the Study Abroad Office concludes that the traveler’s health, safety and well-being may be jeopardized or would be inconsistent with applicable U.S. government sanctions or export control laws. Key indicators for evaluation include Department of State Travel Advisory level, CDC guidance, entry or re-entry restrictions, and restrictions on traveler mobility (e.g., quarantine, lockdown, flight restrictions, among others). 

Financial loss resulting from such cancellation is primarily the responsibility of the program participants, but the Study Abroad office will make every effort to make decisions about amendment, suspension or cancellation in a time frame that minimizes financial loss for participants. 

No matter where you are in the world, there are always safety concerns. Being in an unfamiliar environment, especially one with different languages and customs, can present unique challenges. To enhance your safety during your time abroad, consider the following tips. Additionally, for comprehensive information on staying safe and handling emergency situations, visit the Study Abroad section on the US State Department's website.

  1. Common Sense: Just as you wouldn't wander alone and intoxicated in Muncie at 3:00 am, apply the same principles abroad. Stay aware of your surroundings, navigate independently, and always know how to return to your accommodations.
  2. Buddy System: One of the most effective safety measures is to travel with at least one other person, especially during nighttime outings.
  3. Research: Understand the unique safety risks of your destination by checking travel.state.gov. Research local crime, areas to avoid, and best practices for staying safe, including any locations you plan to visit outside your host country. Understand the potential risks associated with alcohol consumption, legal considerations, and take necessary precautions to avoid compromising your safety.
  4. Know Emergency Numbers: Memorize the local emergency contact numbers and save them in your cellphone and wallet. Familiarize yourself with the locations of nearby police stations.
  5. Register for STEP program: Sign up for the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. You can receive travel and security updates about your destination, and it will help the State Department contact you in an emergency. If your family needs to reach you because of an emergency at home, they can call Overseas Citizens Services in Washington, D.C. at 888-407-4747 (from the United States or Canada) or 202-501-4444 (overseas). 

Common Safety Issues: 

  • Theft: Be cautious of suspicious individuals, especially in tourist-heavy areas. Guard your belongings by keeping bags secure, using sturdy straps, and avoiding easily accessible pockets. Remain vigilant in museums, historical sites, and tourist-friendly establishments. Cell phones and passports are extremely valuable in many areas of the world—they are the most commonly stolen items. Please make smart decisions about when to carry your passport (and how)-- they are very complicated to replace! 
  • Traffic: Road accidents are a leading cause of harm to international travelers. Understand and adhere to local traffic laws; be cautious as a pedestrian, especially in areas where traffic flows on the opposite side. Avoid driving, and exercise caution if cycling in certain cities. 
  • In Case of Incidents: Assess the severity of the incident and file a police report if necessary. Locate the nearest police station for serious offenses and promptly notify your program or host university. In the event of lost or stolen documents, contact the nearest embassy and keep photocopies of important identification documents in a secure place. 

Your safety is our priority. If you experience any issues or incidents, please reach out to the Study Abroad Office at Ball State University. We are here to assist you in navigating any necessary procedures and ensuring your well-being. 

The Study Abroad Office at Ball State University is committed to ensuring that study abroad is an accessible and enriching experience for all our students. Diversity, in all its dimensions, strengthens the fabric of our study abroad programs. As you explore study abroad possibilities, it's important to recognize that attitudes toward your identity may vary outside the U.S. Understanding the cultural implications of your identity can enhance your self-awareness and deepen your connection with the new culture you'll be living in. Before choosing a study abroad program, take some time to research your potential host country’s social norms, cultural practices, and local customs. We understand that navigating your identity in new and unfamiliar environments can be challenging. The Study Abroad Office is here to help – feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns as you embark on this exciting journey. 

Women & Gender Expression

Concepts of gender and gender roles can vary across the U.S. and the world. It’s important to, before deciding on programs or accommodations, ensure you understand the norms, customs, and laws in your new surroundings to determine where you want to go, or how you might express yourself while abroad.  

Questions to Consider: 

  1. How safe is this destination for women travelers? 
  2. What are the local attitudes toward women, and are there any specific safety concerns? 
  3. How are women expected to dress in the host country? 
  4. What are considered typical male and female social behaviors, gender relations, customs, and social tendencies in my host country? 
  5. What are some relevant laws/legal statutes that protect people of my gender or gender identity?
  6. What are the culturally significant views of the local people? 
  7. What gender stereotypes or expectations might I find in my host country? 
  8. How should I react if something offensive is said to me/about me?
  9. Does my host country have resources I can use if it happens? 
  10. How open will I be about my gender identity with teachers/peers/host families/etc.? 
  11. Will I need access to any medications or services while abroad, and does that country offer access to it?
  12. Are there any cultural considerations related to women’s health practices? 
  13. How important is building an interpersonal connection to others of my gender to me? 

Helpful Resources

  1. Women's Empowerment Principles (WEPs) 
  2. IIE's Women's Institute for Leadership Development (WILD)
  3. UN Women - Empower Women 
  4. Transgender Equality Abroad 
  5. The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association  
  6. Gender in Foreign Languages 
  7. LGBTQ+ and Safety 
  8. Global Trans Rights Index

LGBTQIA+ Identities Abroad

Concepts of relationships, marriage, identity, and sexuality can vary greatly from place to place across the U.S. and the world. When studying abroad, it’s crucial to understand the attitudes, customs, and laws in your host country. Reflect on the culturally based ideas and definitions of sexual identity and consider carefully how your identity as a LGBTQIA+ person may affect your relationships with host country nationals, your cultural adjustment, and your overall study abroad experience. Regardless of where you go, it is important to be alert and try to avoid potentially unsafe environments.  

Questions to Consider:  

  1. What is the legal status of LGBTQ+ rights in the host country?
  2. Are there any laws or regulations that may impact people of my identity? 
  3. What safety considerations should be taken into account, especially concerning public displays of affection? 
  4. How open do I want to be with others about my sexual orientation/identity/gender? 
  5. What are the common, culturally-based attitudes toward sexual orientation and gender identity in my host country?  
  6. What is the attitude of local residents toward people from the U.S., other nationalities, and LGBTQIA+ tourists? 
  7. Does my program have accommodations for me? (Private bathroom, LGBTQIA+ friendly roommates, etc.) 
  8. What on-campus resources are available to members of the LGBTQIA+ community? 
  9. Are there any LGBTQ+ friendly establishments nearby? 
  10. How LGBTQ+ friendly are healthcare services in the host country?
  11. Will I be able to find medical professionals who are knowledgeable about my needs? 
  12. What support systems might I be able to find? 

 Helpful Resources

  1. International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association (ILGA World) 
  2. IES Abroad - LGBTQ+ Inclusive Study Abroad 
  3. Diversity Abroad - LGBTQ+ Students Abroad 
  4. Maps - Sexual orientation laws | ILGA World
  5. LGBTQI+ Travel Information | US Dept. of State 

Race and Ethnicity

We acknowledge historical disparities in students of color participating in study abroad, and we’re committed to making sure black, African-American, Latinx, indigenous, and ethnic minority students can see themselves studying abroad. Your racial and/or ethnic background is a vital part of your identity, and studying abroad can be a transformative and enriching experience. Keep in mind that assumptions about race and ethnicity are also culturally bound, meaning that while abroad, you may find that others make assumptions based on your appearance. Norms about staring, touching hair or skin, and blunt questions about where you’re from may all differ from the U.S.

Questions to Consider: 

  1. How diverse is the student body in the host country and within the study abroad program? 
  2. How is my ethnicity/race perceived in my host country?
  3. What kind of stereotypes are there, and how should I respond to them? 
  4. Are there communities, organizations, networks, or affinity groups that cater to the needs of students of color? 
  5. How should I react if somebody says or does something offensive?
  6. Am I prepared to address or respond to potential microaggressions or stereotyping? 
  7. Are there spaces where I can connect with and celebrate my cultural heritage? 
  8. Are there any safety concerns related to race or ethnicity in the host country? 
  9. Will there be other minority students in my program? 
  10. What is the availability of products I might use related to health or personal grooming?
  11. Will I find service providers that are familiar with ethnic hair textures and styles?  
  12. How can I use my time and conversations abroad to positively represent U.S. diversity and share my culture? 
  13. Does the coursework of the program incorporate diverse cultural perspectives? 

Helpful Resources

  1. Diversity Abroad Network
  2. The Forum on Education Abroad - Resources on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 
  3. Race Forward - Racial Equity Impact Assessment 
  4. Considering Issues of Race and Ethnicity Before Going Abroad 
  5. UW-Stout's Bias Incident Response Team
  6. Scholarships and Financial Aid for Students of Color Abroad 

Disability

Whether it's ensuring accessible accommodations, addressing mobility concerns, or facilitating inclusive experiences, our goal is to provide the necessary support to make study abroad accessible for everyone. Keep in mind that laws and customs related to accommodations can vary greatly from place to place across the U.S. and the world. This includes perspectives on medications, types of disabilities accommodated, and general attitude towards people with disabilities that may be very different from the United States. As you plan your journey, it's essential to explore the accessibility of accommodations, both on campus and in the broader community. Understanding the mobility and transportation landscape is crucial, including the accessibility of public transit and popular destinations. 

Questions to Consider: 

  1. What social norms apply to people with disabilities in my host country?
  2. Are there cultural assumptions about invisible or visible disabilities that might be helpful to understand? 
  3. What are the specific laws and regulations related to accessibility and accommodation in my host country?
  4.  What words might I need to learn in another language to describe my disability? 
  5. Will I require any medications or treatments while abroad, and are they available and accessible in my host country? If not, what regulations and processes do I need to research in order to bring them with me? 
  6. What might I need to share about my disability with others in my host country for safety/accommodation reasons?
  7. How much am I comfortable with sharing?
  8. How may this change or shape where I choose to go? 
  9. If somebody says or does something offensive, how should I approach it?
  10. Is there a designated person or group I can contact? 
  11. What resources does my program provider offer for my accessibility needs? 
  12. Does my host country have transportation and other accessibility standards that will fit my needs? 
  13. What are my back-up plans if my accessibility or mobility aids malfunction while abroad? 
  14. Will my assistive devices and technologies be compatible with local systems? 
  15. How can I communicate my specific needs during emergency or evacuation situations? 

Helpful Resources 

  1. Mobility International USA - Accessible Study Abroad 
  2. AHEAD - Association on Higher Education and Disability 
  3. U.S. Department of State - Students with Disabilities 
  4. Dept. of State | Traveling with Disabilities
  5. A Guide to Studying Abroad with a Disability 

Student Conduct 

Students are expected to adhere to Ball State University standards while abroad/away. The Ball State Student Code of Conduct applies to all BSU study abroad/study away programs, including the related procedures for misconduct.  

Visitors for Students 

Visitors are not allowed to stay with the students and must source housing on their own. With permission from Faculty Leader/Program Leader, visitors may participate in program activities; however, visitors must absorb all costs associated with their participation. 

Alcohol, Drugs, and Crime while Abroad 

While studying abroad you will most likely be in a location where you are of legal drinking age and where alcohol may be a part of the everyday culture. You are encouraged to use good judgment if you choose to consume alcoholic beverages abroad. Be aware of and abide by the customs and laws of the host country, and remember that you are representing Ball State University and the U.S. as a whole. Drugs are illegal in most countries around the world, and drug laws are often stricter in other countries, despite what you may have heard. In some countries, possession of even a relatively small amount of illegal drugs can be grounds for mandatory jail sentence or even the death penalty. Once you have ventured beyond U.S. borders you are no longer protected by U.S. laws and constitutional rights. It is your responsibility to understand the laws of your host country before you go. If you do get into any legal or criminal trouble while abroad, you should immediately contact the nearest U.S. consulate or embassy. 

Because of the interconnectedness of our world, you may feel like you communicate with your family and other close contacts as much (or more!) while you’re abroad as you do in Muncie. Despite that, we will encourage you to set some reasonable expectations of when and how you will communicate with folks at home. Before you depart, agree upon how you will communicate your safe arrival, keeping in mind that it may not be possible to call them from the arrival airport. Resist the urge to communicate too frequently with family and friends, as it may make you homesick and delay your progess in immersing yourself in the host culture.  

Communication Options

Chat Apps
Chat apps (especially WhatsApp) are very common in most parts of the world. All BSU students going abroad should have WhatsApp installed on their phone before departure. For non-emergency communication via WhatsApp with the Study Abroad Office, use the phone number 765.285.6502.  

Wifi and Cell Phone Service
Wifi is abundant and reliable in many locations around the world. Cell phone service may vary, but calls from your American cell phone while abroad are typically possible but sometimes costly. Check into the international plans offered by your provider—as a tip, Google Fi’s unlimited plan offers data and texts at no additional cost in most countries around the world. Other carriers may offer a monthly or daily charge to use your data abroad. If your phone is compatible with an eSIM, purchasing a local plan for your American phone might be a great option. Some students may choose to buy a phone or physical SIM in the host country.  

Mail
Mail can sometimes be sent to and from your host country, although service definitely varies by country. It may be wise to ask around locally upon your arrival—especially if you are expecting to receive an item of significant value.