1 – Call us or we will call you!
*insert creepy laugh* Just kidding (sort of). Not only do we love to talk about the programs, we like to get to know you! I get really excited when I get to share my knowledge and excitement about your upcoming term abroad with you. I like to hear what led to your decision to study abroad, what you did last weekend, your cat’s name, etc. We will obviously talk about all the nitty gritty study abroad details but we like to also keep things light and fun. You should expect to hear from us within a few days of submitting an application. This is a time for us to introduce ourselves, get to know you, talk about the next steps, and ensure that you are on the right track.
2 – Make sure you talk to your home school AND SAI.
We work in tandem. We can’t function without the other (we have a bit of a codependent relationship). You first need to talk to your school. You might need to gain approval for studying abroad; you might have a deadline by which you need to fulfill certain requirements; you will probably have an application to fill out. Once you have gotten the big thumbs up from your home school, we will get this party started!
3 – Ask questions!
No question is silly – truly! You are embarking on a HUGE experience and you should have questions (I actually worry when students have zero questions). I have lived abroad, worked abroad, studied abroad, and have been in the biz for 15+ years. You could say I have picked up a thing or two throughout my years. I love to share this with you. I also want you to feel 100% confident in the program and there is no better way to achieve that than by asking all the questions. Questions range from packing tips to the courses you should take, to what to eat while abroad. We want to hear all of them.
4 – Paperwork: it does not all have to come in at the same time.
Let’s play a game: what’s the first thing that comes to mind when I say paperwork? I took a poll around the office and these were some of the answers:
– not fun
– piles of paper
– 3 visa letters
It is clear that the word “paperwork” carries a rather negative connotation, so do not fret, we try to keep paperwork to a minimum (we love trees after all).
The application is online (phew!), but you will also have to submit some supplemental documents. Don’t worry about sending everything in at the same time – we will match everything as it comes in. You will receive a confirmation email every time we receive something from you.
5 – Research and read; set your expectations.
By “set expectations” I actually mean “erase any and all expectations you have ever thought of setting. The end.” Study abroad is different for every student. What your friend experienced, found frustrating, and loved, will not be the same for you. I recommend placing greater focus and effort on learning about the cultural differences and to best set expectations (or solutions) for “dealing” with those differences. Think positive. Make it a game – everything can be turned into a positive if you look hard enough (sometimes you have dig real deep).
Let’s try it…
Cultural difference: there will more than likely be lots of stairs to your apartment and no elevator.
Solution: I should only bring/pack what I can comfortably carry.
Expectation: My legs and buns will look phenomenal by the end of the term.
Cultural difference: there are no screens or AC (usually).
Expectation: I will be hot and will become mosquito bait.
Solution: I will research ways to stay cool (keep the house closed up during the day) and will invest in some mosquito repellent (Vape is great).
6 – Talk to the Student Visa Director – stat!
Rose Maier, SAI Student Visa Director, has by far the most difficult job in all of the company. The visa process can be tedious. Rose’s patience, expertise and problem solving abilities are unmatched, but don’t wait till the last minute to touch base with her. The visa process takes time and she is a very popular lady. Problems arise when you have not given yourself (or Rose) ample time to sort through everything.
7 – Organize: print, save, file, set dates, repeat.
You will receive A L O T of information. All of it is important (I promise!) but I know that it can be very overwhelming. The best thing to do is to stay organized. You might choose to print everything and make a nice folder for you to refer to or you could create a folder in your email account that you stick all of your correspondence from us into. There will be a lot of deadlines. Stay on top of these by setting reminders in your calendar on your phone. We will help you by sending out reminders, but running around at the last minute trying to get things together is stressful, so try to avoid that by staying on top of your own deadlines.
8 – Join the Facebook group for your city & term
Do this as soon as you get the invite. Getting to know your peers who will be experiencing this program with you will certainly help to ease any concerns. You are probably not the only person with that question, so ask it! It will probably help someone else out (and who doesn’t love being helpful?). Engage! We post polls, blogs, tips, and reminders and we love seeing you interact with each other. It will also make arrivals that much more fun because you will feel like you are reuniting with old friends!
9 – SAI pre-departure packet of study abroad love!
Open it, read it, love it. Especially the student handbook. This gets refined every term by Admissions, on-site staff, interns, alums, ambassadors and it really is the most helpful piece of literature you can read.
10 – Keep in touch!
I think the hardest part of our work in the Admissions Department is letting go. I have typically spent the last 6+ months working with you. Even if we have not talked often, I feel like I know you. I read your personal statement giving me a glimpse into your life, I have made sure that your i’s are dotted and your t’s are crossed with your home school and host school. I have enjoyed your posts and pics on social media, I have made sure that you registered for classes, that you are happy with your housing, that you have made all of your payments, that you have secured airfare, etc…(lots and lots of etc…), and I have sent you off! You are now in the great hands of our on-site staff but I will be thinking of you and wondering how your term is going. We love getting emails with updates from you letting us know how you are doing. We especially like to hear from you once you are an SAI alum. Let us know how study abroad has affected your career/academic path, and how you have changed.