Preparing for a Dialogue of Civilizations

Northeastern provides a unique opportunity for students who want to do a study abroad program. Instead of going away for the semester, students who participate in a “Dialogue of Civilizations” go away for one summer term. During this trip, Northeastern students will be traveling with a group of 15-20 students and one or two faculty members. Most trips offer two Northeastern courses on the trip and students will receive full credit for these classes. However, for many, traveling and studying for about a month may seem daunting. Her Campus is here to help! Here are a few steps you can take before going on your trip to make it an easy transition.

1. Figure out which trip you want to go on.

Northeastern offers over 60 opportunities for students to travel around the world (or within the country) during the summer while taking Northeastern classes. Each trip is unique, offering students various experiences while immersing them in a new culture. Many students go on Dialogues that are not related to their majors allowing them to gain experience in fields that they never would have explored otherwise.

2. Make sure all application materials are filled out on time.

Applying to the Dialogues are pretty straightforward. You have to fill out a general application to the Global Experience Office which consists of a few general questions and some short answer questions. Each trip has its own application depending on what the trip entails. There are deadlines for each application so make sure you submit them before the deadlines pass.

3. Sort out any passport issues.

                                                                                             Courtesy of PGCMLS

If you’re going on a trip that travels out of the country, make sure your passport is valid and that you have all required visas to enter the country you are traveling to. Make copies of these pages from your passport and give a copy to someone who will be staying in America so that they have your documents in case of emergency. You should also keep a copy with you in the case that you lose your passport.

4. Turn in any material that the host school needs and more.

Each program operates differently, but some trips are hosted by a school in the country that you will be traveling to. They may require certain forms, so make sure to check your email frequently for updates.

There are also a few websites that you need to register with before departure. Northeastern wants to have a record of where you will be traveling so you’ll have to enter your flight information into MyTravelPlans. You can access this through myNEU. This is so they can keep track of where you’ll be in case of emergency.

You will also have to register with STEP for the same reasons. It is recommended to register all your travel plans for the summer.

5. Attend mandatory pre-departure meetings.

There are multiple meetings that you need to attend before going on the trip. While these may seem redundant and useless, they are actually extremely helpful in terms of preparing you for your trip. You can also take these opportunities to meet the other students going on the trip, and the faculty members who will be leading the trip. Make sure to take notes and pay attention so that you know what logistic steps need to be taken before leaving. It’s worth making a checklist of things to do before your trip

6. Book flights.

For someone who’s never booked a flight before, planning a trip to travel alone can be difficult. Northeastern offers a travel agency to help you with this. It is recommended to do this because then everything is on the record with Northeastern. However, if you are confident and want to book flights on your own, there are many websites you can use to find the cheapest possible flight. Be careful when booking flights as there may be specific times that you must arrive in the country by.

Student Travel Agency: This is the agency that is provided by Northeastern and it is highly recommended. The travel agency will put you in contact with an agent who will communicate with you over email. They will ask for your passport details and when you need to arrive by. They will then give you options for which flights to book.

Kayak: This website searches multiple airlines at once so you don’t have to open 30 tabs comparing each airline fare. (This is what I used as I found a cheaper flight than STA suggested).

Expedia: Expedia is another site that serves the same purpose. You are able to compare flights and adjust your search filter to suit your needs.

7. Pack!

                                                                                   Courtesy of Packtor

Make sure to do your research about the weather where you will be traveling so you can pack appropriately. There are apps and websites that can help you determine how much you need to pack. Keep in mind that you will be living in an apartment with two or three other students, so pack light.

Packtor: Packtor doesn’t only provide a packing list, it also generates a to-do list for before you leave. All you have to do is enter a few details and your list is ready! The website also highlights a few attractions that you can go to while you’re there. It is also available on your phone or tablet so you can access this list while you pack.

Packing Essentials: In a similar fashion, Packing Essentials generates a list for travel preparation, home preparation, and money and documents. There are multiple tabs for different purposes to ensure your trip runs smoothly.

8. Download apps to your phone.

When you register your travel information on MyTravelPlans, you can download a corresponding app called WorldcueMobile. On this app, you can see your travel plans and you also have quick access to emergency hotlines. You can check-in at your current location in case of emergency.

Depending on where you go, the local public transport may have their own app too. This will transform you from a tourist to a local in no time. Since I’m going to Berlin, I’ve downloaded the BVG app so I can keep track of the trains as they come and go. This will also help with navigation. Be sure to check whether there are local apps that would be helpful while you’re abroad.

On the topic of phones, make sure you have a local SIM card, or sign up with an international service with your American provider. It is very important that you are able to be in contact with your peers and your faculty members. Traveling to a new place can also be dangerous, so keeping in contact is extremely important.