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FAQs


Why study abroad?

The benefits to study abroad are many. Here are a few:

  • Special academic opportunities
  • Foreign language competency
  • Preparation for careers with an international dimension
  • Cross-cultural competence and understanding

How do I choose a seminar?

  • PIIRS sponsors Global Seminar information sessions in the fall and early spring each academic year and in conjunction with the annual Study Abroad Fair in the fall.
  • PIIRS maintains information regarding Global Seminars, including evaluations by former participants, to assist you in selecting the program best suited to your needs and interests.
  • PIIRS' seminar administrators are a resource for students interested in the Global Seminars. You are encouraged to explore your options and discuss your plans with the administrators as well as the seminar directors.

How long is a Global Seminar?

The Global Seminars are six weeks long.

How many students attend the seminar?

Each Global Seminar has a maximum of 15 students and a minimum of 12. Three to five students from the host institution may also enroll in the seminar.

Where can I find the application forms?

Under "Forms" on the main Global Seminars web page and on the web pages of the individual seminars, as well as on the "Applications Information" page.

What happens once my application is submitted?

Applicant interviews are held in late February. Acceptance e-mails will be sent out in early March. The deadline to reserve a place in the seminar is late March. A nonrefundable deposit of $500 will be charged to each seminar student's account by April 1.

Should I make my own travel arrangements?

Students are required to make their own flight arrangements to and from the seminar. Transfer information will be available before departure: transportation from the airport to the university, apartment, or hotel will be arranged for you, or specific information on taxis or other public transportation to your accommodation will be provided. You will need to complete the travel database before you depart the U.S. for your Global Seminar.

What documents do I need to provide once I enroll in the seminar?

  • Passport
  • Completed visa application form and supporting documents if required (PIIRS will help obtain the travel visa, see below)
  • Passport photos (2) for the visa, if required 
  • Flight itinerary
  • Completed profile on University Travel Database
  • Two copies of the University Health Services confidential travel medical profile and consent for care form in envelopes marked "confidential"
  • Emergency contact information

My passport expires a month after the seminar concludes. Is that okay?

No. For U.S. passport holders, most countries require that the passport be valid for at least six months beyond the departure date and have at least two blank pages for the visa.

A student holding a non-U.S. passport should check with his or her  government’s embassy for specific requirements.

How do I get a passport?

Please refer to the U.S. State Department website for passport information and an application. Forms are available online or at the post office, which also may offer application processing by appointment.

A student holding non-U.S. passport should contact his or her government's embassy regarding plans for foreign travel.

Do I need a visa?

The seminar administrator will assist students in determining the required visa documentation based on their citizenship. The seminar administrator will coordinate the submission of visa applications with Travisa, a visa expediting service.

Can I arrive at the seminar early or leave later and stay at the seminar hotel or host university dormitory for the additional days?

The seminar housing fee collected by PIIRS covers accommodations for only the advertised dates of the seminar. At a seminar hotel, extra nights can be arranged and paid for by seminar students. Dormitories at host universities generally do not accommodate students for additional nights; students will have to make their own arrangements, if needed, at a local hotel and cover all expenses. Your seminar administrator may be able to recommend a reasonably priced hotel in the host city.

What type of community service is planned?

The seminars include a community service component. The seminar director will provide the full details.

Do I need health/travel insurance?

Yes. All participants MUST have proof of up-to-date health/travel insurance.

How can I learn about health concerns in the host country?

University Health Services will provide information on required immunizations and other health precautions (e.g., regarding water and food).

What if I have a medical emergency abroad?

  • Students are covered by the International SOS program through Princeton University and will be given an ID card prior to travel. International SOS customer service will assist with locating medical assistance as well as provide recommendations for dealing with other emergency situations. Students and parents should familiarize themselves with the International SOS program by visiting its website.
  • All emergencies should be reported to the seminar director who may consult with onsite staff to determine the best way to handle the situation.
  • U.S. embassies abroad can direct U.S. citizens to medical care in a foreign country. They may also provide additional assistance in cases of severe emergencies.

Will I be able to purchase my preferred brand of over-the-counter medicines?

You should bring any preferred brands of over-the-counter medications such as cold and flu tablets or antidiarrheal, etc. If you are taking any prescription medications, we advise you bring slightly more than you'll need for the duration of your stay.

What student policies apply to the Global Seminars?

Princeton University regulations on conduct, health, safety, and academic integrity apply to all Global Seminars. Additionally, students are subject to the regulations of the host institutions. Please consult the University's Rights, Rules, and Responsibilities publication for more information.

How much spending money shall I bring?

Each seminar website will post a recommended amount of spending money on its Costs and Financial Aid page. You’ll need enough to cover entertainment, transportation, and meals during your free time, as well as any shopping you may want to do.

How can I stay in touch when I’m abroad?

Cell phones

Purchasing an International Plan

Your cell phone will continue to be your best friend while traveling. Each carrier has an international plan that you might consider adding. Contact your carrier to find out if they offer roaming service in the areas where you will be traveling and whether your particular device will operate in the frequencies used there and whether it is designed for international calling. Do this well ahead of your departure date to make sure all the changes you want will be active when you land.

Check with your carrier about plans and exact rates for:
  • Voice – e.g., sign up for discount per-minute rates
  • Data – prepay. For example, with Verizon, access is unlimited for $24.99; with ATT, an incremental plan is generally available for purchase (20 MB per month is $24.99 and up). NB: Be mindful of data charges when traveling abroad. The rates for data are more expensive than voice or text. Check with your carrier about how to avoid unexpected charges.
  • Texting – buy a plan or you pay as you go.

SIM Cards

An unlocked GSM handset may be a less expensive alternative to an international calling plan. Inserting a SIM card from a local carrier will allow you to make inexpensive local phone calls and cheap texting to cell phones in the same country. Check with your carrier about whether you have a GSM device and how to unlock it. CDMA-only and iDEN phones do not use local SIM cards. Some carriers offer “world phones” that do use them. There are drawbacks to these, however.

SIM cards may be purchased at your destination. With it, you will be assigned a local number and may not be able to use some features of your phone. You will not be able to receive any calls, texts, or voicemails sent to your U.S. phone number while using a local SIM card. There are also companies to contact ahead of time to get a SIM, but you need to make sure the SIM is appropriate for your phone. One site to check out is  http://freesim.orange.co.uk/.

Skype

We highly recommend that Skype be installed on laptops to communicate with families and with PIIRS while you’re traveling. Skype can be downloaded for free at http://www.skype.com/intl/en-us/home . Skype-to-Skype calls are free. A plan for calls to land lines and cell phones can be ordered and paid for in advance of the trip. For example, unlimited calling via Skype to North America from Ireland is $7.99/month.