Study Abroad Advice from Tisch Special Programs

Wednesday, Dec 12, 2018

Applying to study abroad can be a daunting process. Preparing to study abroad can be equally intimidating, but neither of these things needs to be!

The Tisch Special Programs Admissions and Student Services teams are here to help you navigate your entire journey, from your initial application to when you arrive at your study abroad destination.

Group photo of the summer 2018 Producing in London class in front of Kensington Palace.

Summer 2018 Producing in London class in front of Kensington Palace.
Photo by Sharon Badal

We recently asked Admissions for some application advice and here’s what they had to say:

What do you wish students applying to study abroad knew about the application process?

We review the applications in total and how you present yourself as a whole is taken into consideration. Students who are able to imbue some of their personality into an application and make us more interested to learn about them as an individual is always welcome. We know how study abroad can be a life-changing experience and we take great care in reviewing each application to determine which students would enhance and benefit from participation in our programs.

What's the number one mistake students make in applying to study abroad?

Some students expect that they will be told everything they need to know before they go, so they do not ask questions or do research.

How should students prepare if they are considering applying to any study abroad program?

You should review the website, seek financial aid funding, speak with your advisor and alumni of the program in advance. Prepare yourself by doing research about the site you want to study at, this way you can make an informed decision when it comes time to confirm your enrollment. And most importantly, be educated and ready for a term abroad.

Are there any application myths you'd like to debunk?

“I can submit my application at the last minute and it will be okay.”

Yes, maybe you can, but why stress yourself out and do that? If you experience any technical issues, that may hinder the process. Plus, a rushed application is more prone to mistakes and will probably not represent you in the best way.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to prospective study abroad applicants?

Do your research and be mindful of deadlines.

Have a particular question for our Admissions team? They have some tips to simplify the process and get you a speedy (and accurate) answer:

  • Keep your email brief! Focus on your questions, not on yourself. This is not the time to tell us how great you are. That is what your application, recommendations, and résumé are for.

  • Minimize the number of questions you ask. Before contacting us, make sure the answers to your questions aren’t easily accessible on our website.

  • Introduce yourself. Give your full name, student status, program name and term of interest, include this in the body of the email. This information is vital in order to provide accurate assistance. Writing your name is John and you're interested in film does not provide enough details. A better message is, “My name is John Starmaker, I'm a junior in Undergraduate Film and I'm interested in the summer 2019 program 35mm Filmmaking in Prague.”

  • Check for spelling and grammatical mistakes.  

  • Be professional. If your email address is anything other than a form of your name or initials, consider creating a new one for college correspondence.

  • We appreciate enthusiasm for our programs but some students are too eager. Some students will pose a question to one admissions representative, and if they don’t like the answer, ask the same question to each other person in the office. If one representative says your GPA is too low for you to get in, all the others will say the same thing.


Video still image. Aerial shot of the brown rooftops of Prague.

Once you are accepted to a study abroad program, the communication shifts from Admissions to Student Services. They provide all of the information you need before you depart for your study abroad location. Student Services also connects with staff on site to offer you support on the ground. So, if you have your passport and confirmed your spot in the program, here’s what Student Services wants you to know:

To pack or not to pack: What should students take abroad and what should they leave behind?

Aside from clothes and comfortable shoes, we generally tell students to pack:

  • Supplements (probiotics, fiber, protein bars, etc.) as the food/diet of the country you will be living in may be different from what you are used to here in the U.S.

  • Medications (prescribed and/or over-the-counter). Especially when speaking about prescription medications, you should make sure you bring enough for the entire time you will be abroad. You should also bring the generic form of your prescription in case you need to refill it while away. Also, OTC medicines in your new city may not be the same as they are here in the U.S., so we recommend that you bring whatever you make take on a regular basis as these medicines may be more expensive or unavailable in your study abroad location.

  • A first aid kit. As we know, "life" just happens when we least expect it to, so packing a first aid kit with the basic essentials is always good to have. Bandaids, OTC medicines, allergy medicine, hand sanitizer, etc. are all good starter items to include in that kit.

We often hear the term "culture shock". What are a few things students should do to familiarize themselves with their new city and its people?

Tips to "Know B4 You Go":

  • Set up a Google alert of your location so you can start receiving daily or weekly updates about the goings-on of your new city.

  • Do some general research of the culture and the different demographics of their new city so you know what to expect.

  • Meet new people and just have a conversation! Not only will you learn about the city and how people there live and interact with one another, but you get to learn a new language and gain a new perspective that has more breadth than your typical tourist experience.

What is a common blindspot students who decide to study abroad often don't prepare for?

Tipping etiquette is different in other countries and your credit cards will not always work or be accepted to pay for things. Especially when going out to restaurants or bars and taking a taxi, tipping etiquette can be different in your new city (and sometimes it may even vary depending on how far outside of the main city you travel). Also, not every establishment or taxi will allow you to use credit/debit cards to pay. You will only be allowed to use cash for transactions, so it's important to remember to always carry some cash with you just in case you need it.

What is one thing students should not be afraid to do while studying abroad?

Don't be afraid to disconnect and cherish the feeling of just being "present". There is just so much going on in every aspect of our daily lives and sometimes we need a break just to re-group, re-energize, and get reacquainted with who we are. Embrace and reflect on the place where you are and let it all in, you won't regret it.  

Collage of images: summer 2016 International Theatre Workshop in Amsterdam class; students filming on set during 35mm Visual Storytelling at FAMU; summer 2018 Commedia dell'Arte class wearing theatrical masks; fall 2017 Shakespeare in Performance at RADA class final presentation of Henry IV.

Students participating in various summer and fall study abroad programs in Amsterdam, Florence, London, and Prague.

Are you ready yet? Remember, do your research and don’t wait until the last minute to apply! Studying abroad is an opportunity you don’t want to miss. Consider the tips and advice shared by Admissions and Student Services and get started on your summer and fall 2019 application! The application deadlines are:

Fall 2019: Friday, February 15, 2019

Summer 2019: Friday, March 1, 2019

Review the eligibility requirements on our website and start planning for your adventure away.