Education Abroad

Pre-Departure Preparation

U.S. Department of State and Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

Every Ohio State education abroad resident director who is a U.S. citizen is asked to register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate through the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at step.state.gov. Registration will make the program’s presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact resident directors in an emergency. U.S. embassies and consulates can provide both emergency and nonemergency services to American citizens who encounter problems while abroad. 

Non-U.S. citizens can register through the U.S. Department of State travel registration website for travel alerts and travel warning updates only. Those travelers are encouraged to check the website of their home country embassy to find out if they can register their overseas travel. 

Ohio State resident directors should carefully review the “country-specific information” for their host country at travel.state.gov. This includes the contact information and the location of the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate(s) in the host country in the event that a situation arises that necessitates consular assistance. Such situations may include reporting and replacing a lost or stolen passport, locating a medical facility or even seeking legal assistance. Resident directors should also be familiar with the country-specific information and advice in the Safety and Security, Health and Travel and Transportation sections. 

Student Orientation

All students are required to view an online general health and safety orientation and take three assessments, along with the program-specific orientations. The resident director’s presence is important at the program-specific orientations. The students will want to meet them, hear their enthusiasm for the upcoming experience and ask questions about academic work in-country. 

In general, resident directors will work with their education abroad specialist to prepare at least two pre-departure orientation sessions during the semester immediately preceding departure. Since resident directors typically have extensive knowledge of the host culture, they should prepare students by sharing relevant reading recommendations or current event news. Resident directors should also acquaint students with the cultural norms and taboos of the host culture. 

OIA pre-departure orientations have three main goals:

Group Expectations Contract

Many resident directors create a Group Expectations or Behavior Contract prior to departure and in consultation with the students. A Group Expectations Contract is a nonlegal, program-specific document in which the students and the resident director express their expectations for each other and as a group during the education abroad program. Development of the contract with students can be a very useful exercise and an important way for resident directors to establish appropriate behavioral norms and expectations for the group.

Typically, Group Expectation Contracts are short and to the point, expressing group rules such as: 

We agree to: 

Other behavioral expectations might be inserted on account of the program partner or for the health and safety of the students. If a contract includes sanctions or potential consequences leading to dismissal from a program, it should be reviewed by the international risk manager, in consultation with the Office of Student Conduct and the Office of Legal Affairs. 

Campus Resources

While most orientations are conducted by the resident director and education abroad specialist, there are a number of campus units that are willing to lend their expertise, including the international risk manager, Student Conduct, Student Wellness Center and Counseling and Consultation Service. Additionally, resident directors may want to consider contacting The Ohio State University Alumni Association which can put them in touch with alumni living in the host country. 

Resident Director and OIA Program Coordinator Pre-Departure Meetings

Resident directors will likely have several meetings with their education abroad specialist throughout the lifecycle of the education abroad program. In the first meeting, the specialist will review the roles and responsibilities of a resident director and will provide resident directors with helpful resources. Other meetings will be necessary to finalize program details, program budget or cash advance questions, plan orientations and discuss any student issues or challenges that may be present. A final “hand-off” meeting will also be necessary. The education abroad specialist will give resident directors the following items as well as review their use: 

Student Information

Itineraries, Flight Information and Program-Specific Materials

Resident Director Orientations 

All resident directors are required to attend an orientation which will cover emergency response and health and safety overseas. If the resident director will have a cash advance, the OIA business operations unit will provide a GET Card orientation as well. The resident director will receive notification of the time and date for the orientation they are expected to attend. A flash drive with an Excel spreadsheet to record all expenditures will be provided.