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Myths and FAQs

Myths and FAQs
There is no doubt in anyone's mind who has studied abroad that it is one of the greatest decisions they ever made. No one ever began the process as an expert. We understand that a decision of this magnitude will come with many questions and you may even encounter some detractors who will try to spread myths about studying abroad. 

Study Abroad Myths Debunked
MYTH: Study abroad is only for certain majors.
FACT: All UM students can study abroad. For many students, study abroad can easily be applied to their major with planning. All students can effortlessly incorporate a study abroad program into their academic roadmap.
MYTH: I must know a foreign language to study abroad.
FACT:  While some programs focus on language learning, the vast majority of our programs afford students the opportunity to take courses in English, even in non-English speaking countries.
MYTH: Studying abroad is too expensive, and I cannot afford it.
FACT: Contrary to popular belief, it does not cost a fortune to study abroad! If you go on an exchange program, you’ll pay the same tuition as you do to come to school in Oxford for a semester. Couple that with being able to use your current financial aid package, and studying abroad becomes affordable. There are also great scholarship opportunities out there like the Gilman, Boren, DAAD, and Fulbright, just to name a few.  Check out our Financial Aid and Scholarships page for the most up to date links!
MYTH: I won’t be able to graduate on time if I study abroad.
FACT: If you approach this experience with the goal of graduating on time, you should easily be able to fit your study abroad in your college career. By going through a course approval process, you’ll know exactly what credit you are earning before you leave. It also helps if you plan your college career out in advance so that you can plan to take certain classes abroad.  Talk with an academic advisor about your plans as you map out your college career.
MYTH: I must be a certain major to go to a certain country.
FACT: Generally speaking, any major can go to any country they desire. All countries are great for all majors. Our partnerships include comprehensive universities around the world, so you will be able to find courses toward your major requirements in every country where we offer programs.Generally speaking, any major can go to any country they desire. All countries are great for all majors. Our partnerships include comprehensive universities around the world, so you will be able to find courses toward your major requirements in every country where we offer programs.

Frequently Asked Questions
What is and what isn’t studying abroad?
Study abroad is an incredible opportunity to do what you’ve never done before. You can spend months living in a country you’ve only seen on maps. You can immerse yourself in a culture that is utterly different from your own. You can escape the world view you’ve grown up with, break out of a comfort zone, and redefine yourself in countless ways. You can learn at universities renowned throughout the world and challenge your pace in the scheme of the universe. You can make incredible friends who are incredibly different from you in every way. You can see your ego and national identity transformed in ways you never would have imagined.
Study abroad is scary. Starting a new life in an unfamiliar country can be intimidating, and while we hope to prepare you as best we can, we know that we can’t answer every question. Acknowledge the risks and the unknowns, take a deep breath, and dive into the experience.
Study abroad is amazing. For many students, the experience is so positive in so many ways that they can’t even begin to put it into words. Similarly, many put it into too many words and never stop talking about how cool their trip was. If you let it, study abroad has the potential to work wonders for you.
Most importantly, study abroad is what you make of it. Be smart, be flexible, be educated, and be prepared. Go in with the right attitude and an open mind and you won’t regret it!
Study abroad is not easy. It’s not just a trip that you take to another country—it’s an all-encompassing experience during which you try to make that new country your home.  Study abroad shakes you out of your comfortable patterns and makes you ask hard questions and see yourself and your world in a new context. Don’t expect any of that to be easy.
Study abroad will not be everything you think it is. There’s no real formula for what happens during your months away from home, and the only safe thing to assume is that many of your predictions will turn out to be wrong. You’ll be challenged in ways you could not have expected and you’ll rise to those challenges in ways you didn’t know you could. Be prepared for the unexpected.

Study abroad is not a vacation. While there will be countless opportunities for fun and craziness and relaxation of many different flavors, don’t let yourself ignore the “study” component of study abroad. While much of your learning will happen outside the classroom, you should try not to ignore your classes at the foreign university. You don’t want to flunk your courses and lose academic credit back at your home institution. Nor do you want to miss out on interacting with local professors and students—those who can often make or break the quality of your study abroad experience.
How does the process work?
It starts out asking, “What exactly am I looking for?” and “What do I wish to accomplish during my time abroad?”  Are you curious about another culture, do you want to learn about the world, do you crave adventure, or do you just want to try something new? Once you figure out what you want to do, the next step is to then figure out the best program to meet your needs.
We, as advisors, can help you in matching your needs with our program offerings. Our programs can run anywhere between a two-week intersession program to an academic year.  Students can study abroad more than once!  If you are nervous about traveling internationally, choosing a shorter program early in your college career will encourage and embolden you to spend a semester or year abroad later!
How can I prepare for my study abroad advisor appointment?
The first thing we recommend is to come to our office with an open mind. This entire process is one where you will have to be fairly flexible. We do have limitations on the amount of students we can send on particular programs, so please keep that in mind.
Once you come into our office, be prepared to speak about what you’re looking to accomplish. It’s ok to be undecided on where you want to go at first, but we can help guide you to particular locations when we know what you are looking to do while abroad.

It helps your study abroad advisor greatly if you have narrowed down your options to a handful of locations and have done some research before you make an appointment.  Please do some searches on this website and come prepared to talk about your options.  Attend an information session before making an appointment, and come prepared with questions.
How can I afford to study abroad?
Studying abroad can certainly be expensive when you factor in cost of living increases in certain countries and currency exchange as it relates to the US Dollar. However, studying abroad at UM, particularly as an exchange student, is very affordable. You can, generally speaking, use your financial aid scholarships to help finance your time abroad. For specific financial aid questions, please contact the Financial Aid office.  

Scholarships are also available for particular countries or the study of particular languages.  Check out the Financial Aid and Scholarships page for more information.  This list is not inclusive, use Google to search for even more scholarships.

Third-party scholarships may have very early deadlines, so research early and often.

We highly recommend creating a budget based on your current expenses at the University of Mississippi and living in Oxford (tuition, non-resident fees, rent, utilities, gas, food, meal plan, personal spending money, etc.).  Compare the Oxford budget to the cost of a study abroad program.  You will likely find that the costs are quite similar, especially when you can use financial aid and scholarships.  Factor in the exchange rate in the host country - are purchases cheaper or more expensive?  What is the cost of living in your host country?  Is it less than Oxford?  You may find that spending a semester or a year abroad is cheaper than studying in Oxford!
Do I need a passport and visa to study in a foreign country?
Every person needs a passport to even travel to another country.  Make sure that you have the passport booklet, as opposed to just the passport card. Information on how to obtain or renew your passport can be found on the State Department’s website.
In terms of visa requirements, each program is different, so you will want to check with your study abroad advisor to get information on visas for your specific program.
I don’t speak another language, but I really want to study abroad in a non-English speaking country. Can I still do that?
Absolutely! The language of instruction at most of our exchange partner universities is English.
Some universities will require students to have a good grasp of the local language, though, so you will want to check with your advisor about language requirements.
How does grading work while studying abroad?
If you’re going on a short-term faculty-directed program, you’ll receive a grade from the professor at the conclusion of the program as outlined in the syllabus for the course.
If you’re going on a program at another university or provider, the process will depend on the location. Generally speaking, at the conclusion of your program, our office will receive your academic transcript from abroad. These transcripts do not come immediately at the conclusion of your program. In fact, in some cases, transcripts won’t get to our office until a couple of months after your return to the United States.

Students will receive an Incomplete grade at the end of the term abroad.  This is a placeholder until your transcript and an updated (if necessary) course approval form arrives at the Study Abroad Office.  Do not worry if you receive an Incomplete, but you must make sure the Study Abroad Office receives your transcript and a matching course approval form before the Incomplete turns into an F!  
Once we receive the transcript, we will compare it to your course approval form. If the classes match up, we will evaluate it and send everything to the Registrar’s Office for them to post on your account. If they do not match, we will contact you to get the courses approved, as we cannot send anything to the Registrar without approval from a UM department.
Each country has their own grading scale. We use the local grading scale on the host university transcript and the WES grading scale to “translate” foreign transcripts to United States grades.
As outlined by University of Mississippi policy, we operate on the plus/minus scale. We DO NOT allow students to audit classes.
I have a friend from another US institution that I’m studying abroad with and their university allows their grades to be pass/fail. Does UM offer pass/fail credit too?
No. The only way you can receive a pass/fail grade is if the UM course equivalent is a pass/fail or if it is indicated as a pass/fail course on your foreign transcript.
How many hours must I take while abroad?
If you’re going abroad for a semester, you must come back with the equivalent of 12 hours. Some students, particularly students who receive funding from the State of Mississippi, must transfer 15 hours of credit per semester.  Check with your advisor to see how many courses that is in your country of destination.  Shorter programs generally do not have minimum hour requirements.