How to Study Abroad



The plethora of Internet search engines and frequent flyer miles has made it more common for students to prefer to book their own travel arrangements to their study abroad destinations. As such, international airfare is not included.

Make sure you understand all the restrictions and costs that apply to your fare. Many tickets are non-refundable or you cannot change your return date. Often additional taxes and fuel surcharges apply.

Culture Shock and Re-Entry

What is culture shock?

Culture shock refers to the anxiety a person feels when moved to a completely new environment. The anxiety manifests as a physical and emotional discomfort. Culture shock is a process that evolves over a period of time, and its stages affect people differently. It covers the progression from not knowing to knowing what to do or how to do things or what is appropriate in a new environment. Although one can experience real pain, culture shock is also an opportunity for redefining one's self, for learning and acquiring new perspectives. Culture shock can make one develop a better understanding of one's self and stimulate personal creativity.

What does re-entry mean?

Students who have spent time abroad often experience a similar process upon their return home, which is known as reverse culture shock or re-entry.

Health and Safety

Initial Steps

Your safety and health abroad are important to us. The best way to be safe is to educate yourself by doing research on your current physical and mental health and on your study abroad destination.

  • Get a check up.
  • See the dentist.
  • Seek out host-nationals to speak with regarding what life is like in country.
  • Do you have faculty or friends who have been to the country? Get a good recent history of the country and read it before you go.
  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle here before you go will be important to remaining healthy while you are abroad.

Links and Resources

Travel and Health Insurance

Many of your health insurance plans may not cover general health care while abroad. For Mason Study Abroad programs, we insure each student for emergency evacuation and repatriation of remains. This coverage does not include less severe medical expenses, such as doctors' visits for the flu, medications, or a sprained ankle. The International Student Identity Card also provides students with emergency medical and repatriation coverage. If your medical insurance does not cover you abroad, we recommend you purchase additional insurance to cover medical expenses.

Prior to Departure

Before you depart for your program, it is important that you understand your coverage and how it works. Be aware that in many countries, the cost of medical services must be paid in advance by the patient (and then reimbursed by insurance). Many study abroad program insurance plans only cover you for the duration of the program; you want to be insured if you are traveling independently before or after the program. Look into liability insurance to cover any valuables your will take on the trip, such as a laptop computer, camera, or video recorder. Also consider tuition, trip, travel, and luggage insurance. Do not bring irreplaceable objects, such as family jewelry.

While Abroad

It is recommended that you retain your US health insurance while abroad. Should you have an accident or illness abroad that requires long-term care, you will have health insurance upon your return home to cover these expenses. Otherwise, you may find it difficult to purchase a health plan if you return to the United States with an illness or injury that insurance companies consider to be a pre-existing condition.



Mason Study Abroad invites students to browse through our resource library, which is open to students and the general public Monday through Friday from 9:30 am - 5 pm. We have a large selection of study abroad materials, college and university guides, and a variety of travel literature and videos available for students thinking about studying abroad. Flyers and applications for our short-term programs are always on display at the office. The Resource Library is located in Mason Study Abroad, Johnson Center, Room 235.

Traveling Abroad

Traveling and Living Abroad

The CIA World Factbook is a good place to get a quick overview of a country's political and social structure. The Department of State Study Abroad site provides useful information on health, safety, US consulates and embassies abroad, and how to prepare for your trip.

Passport and Visa Services

If you do not have a passport, apply for one as soon as you have decided to study abroad. Many countries also require a visa for entry. A visa is a document issued by a country allowing an individual to enter the country for a specific purpose during a specific period of time. It can be stamped inside a passport or issued as a separate piece of paper. You will need your passport to apply for a visa. Contact the Embassy or Consulate of the country where you are planning to study abroad for specific information regarding visa requirements and how to obtain one if required.

Currency Converter

A currency converter can help you figure out local currency costs in US dollars.

Incoming Students

Alternative Transportation Options

There are three major airports located in the Washington D.C. Metro area. Therefore there are different alternative transportation options for getting to and from Mason's Campuses using alternative transportation. Below you will find information about each airport and advice on alternative transportation options from the different airports in the D.C. region. Baltimore / Washington International Airport BWI

  • Driving Distance from Mason Fairfax Campus to BWI=53.02 miles
  • Take either the Mason to Metro Shuttle or the CUE Bus to the Vienna-GMU Metro Station.  Hop on the ORANGE Line Metro (the only option at the station).  
    Get off at the L’Enfant Plaza Station and hop onto the GREEN Line toward Greenbelt.  
    At the Greenbelt Metro Station, take the B30 Metrobus to BWI.
  • Taxi Cab
  • Super Shuttle

Dulles International Airport IAD

  • Driving Distance from Mason Fairfax Campus to IAD=15.02 miles
  • Alternative Transportation Options from Mason Fairfax Campus to IAD:
  • Take either the Mason to Metro Shuttle or the CUE Bus to the Vienna-GMU Metro Station.  Hop on the ORANGE Line Metro (the only option at the station). Get off at the Rosslyn Station. Hop onto Metrobus 5A and ride this bus out to IAD.
  • Taxi Cab
  • Super Shuttle Use the discount code "MASON" to receive $5.00 off for a round-trip and $2.00 off for a one-way booking.

Ronald Reagan Washington International Airport DCA

  • Driving Distance from Mason Fairfax Campus to DCA=19.45 miles
  • Alternative Transportation Options from Mason Fairfax Campus to IAD:
  • Take either the Mason to Metro Shuttle or the CUE Bus to the Vienna-GMU Metro Station.  Hop on the ORANGE Line Metro(the only option at the station).  Get off at the Rosslyn Station and hop onto the BLUE Line Metro headed toward Franconia-Springfield.  Get off the train at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport Station.
  • Taxi Cab
  • Super Shuttle