Griffith Short-term Programs Pre-departure Guide Template

Griffith Short-term Programs
Pre-departure Guide
Outbound Mobility Best Practice Guide for Australian Universities Short-term Pre-departure Guide
Griffith University
Exchange Program
Pre-departure Guide
Short-term Students
Exchange Contacts at Griffith University
Camilla Graham
International Office (N12)
Griffith University
Nathan Campus
170 Kessels Road
Queensland, 4111
Tel: +61 7 3735 6518 Fax: +61 7 3735 6646
Email: [email protected]
Katie Rennick
International Office (G33)
Griffith University
Parklands Drive
Gold Coast QLD 4222
Tel: +61 7 5552 8300
Email: [email protected]
Other Contacts
You are advised to list the details of any academic staff member/s you may need to contact whilst on
exchange. This will be particularly important if you need to make changes to your enrolment and
approvals after your arrival at your exchange institution.
Short-Term Program Coordinator:
(name )
(telephone & email)
Travel Arrangements
Safety and Security
While you are about to embark on an exciting and challenging adventure, it is important to be mindful of
safety and security concerns as you make your travel plans. You should check the Department of Foreign
Affairs and Trade (DFAT) website located at for:
• Travel and Health advice and bulletins
• Passport and visa information
• Information about registering your presence with an Australian Embassy overseas
All Australian citizens can access the consular emergency centre which is open 24 hours. The number is
+61 2 6261 3305. For international students, please note down the consulate information for your
Passport & Visas
Make sure the passport/s you intend to use are current and will not expire while you are on
exchange or shortly after
Check into your travel responsibilities if you have dual citizenship, particularly if you intend to
travel with more than one passport. (
Exchange students usually require a student visa or authorisation for entry to your host country.
Do not assume you can convert other categories of visas eg: tourist status, into student status.
Check consulates and embassies for visa application procedures before you leave Australia. Do
not assume anything when it comes to immigration matters.
Make sure you are aware of work limitations on your student visa, if these apply.
If you intend to travel beyond your host country, it is advisable that you find out about visa
requirements for those other countries before you leave Australia. There may be restrictions or
time delays if you apply for visa papers in a country other than your home country.
Permanent residents must check if their status will be affected if they leave Australia. They may
need a Resident Return Visa (RRV).
If in doubt about any aspect of the process and your status, please ask the relevant authorities.
Travel, Tickets & Arrival
Purchase a flexible ticket, if you can afford one, to make changes in planning easier to
To avoid complications with immigration officials your ticket should show an onward journey from
your host country. It is advisable not to purchase one-way tickets.
Check that all ticket details are correct. Make sure you understand the meaning of code-share
flights if you book with one of the airline partnership programs. Eg: QF3001 (Qantas) San
Francisco to New York is AA32 (American Airlines) within the USA. This relationship is not always
made clear on notice boards at the overseas airline terminal.
Confirm your flight at least 72 hours prior to departure.
Obtain a map of the arrival terminal that services your airline. This will help you to navigate. Some
airports are very large and you may need to get from one terminal to another quickly for a
connecting flight.
Plan how you will get from the airport to your host institution or place of accommodation before
you leave Australia. Connections are not always straightforward.
Arrive early enough to allow time to settle into your accommodation and new environment before
the Orientation Program starts and actual semester commences.
Arrive even earlier if you need to find off-campus accommodation.
Temporary & Permanent Accommodation
Has information already been sent to you by your host university about accommodation
Make sure you are clear about the type of permanent accommodation facilities that have been
provided for you. This includes location, limitations and whether you are sharing a room with one
or more students, such as in a dorm.
If you are going to a country where English is not the main language of communication, it would
be wise for you to get the address of your temporary or permanent accommodation written in the
foreign language spoken in that country.
Book a few nights temporary accommodation in a youth hostel, motel, YMCA, etc. for when you
arrive, particularly if you are arriving on a weekend or during a public holiday period. Travel
guides or the internet often provide listings of budget accommodation. Book this before you leave
Be aware that you may have to live in off-campus housing especially where demand for oncampus accommodation is high. This is particularly the case for students starting their exchange
in the middle of the overseas academic year (eg: January or February). Most host universities
have an Accommodation Service or can provide listings of off-campus accommodation to help
you find something suitable. Local newspapers and the internet may also provide the same
Griffith University now provides all outgoing students with travel and health insurance through ACE
Insurance Limited. You will be covered for the duration of your overseas program plus 5 personal days.
If you plan to undertake additional travel for more than five days either, before or after your program then
you MUST purchase additional health and travel insurance to be covered. You can do this through the
university’s insurance provider ACE via their website:
You may also like to purchase additional insurance through an alternative provider. Please note that
many providers will not give you insurance if you apply from overseas – you must purchase any additional
travel insurance before you leave Australia.
The university insurance policy is through ACE Insurance and covers health, personal effects and other
benefits. To receive the insurance you must submit your flight itinerary to the exchange office before you
Details of the Griffith Insurance Policy will be sent to you – please keep these handy as they have the
relevant contact details.
International students participating in the Exchange program must continue to pay their Overseas Student
Health Cover (OSHC) to Griffith as normal. The above insurance through ACE Insurance will cover you
for your overseas travel but only allows for repatriation back to Australia, not your home country. In the
event that you have an accident, you will be brought back to Australia and then treated here for your
injuries. It is very important that your OSHC is maintained to reduce the risk of you incurring significant
medical costs in Australia.
Administrative Responsibilities
Change of Address - Compulsory
Please update the details of your exchange address through the Griffith Portal. This is so we can
contact you in the case of an emergency.
Check your Griffith email regularly as all official Griffith notices will be sent to your student email. You can
forward your Griffith email account to an external provider such as hotmail or gmail – details can be found
Centrelink Benefits
If you are currently in receipt of Centrelink benefits you are eligible to continue to receive payments for up
to 13 weeks travel outside of Australia. Information about this can be found at Centrelink’s Website
For enquiries regarding your payments whilst overseas, contact Centrelink International Services as
(This website also contains a list of international toll-free numbers for some countries)
Telephone: 13 1673 or Toll-free 1800 050 041 from within Australia or +61 3 6222 3455 if you are
NB: You can authorise a friend or family member to liaise with Centrelink on your behalf while you are
overseas. The forms are available from all Centrelink offices.
Scholarships and Tax
Scholarships provided by Griffith University (IEIS) and the Department of Education, Employment and
Workplace Relations (DEEWR) are not considered income for taxation purposes. You can check the
Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website for confirmation and to ensure that any scholarships you may
receive from private sources are exempt
A Matter of Packing!
Be aware that airports have strict security requirements for safety reasons.
Never carry items for strangers and make sure that you have packed your own suitcases and
know what they contain.
Consider purchasing TSA (Transport Security Administration) approved luggage locks which can
be easily opened and locked again by customs and security officers, thus minimising theft due to
broken luggage locks.
Double check carry-on requirements before leaving for the airport in case extreme restrictions
Pack your most personal and valuable items in your carry-on bag to minimise loss if your
baggage is misplaced!
Make sure that nothing in your carry-on bag can be construed as a weapon eg: nail files, nail
scissors, pen knife, etc.
Pack lightly but prepare for changes in temperature by wearing several layers of clothing.
Some destinations will be extremely cold in winter! Bring at least one heavy weight coat and one
waterproof one or be prepared to purchase a heavy weight coat in your host country.
Universal travel adapters may be needed for electronic items. They are available from travel
stores and at the airport.
Laptops are useful if computer facilities are not going to be adequate. Bring receipts just in case
you need proof of purchase at customs. See following section on Customs, Quarantine & Other
Bring spare passport photos for additional immigration documentation or student cards.
Be aware of the rules for taking liquids, aerosols and gels on flights into and out of Australia for
carry on baggage.
Pack a special ‘Care Package’ of photos, favourite lollies, vegemite, Tim Tams, eucalyptus
leaves, nick nacks, etc., to bring with you and remind you of home. You never know when this will
come in handy! Your new friends may also like to sample something uniquely ‘Australian’.
Update your address book, including phone and fax numbers, email and home addresses
(including Griffith University academics).
Don’t forget copies of your Academic Approvals & STUDY PLAN.
Don’t overpack! You can buy many things overseas especially toiletries.
Check weight restrictions for your flight. Charges for excess baggage can be high. If you do
overpack, it is cheaper to send the extra luggage via unaccompanied baggage services than
using the airline for excess baggage.
Customs, Quarantine & Other Restrictions
Departing Australia – If you are departing Australia with expensive items (such as computers,
cameras and video cameras) and you intend to bring them back to Australia, you can register
these items with Customs. Proof of ownership in the form of receipts for jewellery and other
goods not readily identifiable will help when you present the goods on return.
Once registered, you do not need to declare these articles to Customs on your return to Australia
but you should keep the registration form handy in case Customs has any questions.
You may take any personal goods out of Australia without having to pay duty/tax on these goods
when you return (other than items that you purchased duty/tax free in Australia before your trip
and which are in excess of your duty free concession).
Goods purchased duty or tax free in Australia must be taken with you and inspected at the
departure point. You may also need to declare these on your return.
More information about customs matters can be located on the Australian Customs Service
website at under the section for ‘Travellers’.
You can also email: [email protected] or call a Customs Information Centre on 1300
363 263 from anywhere in Australia or +61 2 6275 6666 from outside Australia.
Entering countries overseas – Be very clear about customs requirements and quarantine
restrictions that may apply in the country you are travelling to especially with expensive items and
medication. Bring relevant documentation, receipts, etc., to assist with clearing customs if
Sample Packing List
• Two day overnight packpack
• Bath towel
• Batteries
• Camera
• Compact umbrella
• Contact Lenses (extra pair)
• Contraceptives
• Converter/Adapter (for electric current)
• Eye Glasses (extra pair)
• Flashlight
• Journal
• Money belt (invaluable for carrying important travel documents ie tickets passport, money)
• Photos of family
• Rain gear
• Resume (for Internship programs)
• Sleeping bag/Cover sheet (for weekend excursions)
• Snacks eg: muesli bars to keep you going until you find a local grocery store
• Tissue packets
• Travel books ( Let’s Go…, Lonely Planets)
• Travel size hygiene products
• Traveller’s alarm clock
• Uni supplies
• Youth Hostel Card
• Zip lock plastic bags to assist separate but keep items in your luggage identifiable
Medical Matters
You should arrange to have full medical and dental check-ups prior to departure. Dental
emergencies can be incredibly expensive so make sure you visit a Dentist before you leave.
Have all necessary vaccinations. Information can be found on the Travel Doctor website at
The Griffith Health Service (on campus at Nathan and Gold Coast) can supply vaccines to
students at a discounted rate so contact them directly for more information
Take copies of optical prescriptions (a spare pair of sunglasses or contact lenses if possible).
Sending or taking medicine under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) out of the country
may be illegal unless it is for your personal use, or the personal use of someone travelling with
you. Fines are steep and range up to $5,000 and/or two years in jail. Before sending or taking
medicine subsidised under the PBS, you should:
- contact the embassy of the country you are visiting to ensure the medicine is legal there.
- You should take with you a detailed letter from your doctor explaining any ongoing/existing
medical conditions and medication that may be required in case this is demanded by
Australian and overseas customs officials. Include both the chemical and commercial
names of any medication.
- Leave personal medication in original packaging so it is clearly labelled with your name and
For more information please go to
Counselling Services at Griffith
Even though you are overseas you are still entitled to make use of any of the Student Services at
Griffith including counselling. Often the counselling staff can call you overseas to assist with any
questions or concerns that you may have. All the contact details can be found on their website at
Alternatively you can contact Camilla or Katie who can then arrange for someone to call you
As an exchange student at your host university you will be entitled to use their student services
as well so please contact them for more information.
Money and Taxation
Find out what services are available with your Australian credit cards (eg. cash advances, Cirrus
and Maestro network). Please note that cash advance charges are quite high and it is advisable
not to use these unless you are desperate. Credit services usually have conversion charges at a
certain percentage, as well as interest charges if you do not pay off your balance by the due date.
Have sufficient local currency on arrival for immediate expenses (eg: bus to accommodation) and
for other start up costs such as bond, initial registrations for various services/facilities, etc. These
can be considerable so be prepared for this.
If you take travellers cheques, keep a list of cheque numbers separate from the cheques.
Cash passports may be an option for you to consider. They are regarded as a safer, more
convenient way to get cash overseas. These are pre-paid PIN protected travel money cards.
They can be purchased from STA Travel
Irregular shaped cards issued by providers such as Virgin or Aussie may not work at overseas
ATMs, and there are reported incidences where these cards have been ‘swallowed’ and not been
returned back.
Wear a money belt when travelling around.
If you can obtain part-time work in your host country, you may need to open up a bank account.
In some cases you will need a letter of introduction from a bank indicating that you have an
account within Australia and that you are of good standing. Try to obtain a letter of introduction
prior to leaving.
When opening up a bank account overseas, try to do so with a large national bank as opposed to
a state/local bank where charges might be higher and branches less accessible.
Make sure that someone at home has authority to act on your behalf ie: is authorised to be your
Power of Attorney. They should be able to transfer money to you immediately.
Ask your local branch about the procedures for wiring money to an overseas account.
Please note that typical services available in Australia may not be used frequently in your host
country. Some countries will not use EFTPOS as widely as Australia does. Some may use
cheques more frequently. Some may primarily rely on cash. Some automatic teller machines
(ATMs) may have restricted hours of operation.
You should find out what your tax obligations may be in your host country. The Exchange
Program Office at your host university should be able to advise you with these matters. You may
be able to obtain tax refunds for countries that have a Goods and Services Tax overseas
depending on the length of your stay.
BUDGET, BUDGET, BUDGET! You must exercise some financial planning especially noting the
fluctuating exchange rates. Check out the latest exchange rates using the OANDA Classic 164
Currency Converter at . You can also obtain cheat sheets to assist with
exchange rate conversions from this site.
The Important Document Folder
Photocopy your airline ticket, passport, visas, credit cards, traveller’s cheques. Pack one copy in
hand luggage and leave one copy at home with a relative or friend. It’s also a good idea to scan
these and email them to yourself so you will have an electronic copy.
Bring this Predeparture Guide, copies of your Academic Approvals (study plans), and other
important exchange related paperwork both from Griffith University and your host university.
Identification papers or certified copies of these such as your birth certificate, Queensland and
international driver’s licence, proof of citizenship, etc. There are Justices of the Peace on campus
who can certify your documents or you can take them to your nearest courthouse.
Medical records and any required prescriptions.
Bank details in case you need to contact your branch in Australia about a missing or stolen credit
Miscellaneous Items....
International Student Identity Card
ISIC is the only internationally accepted proof of student status. More information can be found on . This card accesses a world-wide network of
specialist student travel offices offering you savings on accommodation, tours and transportation.
ISIC application forms are available at STA travel branches.
Laws and Customs
In being an ambassador for Griffith University, we encourage you to be respectful of the laws and
customs of your home country. You are subject to the rules and regulations of the host institution
and could be subject to disciplinary action if you breach these.
Note the legislation regarding alcohol in your host country. The legal drinking age may be higher
than that in Australia (eg: it is 21 for the USA).
Driving in Your Host Country
Check driving regulations in your host country if you intend to drive sometime during your stay.
You may be able to use your QLD licence with certain restrictions.
You may be able to use an International Drivers Licence in your host country. Applications for an
International Drivers Licence can be obtained from RACQ branches. Website:
Get to Know Your Destination
The Basics
It seems too obvious to mention but it is important that you get to know a little about your destination prior
to your arrival to assist in your adjustment on exchange.
Orientation – maps of campus, city, country
Currency, exchange rate, cost of living
Climate and weather
Main languages spoken and dialects, typical lingo, slang and greetings
Estimated costs of basic essentials (eg: postage, phone calls, etc.)
Transport system from airport and around town – well serviced or not?
General history and geography of city/country
Political system, social customs, religion, attitudes, values, dress code, social etiquette, etc.
Measurement and voltage differences
Expectations – different academic, administrative, social systems (some more and some less
efficient than what you may be used to.)
Practical Matters – Arrival
Arriving in Time
Confirm the commencement date of your short-term program and make sure you arrive with ample time
to settle in comfortably, orientate yourself and make a few friends. You should arrive much earlier if you
need to find your own accommodation.
Cultural Adjustment
Differences are normal in a foreign culture. The changes could be fascinating and exciting and frustrating
and confusing all at the same time. Managing your expectations and keeping an open mind are keys to
adjusting successfully. Here are a few websites with information about cultural adjustments. Hopefully
they will provide you with tips to tackle all the range of experiences you will face in your new environment:
You should make contact with the relevant department at your host institution soon after arrival,
to settle any last minute administration required prior to Orientation and the commencement of
The Exchange Office both at Griffith University and at your host university should be able to
contact you at all times.
Email – Use your Griffith University email account . If you use an email account other than
your Griffith University account, please ensure you set up your Griffith account to forward to your
other preferred email accounts. This will ensure that you continue to receive important University
Gain access to email facilities at your University as quickly as possible. This will assist and
expedite the lines of communication with Heads of Department, Faculty Offices and the
Exchange Office should advice be needed.
If you are travelling for extended periods of time during the vacation it would helpful for us to have
a contact person in Australia who may be able to forward urgent messages.
If you are having any difficulties during your exchange, please contact your host institution’s
Exchange or relevant department office. Also feel free to contact the Griffith Exchange office at
anytime. We are here to assist you however we can.
Phone – Various phone cards can be purchased for convenience and to save costs at hostel and
pay phones. Within your host country, you can purchase pre-paid phone cards for use or the local
sim cards. If possible SKYPE is an easy and cheap way to stay in touch with your family.
Safety and Security
Exercise the normal caution you would if you were living in your home city with your personal
belongings and personal safety.
Never assume the safety level of your destination
Report any incidents to the Exchange office at your host university immediately and any local
authorities. Follow this up by contacting our office as soon as you can.
Academic Matters
Tuition Fees
Many short-term programs are fee paying and this is managed by the host university overseas or a
third party provider – please contact them directly for advice on how to arrange the payment.
Credit Transfer
Most students will receive credit for their short-term exchange, however, if this does not apply to
you please disregard the following information.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you have all of the necessary documentation to receive full
credit for the courses you have completed at the host institution.
Credit will be transferred upon successful completion of your overseas exchange
When your exchange is completed, check with the Exchange office at the host institution before
you leave to make sure the original will be sent directly to Griffith’s Exchange office.
Once transcripts are received by the Exchange Office, they will be matched to your study plan.
Upon receipt of your Exchange report, the documents will be sent to the credit office to be
If you changed subjects overseas, please ensure the additional approvals are emailed to the
Exchange coordinator
Please note that your Griffith transcript will not record the overseas subjects but only the credit
value of those subjects i.e “40CP of Electives granted towards studies undertaken at Lund
University, Sweden”
Due to the time lag between receiving overseas transcripts and the processing time within the
faculty, the credit transfer process may take up to one month to be finalised.
Once the Exchange Office has forwarded your transcript to the credit office, it is your
responsibility to liaise directly with them to follow up on the progress.
You can check your Student Centre in the Griffith to see if the credit transfer has been finalised.
Exchange Report
Your credit will not be transferred until you have emailed a copy of your exchange report to the Exchange
Coordinator at Griffith.
The report is simply an overview of your exchange experience including any advice or
tips you may have for prospective students. The reports will be published on our
website so please include some photos of yourself at or around the University where
you studied. The report can be as long as you like but preferable around a page or page
and a half. Include really basic information such as accommodation costs, transport,
academic life, costs of living etc. The exchange office will email you a copy of the
exchange report form when you return.
Graduating Students
Students may be eligible to graduate at the completion of their overseas program. Please contact
your faculty before you leave to confirm whether you have completed enough credits towards
your major/other requirements to take out your degree.
You will only be eligible to graduate once the results from your host university have been credited
to your Griffith University degree. Griffith cannot acknowledge your eligibility to graduate until this
is done.
More information about Griffith Graduations is available on the internet at Student Administration can provide you with a letter of
completion if you need this for any job applications if your credit is not transferred in time for the
graduation ceremonies. If you need your results credited quickly, you will need to advise the
credit office of this and ensure you supply all required documents as soon as possible.
The credit office will do their best to expedite your grades conversion in these cases. Though,
they cannot act until receipt of the Overseas Transcript and your study plan forms.
Practical Matters - Returning Home
Australian Customs & Quarantine Issues
Remember to pack your receipts and other relevant documentation to assist Australian Customs with
assessing customs duty/sales tax on items you may have purchased overseas.
More information about quarantine issues can be found on the Australia Quarantine and Inspection
Service website at More information about customs matters can be located on the
Australian Customs Service website at
Touching Base on your Return
We encourage you to drop by our office once you have returned from your exchange. This will assist us in
compiling your final paperwork for your credit transfer. Most of all, we would be happy to catch up with
you and find out how the exchange went and how you are adjusting to your return home.
Reverse Culture Shock
Culture shock on arrival in your host country is something that many students prepare for. You expect
differences and mentally prepare for these. “Re-entry” or “reverse” culture shock is not something that
most students expect when they return home and yet it is this lack of expectation that can make it more
It is important for you to realise that coming home can be a challenging experience. You have just
returned from the adventure of your life-time. Yet while you were away, things have changed back home
as well. All the “moving on” can result in your feeling a little disjointed, or out of place at home.
You may experience restlessness, depression, anxiety, boredom, uncertainty, reverse homesickness,
changes in goals, etc. You may even want to leave Australia again even though you have just returned
There are some tips that may help you in this re-adjustment phase:
• Remember the transition to your host culture as you may encounter similar experiences returning
to Australia. The stages of re-entry include: initial euphoria, irritability or hostility, gradual
adjustment and adaptation.
• Understand that your friendships and relationships may have changed as a result of your new
experiences. Adjust your expectations.
• Explore new places and people with whom you can share your international experiences. Join an
international club or offer to assist the Exchange Office with our international student support.
Share your experiences with other like-minded exchange students.
• Take advantage of the coping skills you used when adjusting to culture shock overseas, however,
seek professional advice if you feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with your experiences.
• Recognise that you may need some time to adjust to all the changes you have been through and
be patient with yourself. Accept the reality that re-entry is a time of transition! Learn ways to take
care of yourself and ease into your surroundings. Keep your chin up and keep a sense of
You may also like to retain your like with your host country by participating in events run by the
exchange office such as the exchange fair and pre-departure sessions
Welcome Home!