Studying abroad comes with a lot of steps and can be overwhelming at times. Use this checklist to make sure you aren’t missing any important steps and you have an understanding of what you must complete prior to departing. We will send you e-mail notifications for when to begin/complete these steps. Complete these items as soon as you receive notice from CAPA or your home institution.
|Apply for a passport|
|Notify CAPA if you have academic accommodations at your home university|
|Notify CAPA of concerns about managing your health|
|Complete Host University Application|
|Register with STEP (US citizens only)|
|Apply for Visa (We will send detailed instructions)|
|Book a flight (Sooner rather than later to avoid expensive fares)|
|Share flight details with CAPA when requested (3 weeks prior)|
|Complete CAPA registration for courses (3 months before program)|
In addition to the items above that must be completed as programmatic requirements, the following is a list of other to-dos that you should be taking care of prior to departure.
|Apply for scholarships|
|Create a budget|
|Notify your bank that you’ll be out of the country|
|Meet with your academic advisor to plan coursework for the program and for the semester you return to campus|
|Talk to your doctor about prescriptions and maintaining your well-being abroad|
|Review the Pre-Departure website in entirety|
|Attend an orientation (in-person through your university and CAPA webinar)|
|Join CAPA Facebook group|
|Consider if you’ll bring a smart phone or leave it|
|Download relevant apps|
|Obtain local currency|
|Purchase travel items|
|Begin learning useful phrases in language|
|Think about housing for return to US|
|Check in periodically with home campus study abroad office|
|OTHER (vote, register, taxes, what else to be taken care of from a distance?)|
Passports and Visas
All international travel requires a valid passport – without one you will not be allowed to fly to or enter another country. To study abroad, your passport must be valid for at least 6 months AFTER the end of the program. If you don’t already have a passport (or your passport will expire within 6 months after the program), you need to start the process to obtain a passport immediately. US citizens can check the US Postal Service website for more information about the passport application process.
- Upload a copy of your passport to your CAPA application.
- Leave a copy of your passport with a trusted friend or family member at home.
All students going to Shanghai will need a visa.
You will be advised of the specific visa that you need by your Program Advisor. Please await this information before commencing with your visa application.
- Chinese visas are issued in multiples of 30 days. Therefore, if you plan on staying in China beyond your program dates you should request a visa according to your plans.
- There is a cost associated with the visa.
- Whether you receive a multiple entry visa is at the discretion of the Chinese government, and they rarely grant such a visa. You should not make any travel plans until you know you have the correct status to do so.
- Keep in mind that travel to Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau is considered outside of your Chinese visa area, and therefore you would need a double-entry visa to get back into China.
- Travel to Tibet and Xinjiang regions is restricted and requires extra visas and permissions to travel there.
NON-US citizen: Please note that you many have a different visa process than US citizens. It is VERY important that you bring this to the attention of your CAPA Program Manager as soon as possible. While we cannot advise you on situation specific requirements to submit your application under these circumstances, we may be able to point you towards the appropriate resources.
Students with a Criminal Record: Please note that there could be complications to your visa process. It is VERY important that you bring this to the attention of your CAPA Program Manager as soon as possible.
If you have any questions or concerns, please call our Student Service hotline at 1-800 793-0334.
Please take a moment to visit the website below and register your information by clicking on “Create an Account.” https://step.state.gov/step/
- U.S. embassies and consulates assist nearly 200,000 Americans each year who are victims of crime, accident, or illness, or whose family and friends need to contact them in an emergency.
- Provide assistance and information when:
- There is a personal emergency
- Natural disaster
- Civil unrest strikes during your foreign travel
- By registering your trip, the embassy or consulate can locate you when necessary.
Registration is voluntary and costs nothing!
Booking Your Flight
You should book your flight to arrive into Shanghai on the first day of the program as indicated in your CAPAcket.
For example: If your program runs from March 1 until April 13, that means you are to arrive in Shanghai ON the 1st, and depart ON the 13th.
We do NOT recommend that you book a one way ticket into the country in which you are studying, as this could result in you being denied entry.
If you arrive into Shanghai before these dates or stay in Shanghai beyond them, your housing will not be available and you will be responsible for your own accommodations.
Check-in: 12:00 pm until 6:30 pm at your residence on your arrival date
Check-out: 10:00 am on your departure date
If you need to book a late arriving flight you should consider coming a day early and booking yourself into a hotel near the airport and then travel to your CAPA accommodation the next day.
If your flight arrives in Shanghai earlier than 12:00 pm, you will still have plenty of time to make it to your residence.
- For example: If you arrived at 10 am, between going through immigration, collecting your luggage, and traveling to your housing you are still not likely to get to central Shanghai until noon or 1 pm.
- For example: If you arrive at 7 am, we would recommend waiting at the airport and grabbing breakfast, so you will arrive at your residence after 12 pm. If you arrive at your residence before 12 pm, you will need to wait before you can access your apartment.
If your flight arrives after 6:30 pm, CAPA will be in touch you with you separately to advise you on what you should do.
Booking Flights to China
CAPA recommends that students book flights that fly from their final US (or European) airport directly into Shanghai without a stop in China before arrival into Shanghai.
Flights that stop through Hong Kong or Beijing are notorious for severe flight delays and cancellations and should be avoided as a result.
If you have no other options other than to arrive in Shanghai via Hong Kong or Beijing, select a flight that arrives in Shaghai Hongqiao Airport and not Pudong Airport. This usually helps reduce delays and results in a shorter journey to campus.
There are a number of options out there for finding discount airfare, and even more options if you are a student/under 26. It’s important to be aware that the least expensive plane ticket will generally also be the least flexible. Be prepared to pay high fees to change your return date, and even higher fees should you need to change your outgoing date.
STAtravel.com and StudentUniverse.com:
These companies offer airfare deals especially for students. Often they are able to contract specific rates with the airlines that are not published for other travelers. Additionally, some of these fares have more flexible approaches towards changing your return date, in case you decide to stay on after your studies.
**Traveler’s Tip: It never hurts to get an agent from both companies on the phone, as occasionally they can find even better deals.
Skyscanner.com, Google.com/flights/, Kayak.com, Orbitz.com, Travelocity.com, Priceline.com, and Hotwire.com:
These are all search engines that allow you to sift through offers from numerous airlines and consolidators to check for the best deal.
- Check the airline’s website after finding a good deal on these websites. Sometimes you will be able to get a better schedule at the same price, or find an even better discount. Airline websites can surprise you with a good deal from time to time and it never hurts to check.
- Remember that booking airfare over the phone will usually carry a surcharge, but if you feel more comfortable talking through the investment, it can be worth it.
- Look for travel predictor apps and websites – they can give you an idea as to where prices are going to go in the next few weeks – such as if prices are expected to rise, drop or stay the same. It’s not error-proof, but if you are deciding when to take the plunge and purchase your ticket, it can be helpful.
Most international flights will bring you into Shanghai Pudong International Airport. Shanghai also has a second airport, Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport. We will provide you with instructions for getting from the airport to your accommodations from whichever airport into which you choose to fly. Ultimately, either airport is perfectly fine to fly into. You can also look at our Getting Around section to find out more about how to get to and from the airport.
You’re probably beginning to wonder how you can fit everything you need into just a couple of suitcases and are trying to figure out what you need to take care of before you leave. Here are some tips on what to pack and what to do before leaving for your semester in a convenient PDF format.
Important Note: You will want to look into the baggage restrictions for the airline you are taking. Some airlines will allow you to check two large suitcases for international flights, but you definitely want to find out the size and weight restrictions so that you don’t end up having to pay extra for heavy baggage.
Top 3 Tips by CAPA Registrar, Sara Bularzik, who studied in China in 2010:
- Eat everything! Chinese food is nothing like what you’ve had in the US. It’s fresh, healthy, and varied across every region. Learn some characters and words for foods to help you really explore!
- Find your green space. Shanghai is a megacity with a lot of noise and distractions, but luckily it’s also full of parks and lakes for peaceful relaxation. Nearby CAPA are Changfeng Park and Zhongshan Park.
- Wander without a destination. The city may feel huge, and it is, but you will discover new things and get a sense of the everyday life by just wandering down an intriguing street. There are lots of signs showing where the nearest subway station is, so you are never really lost!