Study and work abroad guide
This online guide aims to help you to prepare for transitioning to life abroad by giving practical advice for your preparation and arrival.
The checklist below provides a list of priority tasks to complete before you leave for your host country.
Once your activity is approved
- Check visa requirements – depending on whether you are working, studying or volunteering abroad, your nationality, where you are going and how long for, you may require a visa. This is one of the more complex parts of going abroad so we have created some additional visa guidance (InfoHub log in required).
- Check what financial support is available - students who are studying, working or volunteering abroad may be entitled to some additional financial support to help cover costs via the UWE Bristol Employability Bursary and/or the Turing Scheme grant. The UWE Bristol team relevant to the activity you are doing will be in touch to notify you of any entitlement and the next steps you need to take.
- Immunisations – check the NHS Fit for travel site to find out what immunisations, if any, you need. Visit your GP to arrange prescriptions and necessary immunisations. If you need several immunisations or a course of immunisation, these may take weeks or months and should not be left until the last minute.
- Student finance – inform student finance of your circumstances. You may be able to access additional financial support from student finance for working or studying abroad.
- Research your destination – research your host country, region and city. There is more guidance on what to look for in the Worldwide travel advice, Staying safe abroad and the Additional resources sections.
- Travel advice – it is essential to understand the travel documents and procedures relevant to the host country. There is further information in the Travel advice section. If you are a UK passport holder, you can check the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice for official, up-to-date travel advice. This is still a useful starting point for non-UK nationals, however other countries will have equivalent foreign travel advice.
- Work placement students – if you haven’t already, confirm your placement with UWE Bristol.
- Banking – explore the best options to access your money overseas and tell your bank you are preparing to live abroad. The FCDO offer advice on your finances when travelling abroad.
- Healthcare – research how you will access healthcare and dental services in your host country.
- Travel and health insurance – the FCDO offer guidance on foreign travel insurance, with a section on working or studying abroad.
- Accommodation – speak with your host institution, company or organisation to see what accommodation options are available.
- Arrange travel – book tickets, research routes to your accommodation, consider buddying up with other students or book an arrival service with your host organisation.
- Check your passport – ensure your passport is up-to-date and will cover the full time that you are away. Some countries require a minimum amount of time left on your passport before you travel. If you do need to renew your passport, leave enough time to get it sorted.
- Complete the UWE Bristol approval process – this should include an Overseas Travel Form on InfoHub. This is a mandatory requirement for all UWE Bristol students working, studying or volunteering abroad. You will be directed by the relevant UWE Bristol team to complete the approval process.
When you are nearly ready to go
- Contact details on MYUWE – ensure your contact details in MYUWE are up to date.
- Update your UWE Bristol Overseas Travel Form on InfoHub – it is a mandatory requirement to ensure your travel and in country information is up to date prior to travel.
- Print all copies of necessary paperwork – this should include your passport, visa and any other important travel documentation. It is a good idea to leave copies at home and online for safekeeping.
- Sort logistics for when you first arrive in country – this includes how you are getting from the airport to your accommodation, for example, via taxi using cash. It is a good idea to have a backup plan and think about how you will make payments and communicate on arrival.
- Pack and be mindful of restrictions – keep in mind airline weight restrictions and items restricted by the airline and/or country. If you are travelling with medication, ensure you have checked the rules for any countries you are transiting through or arriving in. The NHS offer guidance on taking medicine abroad.
- Travel and health insurance – check the insurance you have in place is sufficient for the duration of your stay and purchase any additional insurance.
- Work placement students – finalise any outstanding details of your placement with your activity provider.
- Download useful apps – so these are ready once you arrive. Some app suggestions can be found in the Additional resources section.
Getting sorted and settled
- Get in touch with previous students – this is a great way to get helpful tips on accommodation, sorting out travel and settling in when you arrive in country.
- Staying connected with friends and family – look into the costs of using your mobile phone abroad, telephone services, and internet access.
- Brush up your language skills – try the language apps and information in the Language skills section to help you with key phrases to use when you arrive in your host country.
UWE Bristol travel approval
If you are working, studying or volunteering abroad as part of an assessed module (for example, a sandwich placement) and/or participating in an initiative run by UWE Bristol (for example, Study Abroad or Think Pacific), you will need to complete all the application and approval processes that are required by UWE Bristol.
Without this approval, you will not be able to undertake the activity with the support of UWE Bristol. The relevant UWE Bristol team will make you aware of any actions required and when these need to be completed. Once completed, you will be granted approval in principle, which means we will support you throughout your activity providing you adhere to any conditions stipulated, such as completing and keeping your UWE Bristol Overseas Travel Form up to date.
All overseas activity will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, with consideration of the transport, medical and communications infrastructure in place, as well as the financial impact of support that might be required through the duration of your overseas activity. UWE Bristol staff responsible for approving overseas activities in principle will be considering current Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) Foreign travel advice and Drum Cussac risk rating, alongside our own internal risk assessment.
On the Drum Cussac website, there is helpful country-specific travel advice within the Fact Box and Travel Risk Advice sections. From practical information like currency used and if the tap water is drinkable, to what to do at your hotel and when in the street.
You can find more information on how to complete the UWE Bristol Overseas Travel Form and access Drum Cussac advice on InfoHub (log in required). Please be aware that student travel will not normally be approved in principle if any of the following apply:
- FCDO advise against all travel to that country (or to any regions you would have to visit or transit though).
- FCDO advise against all but essential travel to that country (or to any regions you would have to visit or transit though).
- Drum Cussac rate the overall country risk as High or Extreme.
- Students are unable to meet the entry requirements for that country (for example, entry permitted to UK nationals).
Overseas placement students
Please be aware that in some cases, due to the risk profile of the activity you are looking to undertake, your proposed activity may have to be escalated to your college or school for expert input and approval. As a result, this may affect the time it takes to have your activity approved in principle. Therefore, we recommend that you submit your activity forms at least six to eight weeks before your intended departure. Failure to do so might result in your departure being significantly delayed. Ideally, all overseas placements should be submitted three to four months in advance.
Worldwide travel advice
Whether travelling within or outside of the EU, it’s important to understand the UK government travel safety advice for your host country. You should also know how to access help and support through your personal travel insurance and UWE Bristol’s travel cover if things go wrong.
We continue to urge caution in planning any overseas activity. Please be aware that countries may close borders, restrict movement or bring in new quarantine rules with little warning. You may also be required to return home and/or quarantine at your own expense. It is therefore essential that you stay up to date with the latest UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice.
The FCDO has a range of specific advice that may apply to you. They offer living in country guides for most countries, which contain advice for UK nationals living abroad, including information on residency, health and benefits. This country-specific insight may also be of use to non-UK nationals.
In addition to the FCDO, Prospects.ac.uk have a range of country specific guides for study abroad and work abroad students. This includes general study or work abroad advice, as well as specific country advice on course fees, where to find opportunities, visas, language requirements and lots more.
Travel insurance and UWE Bristol travel cover
For students undertaking UWE Bristol-approved work and/or study abroad, we would ask you to take out your own travel insurance that is appropriate for your specific needs, including the type of activity you are due to undertake. This insurance needs to cover the full duration of your planned travels, including any additional time spent abroad before or after your approved activity.
Students who undertake a study exchange or work placement that is a compulsory and credit-bearing aspect of their UWE Bristol degree can access a level of cover through the UWE Bristol travel cover provided by UMAL. Those undertaking electives may also be able to access this cover. However, for all students, this is subject to formal approval of your activity, including the completion of a suitable risk assessment, and continued adherence to the control measures agreed.
UWE Bristol travel cover provides students travelling abroad with medical, personal property, personal injury and accident cover. However, this is not travel insurance, as UMAL is not an insurance provider, and cover is discretionary. Please note that there are a number of cover exclusions, therefore, we advise you to carefully review the cover summary to ensure it provides you with the appropriate level of cover for your personal circumstances.
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) Foreign travel insurance guidance is helpful when considering appropriate levels of cover based on your activity and personal circumstances.
- Limited cover will be provided for any disruption arising out of COVID-19, but only if the traveller contracts COVID-19 themselves and is prevented from travelling on the initial outward or final return journey because of this.
- UMAL travel insurance cover only applies to those people under 80 years of age. If you are aged 80 years or over, and you are travelling on UWE Bristol activities, please contact the Insurance Manager at Neil.Humphreys@uwe.ac.uk.
- You are allowed to arrange more than one insurance policy, but if you are making a claim, you must not claim for the same expense from more than one insurer.
- If you have a pre-existing medical condition and the doctor advises you not to travel, the UWE Bristol travel insurance policy is invalid.
- Some partners or work placements may require you to buy additional insurance.
- Please ensure that you also take a hard copy of all travel cover or insurance documents with you, as well as leaving a copy with your family or friends at home.
For work placements, an additional agreement will be made with the employer on indemnity insurance as part of the placement approval process, known as the Health, Safety and Conduct agreement. This is completed through the Employability Activity Confirmation Process (InfoHub login required).
Staying safe abroad
Going overseas can be an amazing experience, but it can also be daunting and may come with risks. Make sure that you research the country in depth before you apply to, and accept, any overseas opportunity.
Before you go, find out about the country’s culture, potential language barriers, visas, security issues and even practical things like which vaccinations you need, which electrical sockets are used and how to call the emergency services.
You can find the answers to all of these subjects and lots more through Drum Cussac's online travel advice platform (log in required using UWE Bristol email address).
We want you to have a safe and enjoyable experience abroad, which makes the most of the social and cultural opportunities available to you.
Upon arrival, take some time to get to know your local neighbourhood. We recommend that you check with local university or company staff for expert knowledge about your community.
- Make sure you know where the closest hospital, police station and food markets are located. It is also good to note their opening hours as most countries have different schedules.
- Register with your host organisation and attend all possible induction or orientation sessions arranged by your host.
- Check and complete any actions relating to your visa requirements. For example, registering your visa with local authorities in order to validate your stay and access any services. Please check your visa paperwork or issuing embassy for details.
- If studying abroad, familiarise yourself with the student exchange or international office and find out how to access student support.
- Check your UWE Bristol email regularly.
- Keep in touch with friends and family.
- Register with a local doctor. Unsure how? Speak to your host work or university contact.
- Keep a journal or blog to record your memories.
- Act responsibly. Remember you are an ambassador for UWE Bristol.
- Provide us with feedback about your experience.
- Remember to use #UWEGoGlobal in your social media posts.
If you are struggling
The first few weeks in a new country can be a wonderful and exciting time. However, it can also be a stressful experience. Even for the most prepared student, it is normal to feel disorientation, homesickness, helplessness and frustration as you settle into a new community and host culture.
There are a number of things you can do to help yourself cope with these feelings:
- Get to know fellow international students and share your experiences.
- If studying abroad, speak with student services staff at your host institution.
- Get involved with your local community (for example, student societies or activities at your host institution or workplace, volunteering or your faith community in the area).
- Keep in touch with family, friends, and university staff back home.
- Seek support from relevant contacts.
- Read more about dealing with culture shock.
It is helpful to learn some basic greetings and phrases before going to a new country. If you're keen to enhance your language skills abroad, contact your host institution or employer to ask about inductive language classes or local language schools.
Language and communication apps
The UK government have a range of guidance on returning to the UK, which we advise students to review before leaving their host country. This advice could change at any point so please ensure you check immediately before you travel.
There is specific advice for those returning to the UK from specific destinations and any additional requirements you may have to adhere to. For example, you may need to provide proof of negative COVID-19 test, and there may be restrictions on items such as food, medication or plants that you plan to bring into the UK for personal use.
Before you return to the UK
- Ensure you have all of your required travel documentation ready.
- Check if there are any entry restrictions you need to plan for, and ensure you continue to check this right up until you leave.
- Make travel arrangements for pick-up upon your return.
Upon your return to UWE Bristol
- Let the relevant UWE Bristol team know you are home safely. For Placements, Study Abroad and Go Global, you can do this through the Overseas Travel form. We will continue to contact you until we have confirmation.
- Submit all college, placement and/or student exchange documentation where appropriate.
- Provide us with feedback about your experience to help us better prepare others.
- Participate in promotion and preparation activities for future study abroad students – just as previous students did for you!
- Get in touch with UWE Bristol Careers to discuss how you can include your experience within your CV.
Important contact details
Please make a note of the International Medical Group number and save it on your phone:
International Medical Group tel: +44 (0) 203 859 1492
When to call International Medical Group:
- In the event of an emergency whilst overseas
- Pre-trip advice
- Overseas support with lost or stolen luggage
- For any other travel advice or assistance
International Medical Group
Country, city and region specific travel advice via UWE Bristol’s insurers and advice to keep you safe in an emergency
Student Money Service
Student Finance and personal finance
Support for students on placement
Study Abroad Team
All student exchange programmes
The Students’ Union at UWE Advice Centre
Independent advice, guidance and information to all UWE Bristol students
Homesickness and stress management
- Global Graduates – information to help you prepare for an international experience, including 100 reasons to study abroad, a packing list, and blog posts and articles from students who have studied or worked abroad.
- Travel Advice online platform – a service through UWE Bristol’s insurers, providing comprehensive advice on safety and the practicalities of living abroad (currency, business hours, etiquette, public transport).
- Lonely Planet – a traveller's perspective of different countries, including practical information and public transportation.
- Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office – government travel and consulate advice and information.
- AngloInfo – information and support aimed at English-speaking expats.
- International Student Identity Card (ISIC) – provides a variety of student discounts in the UK and worldwide.
- Travel Blog – blogs written by people living, working and travelling abroad.
- Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender foreign travel advice – from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).
Journey planning and mapping
- Citymapper – detailed journey planner information, including real–time departures for public transport in 30 cities worldwide.
- Maps.me – download regional or country maps and use them offline to navigate or plan journeys.
- Rome2Rio – plan cross–country, multi–mode travel with flight, train, bus, ferry, and driving options with estimated travel times and fares.
- Google Travel and Tripit – pull together travel information for flights, buses, and hotel bookings into one itinerary.
- Seat 61 – information on train travel between most worldwide destinations.
- Skyscanner and Kayak – search across travel sites to help you find the best prices for flights.
- Hopper – tells you the best time of the year to book a flight to ensure you get the cheapest deal and sends alerts when your favourite routes go on sale.
- App in the Air – tracks flights and provides info on delays, check-ins, boarding schedules, and baggage arrivals.
Culture and events
- Time Out – a directory of ideas for things to do in cities around the world, including bars, restaurants, attractions and events.