Information Technology Services

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Study Abroad

Student Staff Faculty

Studying abroad can be an exciting experience. Our study abroad department offers programs in over 30 countries, each with its own electronic differences.

Countries outside of the United States use different types of sockets, so it is essential to use adaptors and/or converters for your US electronics.

How can I tell if I need a voltage converter?

Some electronics, such as laptops, do not need voltage converters, only adaptors.To check to see if your electronic device needs a converter, check the cord or a tag on it to see if it is adaptable to 100-240V. If it does not, it requires a voltage converter. For example, a hair dryer will require a transformer, while many laptops will not.

Study abroad students overwhelmingly find that they only have needed one adaptor/converter during their travels.

How can I type in a different language on my computer?
If you are using an Apple computer, you can add accents to letters by pressing Option + E and then the letter that you wish to type. For other accents and special characters, please reference the following link:
http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?path=Mac/10.5/en/8504.html


If you are using Windows, you can access different symbols by clicking the insert menu, --->symbol in Microsoft Word. When you have selected the accented letter, you will also see a keyboard shortcut for that specific letter. For example, ctrl ‘, a yeilds á.



What should I avoid bringing abroad?
Students suggest that hair straighteners, curlers, and blow dryers should be left at home. In many countries, it it easy to find inexpensive ones in your host country that do not need a converter.

I am attending Semester at Sea. Are there different suggestions for my study abroad experience?
Semester at Sea poses a completely different set of concerns for study abroad students.

  • Students do not need a converter or adapter when charging in their rooms on the ship, but they need one in public spaces outside their rooms on the ship and at port. Students find that if their laptop’s battery life lasts for several hours, they can manage without a converter. Otherwise, a voltage converter is a good idea.
  • Semester at Sea(SAS) is the only study abroad experience where students are not advised to bring a cell phone. Your advisor will make you aware of the specifics of the program.
  • Please be aware of the internet situation on the ship. Students have limited access to non-academic websites on the ship. Students are given unlimited access to their SAS email account, which is why advisors suggest that students forward other email accounts to their SAS email. Directions on how to do this are found in our knowledge base. http://www.sandiego.edu/its/kb/18781
  • Students will have access to inexpensive internet at port, at internet café’s. Please ask your advisor about the cost of buying internet on the ship.
  • Advisors also strongly suggest bringing a USB stick, which is needed to turn in assignments on the ship. Students also use them for sharing and uploading pictures to the internet at port.


I am traveling to China. How can I accommodate for the different internet permissions?

  • Advisors suggest getting a VPN account. Faculty are able to obtain one through the University, while students must purchase one. It is recommended that both students and faculty look into this option. It allows you to use an American IP address, which means that you are able to access websites that are not allowed in China. Gmail accounts and Toreromail accounts have problems in China because of Google’s limited permission in the country. For more information on VPN accounts, please contact the ITS Help Desk.


What are some ways I can contact my friends and family at home?

  • Skype is the most popular method for study abroad students to contact their families. Skype can be downloaded on both computers and accounts are free. When both users are online, calls and video chats are free. If one user is online, phone calls can be made inexpensively to cell phones and home phones without the use of a SIM card or physical phone.
  • Facebook provides video chat, but it is less popular. Both users will be able to video chat with a simple plugin installation.
  • Google Voice is also a great way to call and text phone numbers back home for almost nothing. Google Voice will provide you with a phone number that you can either use independently, or connect to your pre-existing US telephone number. For example, if you have unlimited text messages in the United States, you will be able to text anyone through the internet for free. If you choose to call someone, you can use minutes from your cell phone plan at home to avoid extra costs. More information about setting up a google voice account can be found at: https://www.google.com/voice?pli=1#inbox
  • While some students prefer to bring their US phones abroad, please contact your carrier to see if your smartphone will be able to use a foreign SIM card. Phones such as the iPhone will need to be jailbroken, which will lose the warranty, in order to do this. Most students prefer to buy a simple phone abroad, which can be purchased for about 15 dollars, or the foreign currency equivalent.



Tips for studying abroad:

  • Make sure that you make yourself aware of class registration dates, and whether or not you have advisor holds on your account. While you never want to wait until the last minute to realize that there is a hold on your account, it is more stressful when you are abroad.
  • If you are dissatisfied with your camera, consider buying a new one. The ITS Help Desk can assist with recommending the best camera for your needs. Many good quality cameras are fairly inexpensive. Some students found that buying a second rechargeable battery for their camera was also a good decision. At the same time, do not buy a camera that you will not be able to afford to replace in case it gets lost or stolen.
  • It is also a good idea to bring the computer’s operating systems install disk(s) with you abroad in case your university abroad does not offer tech support or support for your computer.

  • Students and study abroad advisors suggest that if you are going somewhere that only has a wired connection to buy a wireless access port if you have devices that only use wifi. Examples of these devices are the iPad, iPod touch, iPhone (without data plan), or the Macbook air. If you plan on using internet on these devices, it is a good idea to look into buying a wireless access port.
  • Many students suggest bringing an ethernet cable. They are inexpensive, and although many rooms provide a cable, certain hotel and hostel rooms do not provide them.