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COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Contents:    
    1.    General
    2.    Transferring Credits to a Prospective University
    3.    Airfare/Travel (packing, money, etc.)
    4.    Passports, Visas, etc.
    5.    The Academic Program Site
    6.    Living Abroad: Accommodations (your host family, dorms, etc.)
    7.    Social Life/Extra Curricular (excursions, food)

WB01345_1.gif (616 bytes)General

When am I ready to study abroad?
Full enjoyment and appreciation of the study aboard experience requires a certain level of emotional maturity and language skill.  
Students must meet their program prerequisites or submit a waiver for approval by PATA. 
 
How many PATA participants go on each trip?
All programs have a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 30 participants. They are not necessarily from the same school or state. 
If a group from the same school or district fills a program, PATA may increase the maximum enrollment
at the request of the participating teachers.

WB01345_1.gif (616 bytes)Transferring Credits to a Prospective University

Will the credits I earn transfer to my university?
YES!  When you attend a PATA program at an accredited university, you receive a university transcript which your American
university will receive and assess as it would a transcript from any American university. The decision to grant credit is based
on their university guidelines and your degree plan. The acceptance of transfer credits is at the discretion of the receiving university.  
PATA cannot guarantee that all credit hours will be accepted at all universities.
 
How many credits will I earn?
At universities using the semester system, you will receive one hour of credit for every fifteen hours of class contact.  
Ultimately, the acceptance of transfer credits is at the discretion of your university.
 
Will my grades transfer?
NO. Your grade will appear on your foreign transcript, but only the credits will transfer. However, your grade may influence
the amount of credit granted.
 
Is there any way I can get credit with grades?
YES.  But not through your transcript. After you have studied abroad, your increased skills will improve your scored
on college credit placement tests like the AP exam. Making a high score on these tests can result in a letter grade
as well as credit. Check with your prospective university about their policy.
 
How will study abroad help my college career?
First, competitive colleges are impressed with students who have a foreign language background and experience abroad. 
Your summer study may help you get into the university of your choice. Second, study abroad is a financial investment. It can raise your AP, IB and college placement exam scores which earn credit hours which can represent significant savings.
 
WB01345_1.gif (616 bytes)Airfare & Travel
 
May I make my own flight arrangements?
As a PATA participant, you will be part of a group.  We strongly recommend that your accompany your group to and
from the program site. However, if you wish to fly on your own, please check the appropriate box on your PATA
application. Parents will be required to sign a flight responsibility release form. If you purchase your own airfare, you will
receive a discount off the PATA program price.
 
How much luggage should I take?
Excess baggage is a traveler's nightmare! In fact, there is a limit on the number of bags you can bring. 
You may check ONE bag aboard the plane with one carry-on. Your checked bag should not weight more than 60 pounds. 
Pack light! You will be handling your OWN bag! Remember to leave space for your overseas purchases!
 
What will be my departure city?
Airfare costs are based on departure from Houston, Texas. However, as departure time approaches and the group fills,
alternate departure gates MAY be announced.  For example, if a program fills with students from the Dallas area,
the departure city MAY be changed to Dallas. Your round-trip transportation to and from the city of departure is NOT
included in the PATA program price.
 
Should I bring book in English to read?
Reading, speaking, listening, or even thinking in English is detrimental to your growing language skills.  In addition to bringing books from home, we suggest that you visit a bookstore in your home stay city and purchase books or magazines in the language that you wish to learn. Reading authentic materials in your language of study will greatly enhance your progress.
 
What should I bring with me?
You will find a list of what to bring and how to pack in the orientation information you receive about 4-6 weeks before
your departure date.  If you want to start shopping now, purchase a few mix and match items that you can layer for warmth. 
Look for wrinkle-free fabrics, but avoid any "dry clean only".  If you buy luggage with wheels, make certain that the wheels are
heavy duty!  Those cobblestoned streets are a challenge to most suitcases with wheels.
 
How much personal spending money will I need?
Each traveler's personal expenses vary. If you plan to purchase many souvenirs or enjoy shopping for clothing,
plan accordingly. Because it is expensive to wire money overseas, it is always best to bring more than you think you need.
WB01345_1.gif (616 bytes)Passports & Visas
 
Do I have to have a passport?
YES.  If you are traveling to Europe it is essential that you have a valid passport in your name (not a family passport).
Travel in Mexico and Canada does not require a passport, but it will simplify your travel and money exchange. 
PATA strongly encourages you to apply for a passport as soon as you sign-up.
 
Do I need a travel visa?
NO.  No visa is necessary if your stay is limited to three months or less.
 
How do I get a passport?
You can download passport applications from the web.
 
Applications are also available in most post offices, not all of them provide processing services,
so call ahead for verification. To process the application, your will need to personally submit a certified copy of your
birth certificate, two passport photographs, and the required fee (check for current prices) to the passport office at your
central post office.  Allow 4-6 weeks for delivery. You may also personally process the paperwork at the nearest
US Passport Agency (in Texas--Houston).
 
WB01345_1.gif (616 bytes)The Academic Program Site
 
Why does PATA use language institutes on some programs?
The goal of PATA programs is to provide the best environment for students to quickly increase their fluency
in another language. The language institutes with which PATA works offer small class instruction in a culturally
rich environment.  All participating institutes are recognized for their outstanding language programs and design their
curriculum to meet university standards.
 
What about my course work at a language institute?
If you attend a language institute, you will receive a detailed transcript describing your program. When you enroll in
an American university, take your transcript and a portfolio of your course work to your admissions office and petition
credit.Your university will grant credit based on their review of your documents. Again, the acceptance of transfer
credits is always at the discretion of the receiving university. PATA cannot guarantee that all credit hours will be
accepted at all universities.
 
Do the professors speak English?
NO. That is exactly why you are studying abroad. All classes are conducted in the language of your host country.
 
Are the classes difficult?
You may experience culture shock on the first day of class and think, "This is impossible!"  Don't panic! 
The university and institute staff are accustomed to working with foreign students. After two or three days,
you will feel much more comfortable.  If you attend class, are attentive and participate, you will discover that the
classes may be challenging, but not too difficult for your level.  If you run into problems, tutoring is available on a daily basis.

WB01345_1.gif (616 bytes)Living Abroad

How are the families chosen?
PATA families have been selected from a pool of families used by university students, some for generations. 
The first screening comes from the university or institute itself. Names of families with an interest in receiving
foreign guests is given to PATA for a second screening process.You will fill out a personality questionnaire before
your departure that will help us find an appropriate, compatible family for your home stay. Because families are financially
compensated, you can rest assured that your meals, daily shower, and laundry are not a burden,
but an expected part of your stay.
 
Should I live alone, or with a roommate?
All program participants live with a roommate. However, if a program has an odd number of male or female
particpants, a student may be placed alone with a family. Students who prefer to live alone with a family
may request to do so at and additional charge, if available.
 
What if I don't like my family?
Although it is unlikely, if a concern about your family arises, let your director know immediately!  Your full-time
on-site director will look into any concerns and make the appropriate changes.
 
Do the families speak English?
We hope not!  But don't worry. The families have requested foreign students and know how to communicate
with new language learners. In fact, many families see themselves as teachers, and will enjoy helping you learn.
 
WB01345_1.gif (616 bytes)Your Free Time
 
Will I have the opportunity to meet local residents my age?
Establishing a friendship depends on you. How is this done?  First and foremost, explore your host town
in small groups. Large groups appear to be "tourists" rather than students, and REPEL rather than attract
the interest of local residents. Second, always use your language of study. People will be more willing to talk to you
if they know that you want to communicate in their language. Your host family also provides a source of interaction
with local residents. In addition to communication with them on a daily basis, they serve as a conduit to meeting
new friends of all ages.
 
How can I trust the new people I meet?
Because your safety is our principal concern, we ask that all participants remain in groups of four when they go out,
especially at night. The four do not have to be four PATA students, after you make local friends, they can be a part
of your group. Going out in a group is the best security there is!
 
What is the food like?
Each country offers different culinary treats.You'll have the opportunity to try new dishes, some of which you will
like more than others The important thing is that you try everything once. You may be surprised at your reaction! 
If you are a vegetarian or have other dietary needs, please let us know on your housing questionnaire. 
Your host family will provide meals to accommodate your diet.
 
Is the drinking water safe?
With the exception of Mexico, Costa Rica and Russia, the tap water available in all PATA program site countries is safe to drink. 
However, bottled water is readily available. Families provide unlimited filtered water in their homes for
drinking and for brushing your teeth. Outside of the home, we recommend that you always drink bottled water.
 
What are the excursions like?
You will enjoy day trips and overnight excursions. On most programs, the excursions take place on the weekends. 
Check your itinerary for specific excursion information.
 
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