Preparing for Departure

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Attending a pre-departure information session prior to embarking on a study abroad program holds paramount importance for students. These sessions offer indispensable insights and preparations, encompassing practical aspects such as visa and passport requirements, health and safety guidelines, study arrangements, and travel schedules. Beyond these logistical details, students also acquire a deeper understanding of the nuances of local culture, and potential hurdles, all of which contribute to cultivating cultural sensitivity and mitigating the impact of culture shock.

Generic Pre-departure Information

When students apply for a learning abroad program on the Go Global Portal, they are required to complete several tutorials and watch informative videos on conditions of participation, passports, visas, emergencies and much more.  It is the responsibility of the project leader or associated staff to deliver program-specific pre-departure sessions that is tailored for an overseas activity.

Delivering Program-Specific Pre-departure Information Sessions

The Go Global website offers essential subject areas that can be addressed during program-specific pre-departure session. The site also hosts PowerPoint templates that can be personalised for presentations. Potential subjects encompass Program Logistics, Academic Preparation, Cultural Preparation, Health and Safety concerns, what to do in an emergency, and other resources.

Program Logistics

This topic covers program logistics for a specific program, including flights, visas, transportation, accommodations, meals, itinerary, program policies, requirements, and communication. It may emphasize the importance of program logistics and encourages students to seek clarification on anything that may not be covered.

Run sheet | PowerPoint Slide Deck

Academic Preparation

This topic may discuss the academic component of a program, including an overview of the subject, academic expectations, workload, communication with staff, academic culture, and contact information.

Run sheet | PowerPoint Slide Deck

Cultural Preparation

This topic covers cultural preparation for a program abroad. The introduction emphasises the importance of cultural awareness for program success. It may include an overview of the host country's culture, customs, and values, as well as tips and resources for learning about the culture. The presentation may also cover language preparation, communication styles, social etiquette, and safety and security concerns.

Run sheet | PowerPoint Slide Deck

TIP: Visit the Before I Go webpage and scroll down to the areas on culture. Another great resource is the Cultural Atlas provided by SBS.

Safety and Health Considerations

This topic covers the safety and health considerations for a program abroad. It starts by introducing the importance of preparation, and then discusses travel health, mental health, personal safety, transportation safety, environmental considerations, and travel insurance. The presentation ends with a summary of the key points covered, contact information, and time for questions.

Run sheet | PowerPoint Slide Deck



  • ☐ Invite the host university or overseas provider to present about the overseas program
  • ☐ Invite local experts to present about their expertise*
  • ☐ Have students complete an assignment prior to the pre-departure session. Ensure some of the content is action-orientated, focusing on activities and scenarios overseas.
  • ☐ Assess the student’s comprehension of the program and use evaluations to improve future content.
  • ☐ Involve returned student ambassadors in the pre-departure planning and presentation.

*Note: due to the number of programs facilitated by Western Sydney University  (200+), the Western Sydney International Go Global team is not resourced to attend individual pre-departure sessions.


As part of the Learning Abroad program application process, students need to fulfil various conditions of participation and view informative videos on topics such as passports, visas, and more. The videos are provided below for reference. The content is also available as a downloadable PDF, which can be used in a pre-departure briefing or shared with students before or after the session.

Roles and Responsibilities

Go Global Grants

Go Global grants are available for students participating in approved activities, including the Exchange Program, short programs, and work experience.

Students funded by the New Colombo Plan or other areas, are not eligible.

For semester exchange, students can receive up to $1,750, while for short programs or work experience, grants of up to $500 are available. To receive the grant, students must register their participation via the Go Global Portal and fulfil the post-decision requirements. Students apply for a Go Global Grant through Western Now.


A large majority of Global Learning experiences at Western Sydney University are funded by OS-HELP. This is a deferred HELP debt loan for Australian citizens enrolled in a Commonwealth Supported Place who want to undertake some of their study overseas. Loans over $8,000 are available. Academic approval is required; have completed 80 credit points of study, and have 10 credit points remaining on return. OS-HELP can be used for a range of expenses such as airfares, accommodation and other travel or study expenses. Students can access a total of two OS-HELP loans over their lifetime. The debt has the same repayment conditions as HECS-HELP and are indexed accordingly


A passport is an official travel document issued by a government that contains a person's identity and nationality of its holder. If you have a passport, you should have more than 6 months until expiration from the date of your return. Does yours? If not, you may require a new passport. To apply for a passport, make sure to apply early, since there is a high demand for passport services. Shot description: Australian Passport Office. If you are an Australian citizen, please see the Australian Passport Office. If you are not a citizen, you will be required to seek further advice from the relevant foreign consulate. Although a passport confirms a person’s identity, you may also require a visa to enter and temporarily remain within a country. There are several different types of visas, each of which afford the bearer different rights in the host country. Therefore, it is very important to understand what is required. Make sure to watch the explainer video about visas.


A travel visa is an official government document that authorises a non-citizen to enter and temporarily remain in a country. A visa is usually a stamp, sticker, or card that is placed in a passport and is checked when entering a country. Depending on the activity there are several types of visas that provide the bearer with different rights in the host country. The type of visa may also be affected by your place of birth or citizenship and therefore you may require a different visa from other participants in a program. To find out what visa you require, in the first instance talk to your host. This can be an overseas institution, provider, or program leader. Once you find out, it is highly recommended that you cross-check the information with the appropriate embassy or consulate, well in advance of travel. Only the embassy or consulate for the host location can provide up-to-date information about visa requirements for individual circumstances. Western staff are not permitted to provide this advice and ultimately you are responsible for confirming that you have the correct information and requirements for the country you are entering. To find out more about visas, visit the appropriate embassy or consulate webpage.

Insurance and Emergencies

Students and staff that travel overseas on approved University activities are covered by Western’s corporate travel insurance for the official component of a trip. This cover is limited and does not include personal travel before or after an experience. Or for those participating in extreme or high-risk activities. If you are taking part in personal travel or high-risk activities, you may need to organise additional personal travel insurance before you go. To find out more, it is highly recommended that all travellers visit Western’s Overseas Travel Insurance webpage.

So, what happens if there is an emergency when I’m overseas? In the first instance, ALWAYS call Western’s emergency assistance provider, International SOS. International SOS is a large professional organisation that provides the university with a premium service and can help with most situations. The organisation will assist with all emergency and medical advice, including assistance with insurance claims and the coordination of communication with the university and loved ones in the event of an incident. Before going overseas, it is highly recommended that all travellers download the International SOS App. This information should be provided to all participants before going overseas and can be found on the Go Global International SOS webpage.

Conditions of Participation

Western Sydney University is committed to demonstrating high standards of personal and professional conduct at all times. When participating in an overseas program, you must assume certain obligations to the University, host location, and other participants in a program. It is important that you behave in an appropriate manner and must not endanger yourself or the group. There are numerous University policies that need to be observed. If a staff member of the University, partner organisation, or overseas institution determines that a student fails to meet the behavioural expectations, they may be asked to leave the program and return home. If a student has been asked to leave under such circumstances and they have paid a program fee, they will not receive a refund and may be required to pay back any grants or scholarships. As a student ambassador expected to be on your best behaviour, ensuring the safety of all participants and reputation of Western Sydney University and Australia.


If you receive Centrelink payments, you may need to provide the government with official evidence from Western Sydney University that:

  1. You are participating in an overseas activity as part of your studies; and
  2. You are returning to Western Sydney University to continue with your degree

Further information about these requirement can be found on the Centrelink webpage Travelling outside Australia.

Mental Health

Almost half of Australian adults will experience a mental illness at some point during their life. Mood disorders, anxiety, substance abuse and other conditions do not discriminate, and can affect anyone. A person’s mental health affects how they feel, think, behave, and relate to others. Therefore, it is important that students are comfortable with their prospective Global Learning experience. Further, the Australian Government stresses that anyone travelling abroad is subject to foreign jurisdictions, which may view mental illness different from back at home. Consequently, it is important to thoroughly research the destination and determine if there are any concerns that may trigger mental health concerns. If you are facing any barriers that may affect the travel or experience in the host country, you are encouraged to access Western Sydney University's confidential counselling services as early as possible before going abroad. The University provides a free confidential counselling service with a team of qualified social workers and psychologists who are trained to work with diverse student populations on any issues of concern. This can be online or face-to-face. The team will provide advice and strategies to help manage your wellbeing and mental health while abroad and at home. To find out more visit the Western Sydney University counselling service webpage.

Cultural Awareness

Cultural awareness involves understanding, respecting, and being sensitive to diverse cultures through open-mindedness, respect for customs, effective communication, cultural adaptation, and self-reflection. It enables you to engage with the host culture, form connections, and gain a global perspective while developing intercultural competence. For more information about your host location, visit the SBS Cultural Atlas.

Exploring Culture

Download Exploring Culture and find out more about the diversity of people from different countries and backgrounds, especially differences in attitudes and values. This will help you to build relationships and make your interactions with different cultures more effective.

  1. What is the definition of culture?
  2. What are the characteristics of culture?
  3. What are the layers of culture?
  4. What are cultural stereotypes?
  5. What is Hofstede's Cultural Dimension model?

Culture Shock

Find out more about culture shock and how to adapt to a foreign culture. You can overcome culture shock and develop meaningful relationships with those around you, rather than feel anxious and confused in your new space. To find out more download Culture Shock.

Five students from five different continents tell us how they adapted to a brand new culture when they first studied abroad.

Intercultural Communications

Globalisation has contributed to the perception that because we use the same consumer products or speak the same language, our cultures must be similar. With all intercultural communication we must try to understand the different meanings behind similar behaviours. To find out more download Intercultural Communication. Feel free to also download optional information reading Tips and Strategies for the Asian Region 1 and Tips and Strategies for the Asian Region 2.

Cultural Atlas

The SBS Cultural Atlas is an educational resource providing comprehensive information on the cultural background of Australia’s migrant populations. The aim is to improve social cohesion and promote inclusion in an increasingly culturally diverse society. See  the SBS Cultural Atlas.


Western Sydney University and the Australian Government does not tolerate sexual exploitation, abuse or harassment of any kind. PSEAH is the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (DFAT) Preventing Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment policy. The policy sets out expectations and minimum standards of behaviour, for all stakeholders in Australia and overseas. University project leaders and partner organisations are required to complete rigorous due diligence and mitigate risks - see DFAT SEAH policy and the Western Sydney University Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy. Students at Western, are required to:

  1. Read and comply with the DFAT SEAH policy.
  2. Complete the WSU Respectful Relationships training.

Support Services

If you are aware of someone who has had an unwanted experience, or if you wish to speak privately about an incident, please visit the Office of Equity and Diversity webpage for the services that are available.


There are two methods for reporting an incident.

Child Protection

Australia is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. DFAT is committed to upholding the rights of the child and Australia’s obligations under this convention. In all actions concerning children, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration. Participants in a Global Learning project must recognise that it is the shared responsibility of all adults to prevent child exploitation. If a learning abroad program involves working with children, all staff and students are required to comply with the Western Sydney University Working with Children (Workers and Students) Policy and Australian Government Child Protection Policy.

Defining Child Abuse and Exploitation

The term “child abuse” includes physical, emotional and sexual abuse, and neglect. The phrase “exploitation” can cover a multitude of situations or practices. If you are unsure about what constitutes child exploitation and abuse, contact the Child Protection Compliance Section for confidential advice via telephone +61 2 6178 5100 or email

Reporting Child Exploitation

Western Sydney University:  The University has an obligation under the Act to notify the Office of the Children's Guardian of any finding by the University that a Worker has engaged in sexual misconduct committed against, with or in the presence of a Child, including grooming of a Child; or any serious physical assault of a Child. For further information about reporting an incident see the Working with Children web page.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade: To report an instance, suspicion or allegation of child exploitation and/or abuse, you may do so by using the form available on the DFAT website. Child exploitation and abuse is not tolerated by DFAT and attracts criminal penalties under Australian legislation.