International Engineering Program

Preparing for Your Year Abroad: Chinese IEP

Preparing for the year abroad in a stress-free way takes months of planning before you depart. Most students leave for the year abroad in September and return twelve months later. The preparation process includes individual and group meetings and orientations to discuss a range of topics such as the application process, academics, internships, accommodation, course selection, registration with the university, culture and cultural differences, visa advising and health, safety and security abroad to offer the maximum support to our students. We will also connect you to 5th year students who just returned from their year abroad, to exchange students from our partner universities whenever possible and to other helpful resources. 

Follow the timeline below and also check out the Chinese IEP Study Abroad Guides to help prepare you for the year abroad. 

Chinese IEP Abroad Timeline

September – December

  1. First informational session: TBA. Please schedule a meeting with Dr. Berka to review all requirements for the year abroad and to assure you meet all requirements for the dual degree. Speak with Dr. Berka about ways to improve your proficiency such as additional tutoring or language exchange partners.
  2. Budget: View the Program Budget Sheet in URI Abroad for estimated program expenses. 
  3. Passport application or renewal: If you have a passport, make sure it will be valid 6 months past the date of your anticipated return. If you do not have a passport, or if you need to renew your passport, go to your nearest Post Office (which for URI is in Wakefield); you MUST schedule an appointment.
  4. Obtaining a visa: While URI offers students guidance on how to apply for a visa, it is ultimately the student’s responsibility to apply for and obtain the appropriate visa needed to support their studies. In general, students will apply for their visas in May by sending their documents as a group through a third-party contact the university has used before after receiving the acceptance letter back from Zhejiang University and after filling out the online visa application. Visit the Chinese Consulate website for more information.  Important: Non-US citizens need to check whether they are on the list of countries whose citizens need to apply for a visa on the consulate’s website. Please make an appointment with Jamie Loredo, Education Abroad Advisor,, if you need any additional guidance on obtaining a visa.
  5. Financial Aid: If you have questions about financial aid during the year abroad, you should contact a financial advisor in Green Hall.
  6. Meet with your advisors to discuss your academic plan for your fifth year: Make sure to work on a graduation worksheet with your advisors, so that you know which classes you have to take for graduation. Since you will have to register for Fall courses from abroad, let us know immediately if there is a conflict between a Chinese course and courses required for engineering in your 5th year. Review your IEP program curriculum sheet.
  7. Applying for Research during the Semester Abroad: If you would like to earn 3 credits of MCE, CHE, ELE etc. 491 professional elective credits, but have not yet discussed the possibility of research during the semester abroad with Dr. Berka, do so and look through research opportunities that might interest you at Zhejiang. When you have decided on one, email the professor in charge of the research and cc Dr. Berka in the email. Although there are certain connections that URI already has with ZJU, it is also possible for you to find your own internship depending on your interests.
  8. Scholarships: Start working on scholarship applications. In particular: Start working on scholarship applications for scholarship opportunities with December or January deadlines, such as the Beatrice Demers Scholarship, and the Gilman scholarship, Freeman-Asia Scholarship (due early April), the Boren Scholarships and Fellowships and the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program (due end of November).
    For additional grants and deadlines, check out IEP Scholarship & Fellowships. Note: The URI scholarship portal opens in April and the deadline for URI scholarships is in June.


  1. URI Office of International Education – Step 1: Attend an optional General Information Session on how to apply to study abroad in the URI Abroad Application System: TBA
    • All students who plan to study abroad are required to obtain permission from URI and therefore must complete the URI Abroad Application. In general, IEP students should apply using the Fall Semester application for their program – not the Academic Year.
  1. Contact Jamie Loredo, Education Abroad Advisor, if you have any questions about the URI Abroad Application or about the study abroad process.
  2. Medical Clearance for Visa Application: In order to apply for a Chinese visa, you will need to get medical clearance including a full physical, lab work, EEC, and chest X-ray. Note: It may take time to fit in all these medical appointments so make them as soon as you can. Make an appointment with your primary care physician (between now and March) so that you can get your physical examination form completed and signed by the time you apply to ZJU.
  3. General IEP Cultural Preparation Meeting: TBA


  1. URI Office of International Education – Step 1: Complete Phase 1: Pre-Decision of your URI Application for IEP Study Abroad. Deadline: March 1st
  2. Chinese IEP Preparation Meeting: TBA


  1. Chinese IEP Cultural Preparation Meeting: TBA
  2. URI Office of International Education – Step 2: Complete Phase 2: Post-Decision of your URI Application for IEP Study Abroad. This includes your Pre-Approval Form. Deadline: May 1st
  3. Internship Documents and Placement: Set up an appointment with Prof. Berka to discuss company or research lab choices no later than the first or second week of April. With Dr. Berka’s help, you will gain access to our internship portal where you can learn more about the different Chinese companies that have internships and view projects from past Chinese IEP program participants to help you determine the company you would like to intern for. Begin preparing a Chinese resume. Don’t be afraid to ask professors and/or tutors for help.
  4. Prior Approval Forms: Discuss course equivalencies between URI and ZJU with Dr. Berka and complete the Prior Approval Form for all of the courses you would like to take while abroad. Students need to have chosen the classes they plan on taking abroad by the end of March/early April. URI exchange students can only take language and culture classes unless they get special permission to also pick from the tentative course list for undergraduates offered outside the International College. Consult with Dr. Berka regarding your selections. She can help you get your language courses approved (if in Flagship, ask Dr. He), but please note that for all other courses from departments in the College of Arts and Sciences, the chair of that related department and/or the Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences will need to sign, and that for engineering courses, your engineering advisor and the Associate Dean of the College of Engineering will need to sign. Remember to add in a couple (2-3) more classes than desired, in case of class unavailability or changes while taking courses in China. Students will then need to upload the finalized Prior Approval Form to URI Abroad in the post-decision phase of URI Abroad application.
  5. Optional Intensive Summer Language Program: Consider enrolling in an intensive Summer Chinese language program. Consult Dr. Berka for more information. If you enroll in a Summer Program that is NOT a part of the IEP program, you must meet with OIE Education Abroad Advisor, Jamie Loredo, to discuss the transfer of credits and to register the program through URI Abroad as a non-affiliated summer program. 


  1. URI Office of International Education – Pre-Departure Meeting: TBA
  2. Health Insurance: In addition to URI Health Insurance or other private insurance, all URI Students are covered by CISI Insurance. Students confirmed to study abroad will automatically be registered and emailed proof of insurance.
  3. Chinese Partner University Application: Complete Zhejiang University’s Application for exchange students application for exchange students (at a preparation meeting). Make PDFs of your passport biopage, unofficial transcript, and signed health form. Submit completed application to Dr. Berka by April 10In advance of this meeting, please look over this ZJU fact sheet. Students will be signing up for the intensive Chinese language and culture program. If you need help when filling out the online admissions portion of your application, please see the screenshots from ZJU here.
  4. IDI Meeting/Testing: In this meeting, students will learn about the Intercultural Development Inventory, followed by a mandatory IDI testing session.


  1. URI Office of International Education – Step 2: If you have not already done so, complete Phase 2: Post-Decision of your URI Application for IEP Study Abroad. This includes your Pre-Approval Form. Deadline: May 1st 
  2. Pre-departure Meeting: TBA. This meeting will serve as a final overview of the plans for the year abroad.
  3. Start Visa Application: Fill out the online visa application form in a group session organized by Prof. Berka. Bring two passport photos.
    • Apply for a visa as a group. You can submit the application through China Silk Tours (China Silk Tours, 280 Madison Ave Suite 907, New York, NY 10016 Tel: 1-212-679-6888 F: 1-212-679-6851) or you go to the New York Consulate yourself to complete the process.
    • You will need to submit the following materials:
      1. Copy of your passport
      2. Fee for visa processing and Fedex to send back your passport to you written out to “China Silk Tour”
      3. Flight itinerary
      4. ZJU admission letter and visa form (Dr. Berka will inform you when it arrives).

June – July

  1. Travel arrangements: Students are responsible for their own travel. Many students like to make arrangements together so that you travel with some URI friends, so play early. Make sure you contact the university to ask when the best time is to arrive. Book flight to China to arrive for September. Note: You should only plan to arrive a couple of days before the start of the semester for Zhejiang University since you will get housing in the international dorm. The beginning of the semester varies from year to year and is based on the dates of the Chinese New Year. You can view the 2022-2023 Academic Calendar here.

While in China

June – August

  1. Coursework: Begin your language immersion program (if applicable).
  2. Arrival: If you need help getting settled once you are in Zhejiang, IEP’s main contact at Zhejiang University’s Office of Global Engagement is Jing Xie,


  1. Begin semester program.
  2. Scholarship Aid/Financial Aid: Applies as usual

December – January

  1. Prepare for internship:
    • Location/assignment to be worked out with Dr. Berka
    • Working papers required – The ZJU International University Office will help you with visa extensions/police district registration.
    • Fill out the Required IEP Internship Application in URI Abroad by the Spring Course Registration Deadline (Jamie Loredo from OIE will email this to you). You MUST fill this out so that OIE can enroll you in the 12 credits you need to maintain your student status.
  2. Getting Courses Transferred and Intent to Graduate (if applicable):
    • Upon completion of the exchange program, you will need to have
      your program’s institution send an official transcript to OIE so that your transfer credit can be evaluated. Please refer to OIE’s Transfer Credit policy for more information.
    • If you will be graduating, you will need to fill out the appropriate Intent to Graduate Form at least a semester before you graduate.
    • Read additional in-depth instructions regarding the Intent to Graduate process for the College of Engineering.
  3. Housing: If applicable, begin looking for housing around your internship area using the social media pages for your city or other online platforms.
  4. Winter Break: You can use some of this time for housing interviews or researching your internship company/location!

Late February – Late August

  1. Take exams (if not already completed).
  2. Begin your internship: Usually from February – August.
  3. Courses: Work on online Spring Semester course work.
  4. Advising: Check-in with your advisor and get your advising hold and any other hold lifted so that you can register for Fall semester courses.
  5. Register for Fall Semester courses.