The OCS Experience: Tools and Technology

Tools: Do you really need them?

There are plenty of tools that you could possibly take with you on your program, but you'll want to weigh carefully all considerations before you decide to do so. It's very easy to become bogged down with many tiny bits in many bulky cases.

Below is a table of the most commonly requested items, and a series of considerations that you should take into account before deciding to go high tech on your trip.

Keep in mind that you should always allow yourself plenty of time for testing and becoming acclimated to any thing you take with you. Your Academic Computing Coordinator can help!

Item Pros Cons Battery Power Conv.
Plug Adapter
Testing / Considerations
Laptop - w/ all cables, adapters, etc. Easy access, always compatible with files, ITS may be able to help from afar Heavy, lots of little parts to keep track of, ISPs are hard to find X X Getting all files on laptop prior to departure, getting all necessary software, getting a good ISP, power conversion, plug adapters, allow lots of time for testing
Portable Printer Can print most things wherever you are Not so portable, ink is pricey, heavy, slow, awkward to use X X Are there any other ways to get paper docs? Enough ink for the whole trip? Exploding ink in luggage. test, test, test
Digital Still Camera High quality, instantly usable photos, can store many photos, easy to backup Need storage, special batteries, not very rugged, need reliable power X X Recharging batteries, storage discs or computer necessary
* Digital Video Camera High quality video Need special batteries, reliable power X X Recharging batteries, Reliable power is critical, do you REALLY need video?
Speakers Plays audio from any source one more thing to lug around Optional Are they powered? Should they be?
LCD Projector portable classroom heavy, complicated, many cables X projector bulb may go out, power conversion, needs a screen ...
iPad/iPhone small, stores files and audio, flexible interface Not all content is compatible. X See Apple's support website for more information on using these tools abroad
Flash Drive Stores any type of file, very small, doesn't need internet Easy to lose To access files, you also need a USB compatible computer.


 Everything that needs to be charged has to be plugged into something. That something may be a wall socket. Even though the prongs on your regular charger may match the holes in the socket in the wall, the amount of charge your adapter is expecting may not match the amount of charge the socket provides. This can fry your device or its charger, which is bad. Research the kind of adapter you will need at your destination. ITS may have adapters available.


It's a sad truth that you will likely need or want some kind of e-mail access while you are traveling.

Before you go:

  • Unsubscribe or stop mail on all newsletters (NWA, NYT, journals, listservs, etc)
  • Clean your inbox; it will make email load a lot faster
  • Export your address book to a readable format - Yes, you can take it with you!

While on the road:

  • Are there internet cafes at your location? They could save you from having to lug a laptop around
  • If you have a laptop, get an ISP. How much will it cost? Who will set it up?
  • Be prepared to lose contact! Sometimes it just doesn't work and you will have to rely on Plan B (hint: have a Plan B)
  • Plan B tips: Make sure you have important information on paper (itinerary etc.)

Student Support

For many of your students, this is the first time they have ever left the country. They are not used to international traveling and may not know the options they have for access to e-mail and their files.

  • The first question is: Do you want them reading their e-mail while abroad? If part of the OCS experience is being distant from the home culture, e-mail can negatively intervene. Don't be afraid to request that your students not use e-mail more than once a week or month
  • They will need limited access for getting important school info, etc. How and where will they get it?
  • ITS representatives can be available to speak or provide handouts for your pre-departure meetings. Don't forget to ask your coordinator for assistance!