Compass: Online Pre-Departure Course

A Tool to Prepare Students for DIS

There are many resources available to help students prepare for studying and living in Scandinavia, not least the pages of this website. To ensure all students receive the right information at the right time, DIS curated one cohesive online course that contains essential pre-departure advising and resources.

The Compass Course was designed by alumni and DIS staff to answer frequently asked questions and serve as a resource to students before and during their time abroad. It is mandatory for all admitted students to complete before arrival at DIS.

Enrollment in the Compass Course

Upon registering for DIS, students will be invited to Canvas – our platform for all DIS courses – and asked to use the login/temporary password DIS sends them. When they log in to Canvas, they will have access to the Compass Course. Modules will be available in the months leading up to their departure for Scandinavia; students will have access to module deadlines through their Registration. See below for detailed information regarding what each module entails.

About the Modules Within Compass


Goal: To guide students through course registration and set expectations for a new academic setting


  • Academic Model: Core Courses, Field Studies, Study Tours, and electives
  • Who are DIS faculty, and how teaching styles, classroom settings, and academic expectations are likely to differ
  • Academic policies regarding adding/dropping courses, academic accommodations, and academic regulations


Goal: To encourage students to think critically about their housing as not only a place to sleep, but an opportunity for cultural engagement and community-building


  • Overview of DIS housing options, application and matching process, and tips for writing a successful housing application
  • Introduction and expectations regarding commuting
  • Policies and procedures related to housing accommodations, roommate requests, move-in schedule, and more

Health & Safety

Goal: To provide practical health and safety information, as well as advice on areas students need to start considering in advance of Arrival Day

  • DIS insurance coverage and exclusions, and how to access health care
  • Introduction to the DIS Care Team, its role, and how to get in touch
  • Scandinavian context surrounding urban safety, sexual health and consent, and alcohol and drug use
  • Cell phone plan options and general financial planning
  • Advice and regulations related to ongoing treatment needs, including bringing medication abroad
  • Legal Residence Process: what it is and what students are expected to do in their Student Registration to prepare

Preparing for Your Life Abroad 

Goal: To provide a framework for what it looks like to live like a local in order to spark students’ curiosity about engaging in cultural opportunities


  • Packing list and suggestions for how much luggage to bring for a semester
  • Getting to know Scandinavia: resources, recommendations, and transportation overview
  • Cultural and community engagement opportunities within and outside DIS, including fitness, religion, and identity-based groups
  • Diversity at DIS and in Scandinavia: preparing students for similarities and differences in their new cultural landscape
  • Communication strategy with relationships back home, and how to find balance while abroad
  • Scandinavian media and resources to consider checking out before going abroad