International Study Resources
Prior to your departure, you should spend as much time as possible learning about the culture into which you will enter, plan your packing and departure, and make arrangements for when you return to continue your studies at Augustana, including any necessary housing, registration and financial aid.
Whether you are a participant on an Augustana study abroad term or if you have decided to do a study abroad program on your own you will have to learn to adjust to different lifestyle, food, cultures, expectations, climate, and time zones. Frustrations and confusion during your first few days and weeks is usually called "culture shock." Variations of culture shock can affect even the most seasoned traveler. Symptoms can include depression, difficulty sleeping or eating, homesickness, trouble concentrating, and irritation with your host culture. If you are having difficulty with any of these issues, try some of the suggestions below. If you do not feel better within a few days, you should contact your on-site faculty or program director.
- Learn as much as possible from the local residents about their culture.
- Keep in touch with other Americans/Augustana students.
- Keep yourself busy doing things you enjoy.
- During free time, do not sit in your room - go for a walk, visit a museum, see a movie.
- Keep in touch with family and friends back home.
- Try to keep your long-range goals in mind.
Fitting in While Studying Abroad
Experiencing a new culture may involve some frustration and feelings of loneliness but they will not last forever. Your study abroad experience will be more enjoyable if you try to become part of the local social environment. However, remember that you are a guest.
- Learn what behavior is and is not appropriate - act accordingly.
- Observe local students in your dormitory, on campus and on the street.
- If you live with a host family, see how they dress and interact with one another.
- Do not be afraid of asking questions about local customs and traditions.
- Do not become the "ugly American" by perpetuating the unflattering stereotype of an American tourist: one that throws money around, drinks too much, is loud and rude, expects all foreigners to speak English (even if you are outside of US borders) and is always in a hurry.
Learning and Respecting Local Customs
It is advisable to do some reading before departing regarding culture-specific norms of friendship and dating between people of any sexual orientation. For instance:
- If you are in a country where women traditionally cover certain parts of their body, such as the head, arms, and legs. Show your respect and understanding of their culture by conforming to the local dress.
- In some countries, it is frowned upon for couples to hold hands or display physical affection in public.
- Most countries have customs associated with religion and sacred places. Learn these customs. Watch your body language: Saying hello or goodbye via a simple hand gesture is done quite differently from country to country - even within Europe.
- When should you shake hands - embrace - or kiss on both cheeks (male and female).
- How close should you sit or stand when talking? These are all items that you should know before you arrive at your study abroad destination.
US Department of State - www.state.gov
Essential help from the US government, for everything from travel safety advisories to crisis assistance for US citizens abroad, as well as contact information for all US embassies and consulates abroad. Also lists foreign embassies and consulates in the US.
- International Travel for US citizens - travel.state.gov/travel
- Travel Warnings and Information - http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_1764.html
- Travel Tips for Students - http://travel.state.gov/travel/livingabroad_studying.html
- Online US Embassies, Consulates and other Missions - http://usembassy.state.gov
- Important Telephone Numbers (for crises involving US citizens abroad: 1.888.407.4747 (within the US) OR from overseas 317.472.2328 - http://travel.state.gov/travel/overseas_contact.html
- Passport Services (How to apply for a US passport) - http://travel.state.gov/passport
- Foreign Entry Requirements (for US citizens traveling abroad as tourists) - http://travel.state.gov/visaamericans1.html
- Foreign Consular Offices in the US (where to apply for visas for other countries) - http://www.state.gov/cor/rls/fco/
- Travel Warning on Drugs Abroad - http://travel.state.gov/traavel/livingabroad_brochures.html
- Background Notes (country information) - http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bg
The World at Your Fingertips Provides information on travel, health, safety issues, financial aid and cultural adjustment.
Study Abroad Student Handbook From the Center for Global Education - an excellent resource.
What's Up With Culture? This website provides a two-part orientation for students. Module 1 "What to Know Before You Go" looks at the importance of awareness of cultural differences, using critical incidents from actual experiences. Module 2 "Welcome Back! Now What?" is intended to prepare students for returning home, from "culture shock" to applying the skills learned abroad in a wide variety of social, academic, professional and personal contexts. Produced by Bruce LaBrack and based on actual experiences of Peace Corps volunteers.
Ask Asia Maps, news, statistics, general references.
Culturally Correct Clothing Advice (for women) Simply click on the first letter of the country you're traveling to and you'll get "what-to-wear" tips.
European Internet Network EINnews provides access to breaking news that is organized within 300+ country, regional, U.S. state and specialized topic sections.
Financial Issues From the University of the Pacific's Cross Cultural Training Student Guide, this site gives advice about budgeting, currency exchange, credit cards, and transferring money.
Lesbigay NAFSA's Lesbigay Special Interest Group's site dedicated to lesbians, bisexuals, and gay students who are traveling abroad.
NAFSA - National Association of Foreign Study Advisors
Subway Navigator A virtual tour of subway routes for all major cities throughout the world.