Learning Abroad Center

Making the Most of Your Experience


You will be abroad for a short amount of time so we recommend limiting your internet use as well as time spent communicating with those back home. Take advantage of the opportunity to explore a new city and meet new people!

Don't rely on using your US cell phone abroad. Check with your provider to find out about international rates, data plans and roaming charges. Most students do not use their US cell phone or calling cards for calls or texts while abroad and instead take advantage of Skype, Google hangout, etc. to communicate with those back home.

Most Global Seminars provide or require basic cell phones for participants. If this pertains to you, you will receive information at your onsite orientation. You will also receive internet access information at your onsite orientation.

Group Dynamics

Global Seminars are unique within study abroad programs because of the strong emphasis on the group. In order to make the most of the group experience it is impor­tant to maintain some basic principles of living and studying together:

  • Get to know your fellow students before you go. You will be together for pre-departure orientations. Utilize this time to make connections and spend time with group members outside of pre-departure meetings to get to know one another.
  • Respect the differences within the group: Respect for each other’s differences is crucial to successfully living and studying in a group. Some differ­ences can be obvious such as gender, religion, physical disabilities or national origin, while others are less obvious such as learning disabilities, social class or sexual orientation. As you are preparing to be open-minded and respectful to the differences of another culture, also prepare to be open-minded and respectful to your fellow classmates.
  • Find strengths in each person: Find strengths in each participant and let him or her do what they are good at.
  • Support one another: You will encounter challenges and moments of frustration while abroad. This is all part of the experience. Support each other in these difficult moments.
  • Recognize how your demeanor affects the group: Each individual wields great power in influencing the group both positively and negatively. Check in with your emotions and demeanor to ensure that you are contributing to a positive group dynamic.   

Cultural Adjustment

Learning about the local culture and adjusting and adapting to it is crucial to any travel abroad experience. The cultural differences you encounter can enrich your life by presenting you with a broadened worldview and new approaches to solving problems.

Tips for Learning About the Local Culture

  • Frequent places like markets, local restaurants or cafés
  • Spark up conversations when possible with host-country nationals (such as with your restaurant server, shop owner, tour guide, bus driver)
  • Ask about his/her favorite restaurant/shop/activity
  • Observe what the locals do. Don’t spend a lot of time in touristy hangouts
  • Take advantage of opportunities that include host country nationals
  • Venture out in smaller groups to make it easier to meet people
  • Make every effort to speak the local language, even if it is just pleasantries (hello, goodbye, please, thank you, etc.)
  • Utilize language apps: duolingo and phrasebook

Tips for Crossing Cultures

  • Be open-minded (Embrace difference and new ways of doing things. Remember: “It’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s just different”)
  • Expand your comfort zone (Try new foods, go to the theater, take public transportation)
  • Stay flexible (You will encounter difference. Things will get off schedule. Go with the flow and live in the moment)

Make the most of your experience

Below are some quotes from students who have recently returned from a Global Seminar. Read about their experiences, and take their advice!

  • “Get out and explore the city - in a small group or on your own if possible. You'll never make it down every winding street or see every building, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. Read up on your (country’s) history before you go - it is very relevant to the coursework, and you know less than you think you do.”
  • “Hands-on cultural experiences helped me to find the answer to questions that I had never thought about asking before.”
  • “Be open minded, remember the big picture”
  • “Studying in a new culture with new friends gave me the best experience in my life.”
  • “Check the weather before going; it might not be as warm as you expect it to be.”
  • “It was amazing to be able to learn about music, art and history in actual museums where the actual works we studied were!”
  • “Pack light! Also pack for all types of weather because it is very unpredictable!”
  • “Be very open and accepting of everyone and their ideas. Try your hardest to engage with the locals because that is how you'll get the most out of your trip.”
  • “Stay positive and have an open mind, it is an experience of a lifetime.”