Going abroad can be one of the most exhilarating learning experiences of one’s life; it can also be bewildering and frustrating, leaving a student homesick and you feeling helpless. You can better understand, support and enhance your student's international experience by investigating what that person is likely to encounter in terms of cross-cultural experience and adjustment.
Students experience cross-cultural adjustment differently, have different emotional and physical reactions, and learn different things from the experience. The information and guidelines about the intercultural experience we've presented here are based partially on evaluations from past program participants. Keep in mind that we depict a typical experience abroad. Students experience cross-cultural adjustment differently, have different emotional and physical reactions, and learn different things from the experience.
Cross Cultural Adjustments during Pre-Departure details what your student may experience prior to departure. It also provides advice to help you and your student prepare emotionally for their coming adventure.
Cross Cultural Adjustments While Abroad discusses the impact of culture shock and ways to help your student adjust to life abroad.
Learn more about your student's re-entry into the US after going abroad.
It is also important to remember that learning and personal awareness resulting from a study abroad experience does not stop when participants return home. Instead, studying abroad is part of a life-long process of learning. The process starts in the planning stages of the experience, continues through the time abroad, and often extends years after the return home as new understanding develops about previous experiences abroad.
"Culture refers to the total way of life of particular groups of people. It includes everything that a group of people thinks, says, does, and makes—its customs, language, material artifacts and shared systems of attitudes and feelings. Culture is learned and transmitted from generation to generation."
–Robert Kohls, a renowned cross-cultural and diversity trainer
Our culture influences who we are and how we relate to the world. Because we have grown up with this culture, we are comfortable in it. Our values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors are shaped by our experiences in our culture.