Section 2

Section 2 Directory

Preparing to Go – Passport and Visa Information

Visa Information Listed By Country

Packing

Adjusting to Life Abroad

Special Notes On Cultural Differences

Cultural Adjustment

Reentry Adjustment

Contents Page

 

PREPARING TO GO

Information About Obtaining a Passport and Visa

**Apply for your passport immediately, if you have not already done so.**

If you have a passport, make sure that it will be valid until at least six month after the program ends.

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF A PASSPORT? Your country of citizenship issues your passport, and it certifies that you are a citizen of that country. If you are a U.S. citizen, your passport will be issued by the U.S. State Department. US citizens staying within US territory do not need a passport. International students must meet with the director of the International Office to arrange appropriate immigration documents.

HOW TO APPLY FOR A PASSPORT:
Detailed information can be found at http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html

Forms can be obtained at the County Clerk’s Office in Meadville, PA (tel: 333.7300; located on the “Diamond” on South Main Street) OR online at http://travel.state.gov/passport/forms/ds11/ds11_842.html Receiving your passport normally takes 3-4 weeks from the time you submit your forms and documents, but it can take up to 6 weeks during peak travel seasons.

Be prepared for a long process! The passport application
form will give you all of the information you need to apply, so be sure to read it carefully. You will need two photos of a specific size and quality; a state-certified copy of your birth certificate or other proof of citizenship (such as a previous passport); the passport fee in the form of a personal check, certified check, or money order (but no cash); and proof of identity, such as a driver’s license.

Photos suitable for passport applications can be obtained at CVS pharmacy (about $9.00, 392 North Street, telephone 814-724-1184).

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF A VISA?: A visa is a stamp in, or attachment to, your passport and is placed there by the state department (or its equivalent) of a foreign country. It allows you to enter and engage in certain activities in that country (e.g., study, work, be a tourist) for a certain period of time. Since the visa is stamped in your passport, you must send (or bring) in your passport when you apply for the visa. Therefore, you must have a passport before you can apply for a visa. The visa application process varies quite a bit, as each country sets its own visa requirements. Some countries require you to get a visa before you enter the country. Others stamp the visa in your passport upon entry into the country; and some countries will not require that you have a visa at all (although you may get an entry stamp in your passport anyway). Even if you do not need a visa to visit a country, you always need a passport to cross borders.

 

VISA INFORMATION FOR INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL LISTED BY COUNTRY:

DISCLAIMER: VISA APPLICATION PROCESSES SOMETIMES TAKE A LONG TIME; APPLY FOR YOUR VISA AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

Duke and DC students: please read if your semester includes international travel! Bermuda IS international travel!!

Note that some fees quoted on consulate websites are in host country currency, not US dollars.

IMPORTANT: Some financial institutions are now charging transaction fees for currency exchanges done via credit card; find out if the institution handling your credit or debit card charges you a fee when you pay for goods/services in a foreign country.

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AUSTRALIA—JCU:

The program application procedure is tied to the visa application as follows:

  1. Submit your JCU application to the IO; we send it to JCU;
  2. JCU will send us a “request for confirmation” with the courses you’ve been approved to enroll in. Once you sign that confirmation, we send it back;
  3. JCU will then send you the “confirmation of enrollment” (COE) that you need in order to get your Australian student visa;
  4. You will apply for your visa on-line, and use the COE number that has been sent to you. The Australian student visa information is at http://www.immi.gov.au/students/students/chooser/index.htm
    a) Apply for subclass 575 which is the Non-Award Subclass. You will need a credit card to pay for this on-line, and you need to click to agree to buy Australian International Student Health Insurance (this is paid for by Allegheny). REMEMBER: Your credit card might not be processed the first time around as it is actually being processed from Australia, and the credit card company might get suspicious!
    b) Students should receive a confirmation email stating the visa has been issued. Should you not receive this email, yet the on-line system indicates the visa has been granted, you are cleared to travel. The email is not vital for travel purposes. Students can travel with the TRN, Confirmation of Enrollment form should they wish, but again as the visa is electronic, the information is linked to their passport number.
    c) To confirm the status of a student visa, visit https://www.ecom.immi.gov.au/inquiry/query/query.do?action=eVisa, scroll down 1/2 way down the page until this subhead is reached: Online Visa Services. Under that header, click on Online Visa Enquiry Facility. You will need to have your DOB and the Transaction Reference Number (TRN). That will alert you as to the status of your visa.
    d) If you have questions, you can email mailto:eVisa.Students.Helpdesk@immi.gov.au

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CHINA:

You will receive an official letter of acceptance which you will use to obtain a student visa. You can find information here: http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/visas/hrsq/ and here: http://www.travelchinaguide.com/embassy/visa.htm If HIV positive, entry not permitted for any purpose. For more detailed information, contact the Visa Section of the Chinese Embassy, 2201 Wisconsin Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20007 (202/338-6688) or nearest Consulate General: Chicago (312/573-3070), Houston (713/521-9859), Los Angeles (213/807-8006), New York (212/868-2078) or San Francisco (415/674-2940). Internet:www.china-embassy.org

You will need to purchase insurance, either prior to arrival or on-site, and produce evidence upon registration.

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COSTA RICA:

U.S. citizens are not required to obtain a visa to enter the country; however, you will need to extend your entry permit (the stamp in your passport that you received at the port-of-entry in Costa Rica) once the program starts. Call SFS for further information regarding travel to Costa Rica.

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FRANCE—CIDEF, ANGERS / FRANCE—BU, PARIS:

French student visa information can be found at http://www.ambafrance-us.org/spip.php?rubrique102 .

1. Be sure to select the consulate that serves the state you are from (PA and OH residents go through Washington D.C.).
2. Find information on “temporary long-stay visas” (semester students) or “one-year visas” (NB: all-year students will also need to obtain a carte de sejour, or residency permit, upon arrival in France). If you are studying in two locations, you might have to return to the US over winter break to obtain your new visa Paris students will receive additional information from Boston University.

Required items include (please verify this on the French Consulate website):

  • A valid passport
  • Long term application form (online)
  • Passport-sized photograph
  • Self-addressed, prepaid envelope if applying by mail
  • Visa fee (fluctuates; check the website or call 202-944-6015)
  • Letter from Allegheny College International Office verifying student status in U.S. (for CIDEF students)
  • Letter from CIDEF or BU verifying acceptance into program in France
  • Financial guarantee (see website for more information)
  • Proof of medical insurance that is valid in France

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GERMANY—KOLN:

Student visas are NOT required for U.S. citizens studying in Germany; however, each student must register with local authorities upon arrival in Germany and apply for a residence permit.

Check with the host institution for the location of the “Office of Aliens” and for verification of the required items, which include:

  1. Program acceptance letter
  2. Financial guarantee, e.g., bank statement
  3. Proof of medical insurance that is valid in Germany
  4. Small fee
  5. Two passport-sized photographs

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MEXICO—ITESM QUERÉTARO:

Mexican student visa information can be found at http://consulmex.sre.gob.mx/seattle/index.php/visas-requirements. The student visa, valid for up to one year, is called the FM-3 (Fracción VII), and is for exchange students who will stay for one semester or longer. It is obtained at the Mexican consulate with jurisdiction in your home state (see the website above for links). PA residents should contact the consulate in Philadelphia: 11 South Independence Mall East, Suite 310

The Bourse Building
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Tel: (215) 922-4262
Fax: (215) 923-7281
E-mail:deputyconsul@consulmexphila.com

If you have this visa, you do NOT have to fill out the FM-T Tourist Card that the flight attendant will give you on your flight. Be sure to obtain an official stamp on your visa at your port of entry.

Required materials (please verify this information with the consulate in your district):

  1. Passport and one other form of ID (driver’s license, etc.)
  2. 2. Acceptance letter from ITESM Campus Querótaro
  3. 8 photographs (4 front and 4 profile, 2×2 in.)

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NORTH CAROLINA—DUKE

No visa required Special notes: DUKE students participating in the Bermuda portion of the program (spring only) should bring a passport and/or certified copy of their birth certificate.

Washington Semester:

No visa required
DC students participating in a track with an international component will receive further information from the Washington Semester Officials.

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SPAIN—SEVILLE:

Visa information will be included in the packet from CC-CS. It is also available online (with a password). The Embassy of Spain website address is http://www.exteriores.gob.es/Embajadas/WASHINGTON/en/Pages/inicio2.aspx. PA residents should refer to the Spanish consulate in New York City.

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UK—LANCASTER:

U.S. citizens do not need a visa to study in the England. However, carry your letter of acceptance from Lancaster in your passport to present to immigration officials at your port of entry in the UK. Year-long students should check this website:

http://www.britainusa.com/visas/other_show.asp?SarticleType=25&Other_ID=615

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MSID PROGRAMS: Ecuador, Kenya and Senegal:

Detailed information will be sent to you by MSID. In some cases, MSID will help you obtain the visa for the program.

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INDEPENDENT PROGRAMS:

Consult your host country Consulate website (see http://www.embassy.org/embassies/). Program providers usually include information on obtaining visas and other required documents in the acceptance materials.

 

ADJUSTING TO LIFE ABROAD

The experts say that the same thing happens to everybody: Peace Corps volunteers, diplomats, missionaries, soldiers, and foreign students who come to the United States. It happens because it’s never easy to go live in a new environment and it’s twice as hard in another culture. It happens because you, unlike the tourist, didn’t go home when the honeymoon ended but are trying to settle in; and you’re discovering that finding friendship and acceptance is a harder proposition than finding smiles and courtesy. What is this “thing” that happens to everybody? It is the process of adjusting to the host culture.

Study Abroad alums will tell you that one of the great benefits of studying abroad is the experience of finding about another culture closer than is possible at home. However, very few people escape a stage of cultural fatigue or culture shock in the process. While not always easy to deal with at the moment, culture shock is an indicator that you are learning the ways of another society, and it will subside as time goes on. In this section, we will take a look at culture and cultural differences, describe the typical pattern of culture shock and provide some techniques for weathering the less comfortable aspects of your period of adjustment.

Storti describes culture as, “a system of beliefs and values shared by a particular group of people”, but adds that, “it is behavior, the principal manifestation and most significant consequence of culture, that we actually experience” (Storti, 14). E.T. Hall, author of The Silent Language, identifies 10 primary message systems that all cultures use to communicate. These message systems are made of rules and patterns or “signs” used to communicate about such things as interaction between individuals or between groups, livelihood and fundamentals such as eating, dating and mating, the use of space and time, learning and play, self and communal protection, and the use of tools and materials.

While all cultures address these systems in order to live in harmony, each culture develops its own patterns or behavioral norms for each dimension. Can you identify some of the behavioral norms for your own culture in these dimensions? Your host culture probably has different behavioral norms for several if not all of these message systems.

Take temporality, for instance. In the U.S., we value punctuality and it is reasonable for two people who have agreed upon a time, date, and meeting place to expect each other to be ready and available at the designated time. On the other hand, Latin American culture’s value of human interaction and relationships overrides the need to mind the ticking clock. The value system of a culture affects its style of communication and the habits of its members.

The editors of Transitions distinguish between tourists and travelers in this way: “Tourists are those who bring their homes with them to wherever they go, and apply them to whatever they see. They are closed to experience outside of the superficial. Travelers leave home at home, bringing only themselves and a desire to see and feel and take in and grow and learn.”

 

SPECIAL NOTES ON CULTURAL DIFFERENCES

We include the following two excerpts from the Council on International Educational Exchange student handbook, as attitudes towards women and minority groups vary greatly among cultures. Consider that even if you are not a member of a minority group at home, you might be in your host culture.

A Note to Women

Women may not have the same status or role in the host country as in your home country, and women may find themselves in situations where they experience anxiety, confusion, fear, powerlessness, and/or anger. Some past participants have found that many host country nationals have a distorted and stereotyped image of American women (often acquired through advertising, television, and movies) as promiscuous, party-goers, or silly. Local staff can provide insights into the host culture’s view of women and provide suggestions for reducing anxiety while ensuring one’s personal safety.

A Note to Minority Students

Students who are members of minority groups (ethnic minorities, participants with disabilities, participants who are overweight, religious minorities, gay and lesbian students, etc.) may face particular challenges in the study abroad setting. For example, African-American students in St. Petersburg, Russia, and white students in the Dominican Republic may experience similar feelings of discomfort and may learn that host country nationals hold misconceptions about ethnic groups. Non-visible minority groups, such as gay students in China or Japanese-American students in Japan may face different challenges. A gay student, who could be openly gay on the home campus, may feel pressure to modify his behavior in a culture where homosexuality is not accepted or against the law.

 

PACKING

What kind of luggage should I bring?

Remember that you will be carrying your own bags on and off trains, through subways, up and down stairs and escalators and racing through terminals, so be sure that you can handle the burden. Select a lightweight suitcase, avoiding those with zippers that can break easily. Inexperienced travelers often make the biggest mistake of bringing too many clothes and too many suitcases.

Lightweight canvas or nylon (not heavy, hard material) makes the best luggage. Consider bringing a backpack, it will come in handy for short trips abroad. An expandable bag with “fat” wheels is a good carry-on for flights and short trips, too. Remember that airlines require identification on all checked bags, regardless of type. We recommend that your name and address are visible on the inside of your luggage should the outside tag be lost.

There are regulations on the weight and dimensions of baggage on international carriers. Be sure to read your airline ticket for the regulations specific to your airline as the regulations change from time to time or check with your travel agent.

WHAT SHOULD I BRING?

The essential word is utility. Carefully choose your clothing and other things.

Clothing

Keeps in mind that in very few other cultures (if any) do students have the large number and variety of clothing items of the typical American student. No one will be surprised to see you repeatedly in the same outfit. Bring clothes that go well together in a variety of combinations. You may want to consider bringing some older clothes so you don’t feel bad leaving them behind if you can’t fit them into your suitcase at the end of the program.

Think utility. Are your clothes easy to launder (shrink-, fade-, bleed, – pill- and wrinkle-resistant)? Can they easily be washed by hand? Will they dry quickly? Are they heavy or bulky? Do tops and bottoms mix and match?

Consider climate. For instance, students going to Britain might consider that the weather is not as severe as one might expect, because the Gulf Stream serves to moderate temperature extremes. In general, residences and classrooms abroad are not heated to the same extent as here (the average temperature is between 50 – 60 degrees C). Therefore, the best way to keep warm is to follow the trend of the “layered look”: a jacket over a sweater over a shirt over an undershirt, for example.

Casual items such as jeans, shirts, at least one sweater, and appropriate outerwear are essential on all programs. You should also bring a sturdy pair of comfortable walking shoes, which will adequately support your tired feet. Remember, dress casually, but you will need to dress up occasionally if you go places such as the opera, clubs, concerts, or restaurants.

Toilet Articles

Although everything should be available abroad to meet your needs and wants as far as toilet articles, cosmetics and non-prescription drugs, many of these items will be more expensive than in the U.S. It is usually worth paying the higher price abroad than going to the trouble to take a semester or year’s supply of everything that you will need with you.

Prescription Medicines

Try to bring an adequate supply of prescription medications for your entire trip, when possible, and keep them in the original pharmacy containers. Ask your doctor to give you a prescription in case you are questioned at customs. Learn what services are offered in the country, for example, allergy shots are not usually given in the United Kingdom. Also, check with consulate websites and customs to see if you are allowed to bring such medicines into the country you are visiting.

Valuables

Don’t bring your most prized possession on your program or your weekend trips. We suggest that you don’t take Grandma’s beautiful cameo or a $400 camera with you unless you’re prepared to watch them attentively. If something is irreplaceable, leave it at home.

Photographic Equipment

If you are a photographer, bring your camera and a moderate supply of film, which tends to be expensive abroad. It can, however, be purchased at student outlets and duty free at reasonable prices. To save on developing charges you can purchase pre-paid development packets in the U.S. before you leave and then mail your film to a developer (e.g., Kodak) in the States and ask that your film be sent to your permanent address when processed.

Electrical Appliances

In most parts of the world, electricity is not as cheap as in the U.S. If you will be living with a host family, please take special note of the everyday use of electricity in your host country. Students on programs to places such as Costa Rica are discouraged from bringing electrical appliances like hair dryers, irons, or other equipment to these places since electricity is very expensive and the host family will most likely not appreciate the sharp increase in their electric bill.

The electric current in most foreign countries differs from that of the U.S., which operates at 110 volts alternating at 60 cycles. In must of the rest of the world, the standard current is at 220 volts at 50 cycles. In addition, plug prongs are often different. If you don’t use the proper converter or transformer, and plug adapter, you risk burning out your appliance and causing an electrical short. The best advice is to do without gadgets or purchase them there.

If you must bring a few gadgets to a country where the voltage is higher, you can purchase a current converter, which “steps down” the higher voltage abroad, and adapters to change your plug prongs to the local variety, but the difference in the rate of cycles will cause your equipment to operate more slowly. This makes it difficult to operate appliances such as clocks and tape recorders. Computers require a special transformer to operate successfully.

Electronic Equipment

Many students find transistor or other inexpensive radios to be an excellent way of getting accustomed to the language and music of the host country. A “Walkman” type cassette or CD player with AM/FM radio is highly portable and private, and allows you to listen to your favorite music as well as monitor local radio broadcasts.

Do not plan to use a converter for electrically operated equipment since the quality will not be good; it is better to use battery-operated radios or tape players (be prepared for the high cost of batteries). Since they may be awkward to carry and easily broken, you should consider purchasing such items abroad to be sold at the end of your stay.

Should I bring a laptop computer? A computer is a large, visible, and valuable item that you will have to watch carefully and constantly. Check with returnees on advisability of bringing a computer. There are no programs that require a laptop, though some have the resources for using a laptop. If you decide to bring one, remember that you must have a special transformer, not just a converter or adapter, or you will “fry” your expensive hardware. Most computers have dual voltage capability.

Miscellaneous Items

What will your residence supply?Check with the specific program information to learn exactly what will be supplied in your living situation. Sheets are usually provided in all living situations. Students who will be living in dormitories or apartments should plan to bring their own towels, washcloths, and soap. These items may be provided if the student will be staying with families, but check in case there are items that you require that are not supplied. A favorite pillow might be welcome if you are willing to make room for it in your suitcase.

Sports Equipment and Musical Instruments: If you are a great sports buff, you may want to bring your own equipment such as a tennis racket or baseball mitt, but most sports gear is readily available to students for modest rental fees. If you are a musician, you might be considering bringing your instrument. Think, however, about the noise level of the instrument, whether it will be practical to practice in your living space, and the portability of the instrument (in addition to your luggage), particularly if you will be traveling before or after your program.

If you plan to stay in hostels during your travels, a sleep sack is essential. You can make a sleep sack by folding a twin flat sheet in half and sewing up the bottom and half of the side. Alternatively, you can purchase one from a travel store.

Other miscellaneous items you could consider bringing include an American cookbook, photographs from home and of Allegheny, several CD’s of obscure U.S. music, special novels or books in English, and an address book (or mailing labels) filled with the names and addresses of everyone you will write to during your stay abroad (and for your friends that you will make abroad so you can keep in touch). Some gift items such as Gator paraphernalia (magnets, note cards, etc.) or specialties of your hometown/state are useful, too.

 

CULTURAL ADJUSTMENT

“The adjustments we must make to a new culture are invariably of two kinds: we have to adjust or get used to behavior on the part of the local people which annoys, confuses, or otherwise unsettles us; and we have to adjust our own behavior so that it does not annoy, confuse or otherwise unsettle the local people.” (Storti, p. 15)

“Self-awareness is crucial to intercultural learning.” Gochenour states, “Our predispositions, expectations, and reactions affect our perceptions. Our perceptions affect our judgments, how we solve problems and make decisions, and how members of your host culture react to you” (p. 155). Of course, you can’t expect the host culture to “adjust” to your behavior; the burden is on the traveler to adjust to the host culture. Therefore, in addition to observing the behavior of those around you, it is worthwhile to reflect on your own habits.

Stages of Cultural Adjustment (Culture Shock)

A large body of social research indicates that newcomers to a culture pass through a similar adjustment process, although each individual’s situation and response are unique. The length of time to adjust and how deeply one is affected depend on many things, including your own background and culture, the difference between your home and host cultures, and your role in the new culture.

  1. The first few days and weeks abroad will probably be exciting, stimulating and alive. All you see will be strange, new and rich with tradition. Sounds, smells, gestures and movement will crowd your sensory antennae, leaving you exhilarated and exhausted. This is called the honeymoon period.
  2. At the same time, you may begin to experience the first symptoms of culture shock, the unpleasant disorientation that afflicts almost every visitor who enters a strange world. It’s unfair, but often true, that the more eager you are to enter into the host culture and really understand what its people are like the more severe your shock may be. Tourists who come to only gaze, taste and move on are insulated from the shock. They live in hotels, take taxis, use credit cards, and go home in a few weeks. However, you will try to live like a local student, in the “real world,” and you may find it hard at first.
  3. As you begin to understand the communications strategies and values of your host culture, you start to climb out of the doldrums. You will notice yourself more willing to become involved, developing a daily pattern, adapting to new ways and having more satisfying interactions with your hosts. The lucky few may even move into the final stage of adjustment, putting your host culture into perspective with your own culture and your personal values. You will have a solid level of comfort in your host culture and will have regained confidence in yourself and your ability to be a participant in your host culture. This stage usually takes many years to reach.
  4. Faced with the prospect of leaving just when you are starting to feel more comfortable, you may again feel anxious – have you changed? Have your friends changed? Will people understand?
  5. Home again! But it’s not over yet (see: Reentry Adjustment).

As you can imagine, each traveler’s experience and situation is different. The “W-shaped” pattern of adjustment described above is a generalization. Progress toward cultural integration is not always steady! If you are going abroad for a semester or less, you might not achieve seamless integration with the host culture. Remember, you spent much of your pre-adolescent years learning the behavioral norms of your own culture. It takes time to learn the nuances, to gain sense of acceptable behavior in various contexts.

Culture Shock/Cultural Fatigue

Culture shock is what happens when your expectations don’t match up with reality. You may be disappointed with what you see: too much noise and not enough thrill. You may be disgusted with your American classmates – they may seem naive, rude, loud, affected, or provincial. On the other hand, you may feel constantly confronted with evidence that your culture is truly superior and develop a negative attitude towards your hosts. You may even be disappointed in yourself and in your failure to be as articulate as you are at home. As you are learning a new culture, you are confronted with all of your assumptions about how people “should” act and thus come away with a better understanding of your own culture and values, too.

Some triggers of Culture Shock

  • Situational factors and the degree to which they are different from your own culture or form your expectations
  • The presence of structure where you don’t want it and the lack of structure where you need it
  • Increased ambiguity and uncertainly that makes it impossible to predict what is likely to happen next
  • Self-doubt
  • Deprivation of identity reinforcements

At some point after you have gotten over your initial culture shock, you might experience another bout of cultural fatigue. It may be during the long bleak weeks in November or April when you remember your family celebrating holidays at home, while you are still abroad and alone. This second bout sneaks up on you unexpectedly. Where the first episode of culture shock was alarming, threatening and pretty exciting, subsequent recurrences are mostly dull. Some students identify it as homesickness. You feel tired, bored, and inclined to daydream about things back home. You’re weary of beating your head against a wall of indifference, of having people stare, of having to be everlastingly polite instead of natural. All that keeps you from packing to go home is the promise of holiday travel and the embarrassment. Everyone’s timeline of adjustment is different, but most travelers on a prolonged sojourn in another culture experience a recurrence of culture shock symptoms on their path of cultural learning and integration.

What are the symptoms of culture shock?

  • Fatigue, discomfort, generalized frustration
  • A feeling of helplessness, the inability to cope with the demands of the day
  • Excessive preoccupation with personal cleanliness or preoccupation with personal health
  • Excessive fear of being taken advantage of or being abused and subsequent negative feelings toward the host culture
  • Irritability and anger over minor frustrations
  • Loneliness and reluctance to be social
  • Need to interact with or dependence upon members of your own culture
  • Longing for home, being disengaged from the present
  • Loss of creativity; work may decline in quality Model of the cultural adjustment process

Craig Storti, The Art of Crossing Cultures, “What the conscious intellect knows (in this case, that other people are not like us) is often no match for what a lifetime of conditioning has taught us. It’s quite possible for us to cheerfully subscribe to the view that all people are different and still be stunned to come across a Hindu drinking cow urine.” (Storti, pp. 52-3)

Coping Strategies: Culture Shock

While you cannot avoid initial culture shock, you can take steps to make it more bearable. Explore the territory, find a map and strike out on your own. Observe people closely and try to pick up the silent language. Avoid clustering with your American friends; join a club or sports group at your university. Keep a journal and watch yourself change. Above all, keep an open mind and try to accept the people and culture rather than resist them. This requires great maturity, perceptiveness and skill in cross-cultural communication. There is no easy cure for recurrent culture shock except for patience and courage, and an understanding of what is happening to you. It usually passes and then, the days begin to fly and you’ll find there won’t be enough time left.

If you are experiencing culture shock, the following suggestions may help you cope:

Get a good start. Be sure to embark on your journey rested and in good health. Do your research before you go. When you arrive, first try to get a good physical sense of your new environment. Spend some time exploring and mapping the neighborhood that you will be living in. Figure out where and how to do mundane tasks such as laundry and shopping as well as where to go for medical or police assistance.

Keep regular hours. Eat, sleep, and study at about the same time every day.

Get some exercise! Do you like to run, swim or play sports? Walking to class every day is also good exercise.

Go to your classes everyday. It is important to work everyday on your language skills if you are in a non- English speaking country. The more you fall behind, the more overwhelmed you are likely to feel.

Moderate your expectations. Be proud of your “baby steps.” In the first few weeks, your accomplishments will probably include such lofty tasks as successfully using the washing machine without ruining your laundry, quickly and effortlessly changing money at a local bank, bargaining at the local market, exchanging pleasantries with the person at the coffee shop where you have become a regular.

Have some fun! Look for a place that is comfortable for you. Spend some time there. Try to do some things that you enjoy every week.

Seek help if you need it. If you feel sad, angry or homesick for a long time, ask for help! The foreign student office or program contact at your host university may be able to refer you to a counselor with whom you may discuss your concerns.

Above all, keep remembering that culture shock is temporary and that you will eventually get through it. The satisfaction that you have overcome your period of adjustment will be its own reward.

Help is available

Please remember that you are not alone out there. The staff of the Allegheny International Office will help you at anytime throughout your study abroad experience if problems arise. We often hear of our students only through their friends or family who tend to be very worried about you out there in “the great unknown.” Sometimes an off-hand comment in a letter to your friends or family about classes, professors, or even weather can be blown out of proportion. So, be sure to “dump on us” first. Let us help, as we usually can, from our side.

 

WHEN YOU RETURN — REENTRY ADJUSTMENT

You may think it will be “no sweat” to return home to family and friends, but that is not the experience of most U.S. students. Students report the same type of adjustment experience when they come back as they felt when they first arrived abroad, and sometimes it can even be stronger. How have you changed since you left the United States? How have your attitudes and values changed? How have you matured in your opinions and perspective? How have your attitudes and expectations of your friends and family changed?

Take care of yourself— Your diet and exercise patterns will change when you return. You will have jet lag again, or sometimes you might feel tired and/or depressed. Rest, exercise and maintain a healthy diet. Continue any medications you require.

Moderate your expectations— Your trip abroad does not change those who stayed behind. Problems that existed when you left may still await you when you return, or change may have occurred in your absence. On your return, be prepared to realistically face enduring issues or problems in both your circumstances and relationships.

Take time to share your experience— Tell your friends and family about your time overseas. If you feel lonely, or would just like to talk more about your overseas experience, talk to faculty, your study abroad advisor, and other returning students. They can all empathize. Share the most important parts of your trip, and show pictures and mementos. However, be prepared for those who have not traveled abroad to listen only for a short period of time.

Debrief and relive— Take advantage of any re-entry meetings for returning overseas students that the International Office may provide. You’ll have a chance to meet new friends and share your experience with people who will listen and understand.