!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Do's for Study Abroad

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Do's for Study Abroad

Much of the advice offered students considering and preparing for study abroad understandably focuses on logistics and safety. As I commented in a previous post, it's also of central importance to ensure that time spent overseas is well-used.

Do practice the language. It almost goes without saying that arranging experiences that help build fluency in the host country's language should be a high priority (assuming the student is not in a country where his/her native language is spoken). The Russian American Cultural Heritage Center offers advice that applies to language study in any foreign country:
In class, in the dorm, and in other safe social situations do not be afraid of making mistakes while trying out your Russian tongue. Most Russians are just happy that you are trying and will help as much as possible. Try to make Russian friends at school, through your family, and during inter-program excursions. Part of being here is learning how Russians behave between themselves. The more you talk with native speakers, the more you will force yourself to learn. You will learn a lot just by listening to the way they speak, in addition to how they speak. Be open to meeting all the Russians you can.
Do be open to the culture. One of the major benefits of international study is developing "cultural fluency." McMaster University in Ontario offers good advice on coping with culture shock, including:
  • Stay focused. Keep in mind your goals and objectives.

  • Develop and/or improve your sense of humour. Laugh and smile.

  • Make friends. Talk to people from the host country and to other foreign students.

  • Avoid the temptation of flocking together with other [people from your own country] on a permanent basis.

  • Read local magazines, watch TV and seek local entertainment...

  • Participate in community activities.

  • Stay in contact with family and friends back home.

  • Work on the new language.

  • Ask for help.
Last but not least, do study. Some students are inclined to treat the academic side of their overseas program as more or less optional. Savvy students recognize that the key is to balance time spent on classes and assignments, and time spent on travel and socializing. The University of Pennsylvania's academic policies and performance guidelines are a paradigm of good practice.

The Forum on Education Abroad provides a comprehensive set of standards that an education abroad provider can use to do a self-assessment of the quality of their offering(s).


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