Have Fun Abroad, Just Not Too Much Fun!

Your bags are packed, tickets are purchased and passport in hand; you are ready to study abroad!  The odds are you’ll be safe while abroad, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.  Here are a few tips that will help keep you out of compromising situations that could get you into trouble with the law, or even worse, be harmful to your health.

1. Follow the Law

When abroad, follow the local laws. Your host country’s laws may differ from U.S. laws. Typically, you’ll learn about specific laws during your program orientation. But remember, ultimately it’s your responsibility to know your host country’s local laws. As a rule:

  • If something is illegal in the U.S., it’s probably illegal in your host country.
  • Don’t fool yourself and think that local authorities will give you a break because you’re a foreign student.
  • Infractions considered minor in the U.S. many times carry severe penalties in other countries.

2. Rights of the United States Do Not Apply Abroad

Once you leave the U.S., the civil rights and liberties accorded to you by the U.S. constitution don’t apply. Some countries don’t even have basic laws that we are granted in the U.S. If you’re uncomfortable with this, consider studying in a different country.

3. If in Trouble

If you find yourself in trouble for breaking the law in your host country, contact the local U.S. embassy or consulate.  If you are arrested, the embassy and consulate can visit you in jail. With your authorization, the consulate can notify your family or friends and deliver request for money or aid. The consulate can help you choose a local attorney to ensure you are receiving all of your rights under the law of your host country. Consulates, however, cannot guarantee your release from jail.

4. Alcohol Use Abroad

Research your host country’s drinking laws and customs. In many countries, the legal drinking age is lower than that of the U.S. However, in some parts of the world, drinking alcohol is highly restricted or even illegal.

If drinking alcohol at your age is legal, remember to be smart about how much you consume. Being drunk in an unfamiliar country could lead to dangerous situations. Also, be aware of the risk of date rape, which can happen to both women and men. Sometimes, people will buy you drinks and add date rape drugs to them. For your safety, you should buy your own drinks and never leave your drink unattended.

The asking yourself the following questions will help make your time abroad not only fun but safe!

  • What should I do in case of emergency? Who should I contact?
  • What is the equivalent of 911 in my host country?
  • Do I have any health issues that I will need to take care of while I’m abroad?
  • What medications will I need to take with me?
  • What are the local laws?
  • What are common crimes in my host country?
  • How can I safely get around? Is public transit safe and reliable?
  • Are there things I should look out for as a pedestrian?
  • What is appropriate dress and behavior in my host country?

Learn what other students have to say about their experiences abroad:

Student Travel Blogs: http://www.diversityabroad.com/blogs

Study and Travel Forum: http://www.diversityabroad.com/travel-forum

Parents Just Don’t Understand! Help Your Parents Understand the Importance of Studying Abroad

 

You want to go abroad, but you think your parents won’t understand why you should go.  During this Christmas holiday (and after) share the following 3 benefits of study abroad with your parents:

Reason 1: Studying abroad will enhance your resume and can make you more employable

By studying abroad, you will gain skills that employers value such as cross-cultural communication and competency as well as the ability to adapt to unfamiliar situations.  Remind your parents that when you graduate you will be competing for jobs and for spots in graduate school with students not only your own institution but from around the world. Studying abroad can be the thing that gives you an edge over your competition locally and internationally.

Reason 2: Studying abroad is academically beneficial

Whether it’s studying a foreign language, taking courses not offered at your home university or learning a different style of teaching, study abroad offers countless academic benefits. Talking to your parents about the academic aspect of study abroad will show them that going abroad will enhance your academic experience and be beneficial for you now and in the future.

Reason 3: Studying abroad will increase independence and your self-confidence

You’ve probably heard the saying that if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. We disagree.  If you can make it in Beijing, Istanbul, London, or Rio de Janeiro you can make it anywhere! Whether it’s navigating through a city where you don’t speak the language or simply dealing with and resolving conflict in another culture, let your parents know that studying abroad will help you build independence, increase self-confidence and be better prepared to face future challenges.

In addition to these three benefits be ready to answer these questions your parents may have about study abroad:

Why do you want to go abroad?

Will it be safe?

How much will it cost?

Will it delay your graduation?

Where do you want to go? Why?

How will we stay in contact?

Ultimately you know your parents the best. Think about what questions they ask about study abroad an be ready to answer them.

Learn more about study abroad benefits: http://www.diversityabroad.com/study-abroad/benefits-to-study-abroad

For your parents, make sure they learn more about study abroad for parents here: http://www.diversityabroad.com/parents/why-your-child-should-study-abroad

Get Over It! Managing Culture Shock Abroad

The spring will soon arrive and many of you are preparing to go abroad.  What you need to remember is that when you go abroad, you will experience new cultures, people, food, music, and probably a new language. All of the “newness” plus the lack of familiar surroundings and people might cause you to have some anxiety, which is called culture shock. Culture shock can be put into four stages. Once you become familiar with these stages, you will be better able to cope with it.

1.   Honeymoon Stage Think of the first stage of culture shock as the honeymoon stage. This occurs in the first few days of arriving in your host country. Symptoms of the honeymoon stage 

  • Excitement and euphoria
  • Anticipation of everything that you are about to experience
  • Fascination with everything and everyone you encounter
  • Eagerness to learn the language spoken in your host country
  • During the honeymoon stage, you will be eager to take on the challenges of living abroad.

2.   Frustration Stage After the honeymoon stage, your initial excitement may wane. You may also start to feel irritated, signaling the onset of the frustration stage. Frustration can occur for various reasons. Symptoms of the frustration stage

  • Some of your initial excitement dissipates
  • Feelings of anxiety, anger and homesickness creep in
  • You might reject your new environment and begin to have a lack of interest in your new surroundings
  • You become frustrated with trying to speak a foreign language

How to handle the frustration stage

  • Don’t blame the host country or its people for your feelings. Anxiety and frustration happens to millions of people who study, work, or travel abroad.
  • Remember, you are in a new environment and getting accustomed takes time. How you handle this frustration determines how you grow from your experience abroad.
  • Don’t be negative; you will only prolong the feelings of frustration.
  • Stay positive. Think about the experience you’re having while living abroad and learning about a new culture, people, and food.
  • Try keeping a journal chronicling your experiences.

3.   Understanding Stage The understanding stage arrives when you develop a more balanced view of your experience abroad. Characteristics of the understanding stage

  • You become more familiar with the culture, people, food and language of your host country
  • You have made friends
  • You feel less homesick
  • You become more comfortable with speaking and listening to the language spoken in your host country
  • You feel more relaxed in your new environment
  • You better handle the situations you previously found frustrating

4.   Acclimation Stage During the acclimation stage you will begin to feel like you really belong in your new environment. Characteristics of the acclimation stage

  • You are able to compare the good and bad of your host country with the ups and downs of your home country
  • You feel less like a foreigner and more like the host country is your second home
  • You laugh about things that frustrated you at the earlier stages of culture shock

Once you reach the acclimation stage, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you can live successfully in two cultures; this is a huge milestone.

What! People Like You Can’t Study Abroad.

Sure You can! Whether you are an athlete, STEM student, first generation college student, or financially strapped, YOU can study abroad. Study Abroad takes timing to succeed. The sooner you start preparing to study abroad, the better your experince will probably be. If you’re planning to study abroad Summer 2011, start the process by following these steps:

1,   Meet with your Study Abroad or Academic Advisor: Each school has different policies for stud abroad. Your school may even have different policies for different majors. Meet with your study abroad or academic advisor to discuss your interest in going abroad. Your advisor can help you understand how study abroad fits in with your academic plan

2.   Research Study Abroad Program: There are hundreds of study abroad, intern abroad, teach abroad, volunteer abroad and language abroad programs. Choose a program that fits your academic and personal goals for going abroad. See Choosing the Right Program

3.   Apply for Study Abroad Programs: Study Abroad Programs fill up quickly. Apply for two or three programs as soon as possible, or at least a few months prior to the application deadline. Review the application carefully. If your school is the program’s sponsor, see your study abroad advisor for specific application information. For all other programs, contact the program administrator directly for application questions and deadline.

4.   Get Study Abroad Courses Approved: Once you have applied, see your academic or study abroad advisor as soon as possible. Discuss with them what classes you will take abroad. You must have your classes approved before going abroad. That will ensure that you get credit for the classes you’ll take abroad.

5.   Apply for Financial Aid: Apply early for scholarships, grants, federal or personal student loans to study abroad. Ask your study abroad advisor about grants your school may provide. If you are not going to a school-sponsored program, contact your program and ask about financial aid. See Study Abroad Financial Aid

6.   Prepare for the Adventure: You’ve chosen your program, and you have your classes approved. Now it’s time to plan your trip. Follow these steps:

You’re The First In Your Family To Study Abroad? You Better Be Prepared!

Being a first generation student to study abroad can be an overwhelming experience, however, you do not have to go it alone.  In preparing for study abroad, here are a few tips to help you successfully navigate the process:

  1. Talk to Your Advisors and Fellow Students:  When preparing to study abroad, seek advice from people at your current university or college.  Generally, most study abroad advisors are open to discussing studying abroad with students.  In addition, talk to students who have already studied abroad.  They can give you firsthand advice about the process of living abroad. Some universities have organizations specifically focused on advising and preparing students to study abroad.
  1. Personal Research:  Do personal research by reading books about study abroad. There are many books available that can guide you through many of the issues you will face during your studies in your host country.  Of course, books may not answer all your questions, but they are a good place to start.
  1. Find Support:  Once abroad, it is important to have a support unit in place.  Form a cohort with other students in your program.  Having a group to work with will provide you with the support needed to successfully navigate your program.
  1. Take Advantage of Opportunities: Do not return from your program abroad without taking advantage of international opportunities. While abroad, your uniqueness will be a great icebreaker to help you make friends with locals.

Having support and information before and after studying abroad can go a long way in helping you prepare for your time abroad.  Use the study abroad search function to find a program that works for you.

Diversity Abroad Global Ambassador Internship

You studied abroad.  Guess what? Your study abroad experience doesn’t have to end.  Join us and continue to share your experience abroad with your classmates as a Diversity Abroad Global Ambassador.  Below you will find further details about the Diversity Abroad Global Ambassador internship program.

Application:

The application process is the following:

1. Complete the Diversity Abroad Global Ambassadors internship application and submit a photo of you (which will be used for your profile) from your time overseas to Antonio, areyes@diversityabroad.org.

2. Once we review your application if you’re a fit we’ll contact you to discuss the internship in more detail.

3. You’ll receive training from Diversity Abroad on how to effectively promote study abroad to students on your campus and in your community. You will begin your position during the start of the spring semester.

Eligibility:

  • Recommended by Study Abroad Office
  • Spent the Summer, Semester or Year Study Abroad
  • Preferred member of underrepresented group
  • Passion for study abroad

Minimum Requirements:

  • Attend study abroad, graduate school, career-related and or cultural / diversity event on campus
  • Gather student questionnaires and speak with 3 university staff/faculty per semester visit, establish classroom visits, and info session, etc.
  • Hang Diversity Abroad  posters on your campus, if permissible
  • Participate in other promotional activities
  • Serve as a reference source for prospective students interested in the study abroad destination you lived and your experience
  • Submit photos/video to alumni photo contest
  • Participate in Diversity Abroad social media campaign on Facebook and Twitter
  • Provide Diversity Abroad with testimonials/ quotes we can use on website and for various marketing endeavors

Possible Activities:

  • Attending and/or initiating campus events
  • Student Panel Discussions
  • Student Organization Events
  • Study abroad and internship fairs
  • Classroom presentations and information sessions
  • Submit articles campus newspaper
  • Work closely with study abroad office
  • Visit three local high school

Training:

  • You will review the Diversity Abroad  website in detail and be prepared with questions from students, staff and faculty at your university
  • A Diversity Abroad Representative will contact you to discuss your responsibilities including brainstorming ideas, campus engagement and scheduling campus visits

Incentives:

  • Diversity Abroad Global Ambassador’s t-shirt
  • An introduction to the field of international education
  • Top performing Global Ambassadors will be highlighted in Diversity Abroad Newsletter
  • Fantastic resume-builder – can put Diversity Abroad Global Ambassador Internship as work/volunteer experience
  • Certificate from Diversity Abroad and priority consideration for open part-time and full-time positions and letter of reference
  • $75 Visa Gift card

 

 

NO One Cares that You Studied Abroad!

Or do they? You’ve just returned home after an adventure abroad. With delight, you tell your friends and family about the beautiful sights you’ve seen, the delicious food you’ve eaten, and the interesting people you’ve met. As time goes on, you may start to feel that no one is interested in hearing your repeated tales of exploration and discovery. However, that is the furthest thing from the truth. There are many students in the U.S. and around the world who are eager to know what it’s like to live abroad. Here are several ways you can effectively share your experience with an awaiting audience:

Blogs

Have you considered writing about your experience abroad? Blogs can be a great outlet for sharing your experiences with a community of likeminded individuals. Blogs can also great sources of inspiration for students who are looking for guidance and information about what it would be like to live abroad from a student perspective.

Sharing Video and Photos

As the old saying goes, “A picture speaks a thousand words”—with this I would include videos as well. You’ve taken hundreds, let’s be honest, thousands of pictures of your adventures abroad. But, what have you done with them. Most likely they are going unused on your camera or laptop. Uploading your photos and videos to sites like Diversity Abroad will give meaning to your photos and videos by enriching the lives of others who will be encouraged to seek their own adventures abroad.

Forums

Have tips and suggestions for students wanting to study abroad? Try joining online discussion forums. Forums provide you with many opportunities to share your thoughts and answer multitude of students’ questions about living abroad.

Your experiences are priceless. Sharing your life abroad with others will give those experiences greater meaning and encourage students, just like you, to take the next step to set off on their own adventure and explore the world around them.

To learn more about ways to share your experiences abroad, check out the following Diversity Abroad links:

Study and Travel Abroad Blogs: http://www.diversityabroad.com/blogs

Study and Travel Abroad Forums: http://www.diversityabroad.com/travel-forum

-Tony Reyes, Diversity Abroad