Study Abroad Resources
Be Ready, Get Set, GO ABROAD!
Tips for your adventure abroad:
• You will adjust to your new cultural situation.
(Be patient with yourself and others.)
• Stay curious – about your own responses and the situations you experience.
• Avoid negative thought patterns – but pay attention to them!
(They are giving you a signal that you are trying to manage difficult feelings that are arising.)
• Maintain an attitude of contribution – to your study abroad community, your home-stay family and your host community.
• Remember: If distress gets in the way of your studies or engaging in your experience, reach out for support to get things sorted ASAP!
Highs & Lows
Making a cultural transition is a process. In fact, that process started when you made the decision to study abroad – you began with a curiosity and a leap into the unknown.
Successful adjustment involves embracing the entire journey – from the first leap to the return home:
- pre-departure preparation
- in-country experience
- and finally, re-entry and beyond
Navigating that journey requires that you maintain a sense of curiosity – about yourself as you grow and change and learn about others you meet and with whom you will find interesting similarities and differences. Take that curiosity into your return as well: how will you integrate your rich experience abroad into your friend and family relationships back in your home culture?
Embrace it all – and enjoy every step along the way – even the dips!
Are You in a Cultural Transition?
Transitions tend to create stress in human beings. Our natural fight or flight response to stress triggers a series of physiological responses to prepare the body to run for the hills or start swinging.The transition of adjusting to a new culture can evoke a similar stress-response. Some common signs that you are in a cultural transition are:
- Feeling homesick
- Isolating/cutting yourself off from others
- Depression or sadness
- Irritability/short temper
- Changes in sleeping and eating patterns
- Feeling angry toward host culture
- Loss of concentration/drop in grades
- Missed classes
- Physical symptoms of illness
- Eating disordered behavior
- Binge drinking
Navigating Your Cultural Transition
That tension and stress you may experience during your cultural transition and adjustment is absolutely normal. How you respond to this very predictable stress depends on your experience and the personal tools you possess that can help you make a healthy shift to your host culture during your study abroad experience.
- Start right where you are: Pay attention to your own feelings and behavioral responses as you step into this experience.
- Stay curious about what is happening to you that creates stress or tension. What triggered a feeling of anger or worry or sadness?
- Keep a journal of your experience to chart your cultural growth.
- Learn to manage the stress that arises through healthy choices:
Diet and exercise
Remember to breathe!
Create quiet ‘down time’ in your day
Pay attention to your thought patterns
Be mindful of health and safety issues
Ask for help if difficulty persists!
Consulting for Study Abroad Programs and Directors
Please feel free to contact me as a resource for wellness topics and issues in study abroad programs from directors and staff at the US or the international side of things. Whether you have a question about best practices in the area of wellness and counseling services for students abroad or you are looking for a collaborative professional to review and modify your program’s current wellness offering, I’m available to meet by phone to make an initial assessment about how best to provide you with resources and solutions.
I’ve developed a wellness abroad program and provided orientation workshops, student support groups and provided direct, individual service to students from over seven programs. I recently presented in a panel on Developing Resilience Abroad at the Forum’s 2017 conference in Seattle.
I currently work with clients internationally using a confidential platform which can be a valuable resource for students abroad when English-speaking therapists are not available or accessible and am a provider with most of the international insurance providers. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have questions or would like more information about the consultation services available.
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