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INTERNATIONAL STUDENT CENTER - STUDY ABROAD

INTERNATIONAL STUDENT CENTER - STUDY ABROAD

Diversity,
Identity,
Culture

Diversity, Identity & Culture:

Before, during & after 

Learn about addressing issues of diversity, identity and culture as you prepare to travel, during your time abroad, and after you return home.

Before you travel

One of the best things you can do before you travel is to learn about the culture of your host country and explore how you will best fit into the local society. 

  • Review multicultural considerations for tips about how to understand issues of multiculturalism — race, ethnicity, religion, and more — as well as how to consult with other students for advice before you travel.
  • Women, prepare yourself before you travel by doing adequate research so you'll have an idea of what to expect as a woman in your host country.
  • All students need to be aware of issues related to sexuality in other countries. LGBTQ students in particular need to be informed regarding the receptivity and social climate of their host country.
  • Check out these "Learn about your destination" tips from Northwestern University!

While you're abroad

Take a deep breath — what might seem strange and different will seem new and exciting in just a short time!

  • Get involved!  Join a few clubs or attend a few activities sponsored by your university or local community.
  • Rely on the locals to explain things to you...When in doubt, ask!  They know better than you why things are the way they are...however, make sure to ask in a polite rather than condescending way.
  • Women, talk to women in your host country to learn about local cultural practices. Is it approriate and safe to smile at strangers? To be seen alone with a male companion? Are there areas or particular places it's best to avoid? Practice sexual safety abroad.
  • LGBTQ students, search out welcoming institutions and hangouts. Contact with local support networks and LGBTQ communities can help ease your transition and provide a base to explore your sexual identity in the host culture. While abroad, practice sexual safety.
  • Check out these "Cultural Adjustment" tips from Northwestern University!
  • Thinking of staying abroad for an additional semester? Contact your Education Abroad Advisor.

After you return

Just like going abroad, returning home can involve a period of adjustment. As with traveling abroad, returning home may trigger feelings of excitement, trepidation, alienation, frustration, boredom, depression — even reverse homesickness. In fact, re-adjusting to home may feel even stranger because we generally don't expect to have to re-adjust to familiar surroundings.  When you return home from abroad, you’ll experience another period of adjustment. Typical phases are return anxiety, re-entry shock, and finally, re-integration.

  • Return anxiety: Define return anxiety.
  • Re-entry shock: Just like going abroad, returning home can involve a period of adjustment known as re-entry or "reverse culture" shock. As with traveling abroad, returning home may trigger feelings of excitement, trepidation, alienation, frustration, boredom, depression, changes in goals and priorities, negativity or intolerance toward your home country including behavior, attitudes, customs, and common social practice — even reverse homesickness. In fact, re-adjusting to home may feel even stranger because we generally don't expect to have to re-adjust to familiar surroundings. Re-entry shock can be more difficult than the initial culture shock.
  • Re-integration: During your time abroad, you undoubtedly changed and grew in a number of ways, both personally and intellectually. Because of these changes, you may notice that some of your relationships are a bit different than they were before, or that you now view your own culture through a different, and perhaps more critical, lens. Sometimes you may not even realize the ways in which you've changed until you have spent some time at home. Re-integration involves figuring out how to meld the parts of you that are new into your old life. Much of the learning from your study abroad experience will occur from this point on, as your experience "sinks in" and you have the necessary distance and time to reflect on all that has happened to you. It is from this time of readjustment forward that you will truly develop the competence to move between and in and out of different cultures.

Cultural Informant

Find a trusted host country national willing to explain the culture to you from an insider perspective. Your informant could be an on-site staff member, host family member, or peer with whom you feel comfortable. Ask all of your embarrassing (and potentially offensive) questions, and you will likely be more accepting of cultural differences, rather than simply frustrated by them.

Review this important study abroad information provided by the State Department.

Vote while abroad!

Remember to register to vote! Now that you are a global citizen, make sure to exercise this important responsibility by registering here.

8 Tips for dealing with post study abroad blues

Photo: Female student aboard train looking unhappy and gazing out windowThis article offers excellent advice, with tips including "Call your mom," and "Keep in touch with friends you met abroad," and "plan to Study abroad again!"  Read it.

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INTERNATIONAL STUDENT CENTER
5500 Campanile Drive, San Diego, CA 92182-5101 Tel: 619-594-1982 Fax: 619-594-1973 Email: isc.reception@sdsu.edu