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The Four Phases of Cultural Adjustment

If you plan to study in a foreign country, most likely you look forward to finally reaching your destination. After all, you’ve spent so much time preparing yourself for the trip: you’ve packed and repacked, saved money, worked out a travel itinerary. It’s only natural to place so much importance on the moment of your arrival. However, you should know that there’s so more to prepare for! The journey doesn’t end once you arrive. In fact, that’s when it really begins.

Those who have studied abroad often talk about ‘culture shock’ or ‘culture fatigue,’ a process they underwent once they arrived in the host country. Often they describe it as a series of phases through which they passed during their time abroad. If you’re planning to spend quite a long time in a foreign country, consider familiarizing yourself with these phases.

Phase 1: Cultural Euphoria

You’ve just arrived in a foreign country. You’re standing outside, watching people walk by. Your luggage is at your side, and you’re far from home. You’re excited. You’re eager to explore new things, meet new people, and finally begin your studies. As you gaze about, you realize that here for your observation is an unfamiliar culture. How exciting!

Phase 2: Cultural Confrontation

But later, you finally understand that, like it or not, you are also a part of that unfamiliar culture and subject to its whims and fancies. You’re both observer and participant, and as such, you must confront this new reality. You’re no longer immune to the stresses of everyday life. In fact, you’re overwhelmed by them, because everything is so alien to you in this new land! You’re terrified, perhaps lonely, and you miss the familiar life you once had.

Phase 3: Cultural Adjustment

You seek solace in the predictability of your daily routine. You throw yourself into your studies. Maybe you explore a little further beyond your area of comfort. Time passes and you one day realize that you’ve suddenly gotten pretty good at maneuvering through this new country. Sure, you still occasionally feel like an outsider, but you’re comfortable with this label because you understand the your struggles.

Phase 4: Cultural Adaptation

By this time, others mistake you for a local, so confidently do you carry yourself into every situation. You communicate well with all kinds of people. You can spot subtle differences in the culture of your host country. More importantly, you’re attuned to how these subtle differences create new and exciting situations to experience. You eagerly explore beyond your comfort zone. You can’t get enough of this new world, and you can’t bear to leave it. Ultimately, you understand that while you have adapted quite well to the culture, there is much about it that you still don’t know understand. And you’re okay with this.

This guest post is contributed by Angelita Williams, who writes on the topics of online colleges and universities. He welcomes your comments at his email Id: angelita.williams7 @gmail.com.

Advice On How To Study Abroad

Are you interested in meeting new people, seeing new places, or trying new things? Are you looking for something to make your resume stand out in the crowd? Are you looking to take courses for college credit next summer? Consider studying abroad.

What is study abroad?

Study abroad is the opportunity to take courses for college credit in another country. This can be done through study abroad vendors, such as International Studies Abroad (ISA) or CIEE, as well as university faculty-led programs.

Where can I study abroad?

Many colleges/universities will accept credits from foreign universities that are U.S. accredited. There are study abroad opportunities on every continent, even Antarctica! Popular destinations for study abroad students include, but are not limited to: Australia, China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, South Africa, and more!

What can I study?

Study abroad vendors offer students a wide range of courses, from foreign languages to natural sciences, business and marking to studio and performing arts. Before applying and registering for courses through any study abroad vendor, be sure to have course credits pre-approved by your college/university. That will ensure that the credits will transfer back and count towards your degree plan.

How can I afford it?

Look for scholarship opportunities, especially within your college or university. If your college or university has a study abroad office, there may be scholarship money available for you, as well as financial aid. Depending on tuition and fees for your college university and the price of the study abroad program, you might find it cheaper to take summer courses abroad than at your home institution!

I want to study abroad… what do I do first?

1. Discuss your study abroad plans with your advisor. He/she will be able to guide you to select the best courses to take abroad.

2. If your institution has a study abroad office, make an appointment to discuss your study abroad options, as well as apply for your school’s program, if necessary. The study abroad office will also aid you in getting your courses pre-approved.

3. Apply for a U.S. passport. If you are staying for more than sixty days, the country in which you would like to study may require you to get a visa. You can find information about passports, as well as visa requirements for specific countries on the government travel website.

4. Apply for scholarships and financial aid, if needed.

5. Once your courses are pre-approved by your college/university, apply for the study abroad program. There is usually an online application with a non-refundable application fee. It will also provide you with dates for payment and payment options. Keep an eye out for any information/instructions materials in your e-mail and your mailbox. Your program will provide you with a housing application, packing list, etc. prior to your departure.

6. Book your airline tickets. Make sure that you have plenty of time between connecting flights. Two hours is a great layover period for international flights, just in case there’s a long line or you have problems getting through security and customs.

7. Read up on the country you will be studying in. Learn about the language, culture, history, politics, etc. The more you know, the better you will adjust to living there whether it be for a few weeks or several months.