TIPS For Students by gvz34939


									TIPS                  For Students
Traveling Abroad

before       while        coming
you go       you’re       home

The University of Iowa
Office for Study Abroad

Congratulations on your decision to study abroad!

The staff of the Office for Study Abroad is committed to helping you get the most
out of your sojourn. Whether you will be away for a few weeks on a short-term
program, or for an entire academic year, we know that the experience will have a
lasting impact on you academically, professionally, and personally.

I encourage you to study this handbook, which has been compiled with your
needs in mind. Here you will find everything from tips about guidebooks and
packing to ideas about how you can keep your international experience alive once
you get back. In between, there‘s everything from credit transfer to culture shock,
how to use ATM cards overseas to a discussion of cross-cultural dating patterns.

Please pack this handbook with the rest of your belongings and make use of it
while you’re overseas. Some of the information it contains is important for you to
know before you leave the States, but some of it may only make sense to you after
you‘ve been abroad for a while.

Once again, my staff and I commend you for your commitment to internation-
alize your academic experience. Best wishes for an exciting and meaningful

Janis Perkins, Director
Office for Study Abroad
University of Iowa
1111 University Capitol Centre
Iowa City, IA 52242-1802
T 319/335-0353

Table of Contents
     1	   Before	You	Go	                                                                                                                                1
          Academic	Credit	Flow	Chart 		 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 iv
          Documentation 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			1
          Power	of	Attorney 			 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		2
          Packing			 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		4	
          Airport	Security 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			6
          Guidebooks 			 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		8	
          Country-Specific	Information 			 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		9

     2	   While	You’re	There		                                                                                                                        11
          Health	Issues	 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 	11
          Safety	Guidelines	 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 	16
          Money 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 	18
          Recording	Your	Experience	 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 	20
          Communication 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 			 	15
          Culture	Shock	 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 	24
          Minorities	Abroad	 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 	27
          Gender	Issues	Abroad 	 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 	27
          LGBT	Issues	Abroad 	 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 	29
          Relationships	 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 	30
          Environmental	Issues		 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	32

     3	   Coming	Home	                                                                                                                                35
          Reverse	Culture	Shock	 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 	35
          Getting	Involved 		 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	36

     4	   Resources	and	Information	                                                                                                                  37
          Web	Resources 	 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 		 	37

Academic credit flow chart
Studying abroad is an academic experience. Hopefully this simple flow chart can
help you determine how to ensure that credit from your time abroad is smoothly
absorbed into your academic record here at the University of Iowa.

                                     Select your program
                                    Get a Credit Approval
                                    Form from your OfSA

       Major Credit/
       Minor Credit/                    Elective credit                  General Education
     Certificate Program                                                  Program credit

                                      Automatic, if you
                                    are on a US-accredited
     Consult with your                     program                           Consult with
     academic advisor                                                        OfSA advisor


                                      File CAF with the
                                      OfSA before you go        ➟          If you qualify for
                                                                            federal financial
                                                                            aid, and you are

                                                                           going on a non-UI
                                                                           program, visit the
                                      While abroad, keep                   Financial Aid Of-
                                      copies of all syllabi,              fice with your CAF
                                      course descriptions,                  and information
                                      papers, exams, etc.                   about your study
                                                                            abroad program
                                                                           before you file the

                           Midway through your first semester back
                             on campus, check with OfSA to see if
                           we‘ve received your transcript. If you took
                            classes overseas which were not pre-ap-
                           proved on your CAF, further consultation
                               about that credit may be required.

1                       Before You Go

Passports are issued by the U.S.
government to U.S. citizens (or your
own government, if you’re a citizen
of another country). Applications are      tion.
available from the local post office       cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1765.html.
or can be downloaded from the web
                                           Though some study abroad programs
                                           provide information on acquiring
passport_1738.html. Be sure to make
                                           visas, it’s often the student’s respon-
several photocopies of the inside front
                                           sibility to apply. Consulates are not
cover of your passport. Leave one with
                                           open for very many hours each day
someone at home and take the other
                                           and are often short-staffed. Consulates
copy with you (kept separate from
                                           are closed on national holidays.
your actual passport) in case your
passport is lost or stolen. You may also
want to take a notarized copy of your
                                           Residence permits
birth certificate with you as proof of     This is permission to remain in an-
ID in case your passport is stolen.        other country for an extended period.
                                           Some study abroad programs will
The Visa                                   assist participants with the paperwork
                                           necessary to obtain a residence permit,
A visa is permission from a foreign
                                           but be prepared to take care of this
government to apply for entry at the
                                           on your own at a police station or city
border, and can be obtained from
                                           government office when you reach
foreign consulates in the U.S. or in
                                           your host country.
other countries. They are issued for
specific purposes, such as work, travel,
tourism, or study. Even if you’re only
                                           Emergency processing
planning to travel for a short time,       If you’ve left things to the last minute,
some countries require a visa stamped      it’s possible to apply for an expedited
in your passport. Visit the state de-      passport. If you’re applying for a
partments website for more informa-        renewal passport and your previous

passport was issued when you were            studying abroad, it’s especially useful
16 years old or over, you may do this        when it comes to things like financial
through the mail. If you’re applying         aid disbursement or dealing with the
for a U.S. passport for the first time       student‘s financial institution while he
or if you’re applying for a renewal and      or she is out of the country. Follow-
your previous passport was issued            ing is a brief explanation of Power of
when you were under 16, you must             Attorney.
apply in person at a U.S. passport
agency. Applying for an expedited            What is Power of Attorney?
passport involves an extra fee in addi-      A Power of Attorney is a legal instru-
tion to the routine service fee of $100.     ment that is used to delegate legal
For more information, contact the            authority to another. The person who
USPS Passport Agent at the Iowa City         signs (executes) a Power of Attorney
Post Office, 400 S. Clinton St., (319)       is called the Principal. The Power
354-1560, or see    of Attorney gives legal authority to
passport/get/first/first_831.html            another person (called the Agent or
                                             Attorney-in-Fact) to make property,
It’s also possible to use the services of
                                             financial, and other legal decisions for
an agency. For a fee, the agency will
                                             the Principal.
handle your applications and help you
obtain a passport and visas quickly.         Are there different types of Power of
It all depends on proof of departure
date and is practical only for truly last-
minute cases.                                Yes. There are Nondurable, Durable,
                                             and Springing Power of Attorney.
                                              • A Nondurable Power of Attorney
                                                is used for a specific transaction,
                                                like the closing on the sale of prop-
                                                erty, or the handling of financial
                                                affairs while the Principal is travel-
                                                ing outside of the country.
                                              • A Durable Power of Attorney
                                                enables the Agent to act for the
                                                Principal even after the Principal is
                                                not mentally competent or physi-
                                                cally able to make decisions. The
                                                Durable Power of Attorney may be
                                                used immediately, and is effective
                                                until it is revoked by the Principal,
Power Of Attorney                               or until the Principal‘s death.
The right to take legal action on             • A Springing Power of Attorney
another person‘s behalf is conferred            becomes effective at a future time.
using Power of Attorney. In terms of            That is, it depends on the hap-

    penings of a specific event chosen     to transact business on the Principal‘s
    by the Principal (for example, an      behalf. And banks frequently provide
    illness or disability). A Springing    customers with their own Power of
    Power of Attorney remains in ef-       Attorney forms.
    fect until the Principal‘s death, or
    until revoked by a court.              Do I need to have my signature wit-
                                           nessed on a Power of Attorney?
How do I select an Agent for Power of
                                           Yes. Your signature on the Power
Attorney?                                  of Attorney must be witnessed by
You should choose a trusted family         a Notary Public (that is, it must be
member, a proven friend, or a profes-      notarized). Most banks and financial
sional with an outstanding reputation      institutions employ notaries. When
for honesty. Remember, signing a           having something notarized, remem-
Power of Attorney that grants broad        ber to always show a form of photo
authority to an Agent is very much like    identification (your Agent should
signing a blank check. Most students       bring one, too).
who study abroad designate one or
both of their parents as Agents. How-      Do I need a lawyer to prepare a Power
ever, know that if you appoint two or      of Attorney?
more Agents, you must decide whether       No. You are not required to hire a
they must act together in making deci-     lawyer to draft a Power of Attorney.
sions involving your affairs, or whether   However, because a Power of Attorney
each can act separately.                   is such an important legal instrument,
                                           the careful consumer may want to
Once I sign Power of Attorney, may I
                                           consult a lawyer.
make legal and financial decisions for
Yes. The Agent named in a Power of
Attorney is your representative, not
your boss. As long as you have the
legal capacity to make decisions, you
can direct your Agent to do only those
things that you want done.

How many copies of a Power of Attor-
ney should I sign?
You are required to sign (execute) only
one copy. However, it is not unusual
for a Principal to sign several original
copies. Banks and financial institu-
tions, for example, usually require an
original or a certified copy of a Power
of Attorney before allowing an Agent

Packing                                   Identify the type of luggage best suited
                                          to your needs (suitcase? backpack? car-
                                          ry-on/day pack?). Clearly identify your
                                          luggage inside (name & permanent
                                          address) and out (name & address of
                                          destination). Ask your airline whether
                                          you should lock your luggage before
                                          checking it at the airport.

                                          Check your airline‘s website for the
                                          most recent regulations on luggage
                                          weight, size, and number of pieces. In
                                          general, you’re allowed three pieces
                                          of luggage on most flights. One piece
                                          may be a carry-on and two pieces may
                                          be checked. In your carry-on, keep one
                                          change of clothes, toiletries, identifica-
Travel	Light,	Be	Prepared                 tion (passport, visas, ID card, etc.),
                                          and any medication. Pack everything
The secret to packing smart is to
                                          up; carry it around for a while by your-
take as little as possible and yet have
                                          self (up and down the stairs, around
everything you need. A good way to
                                          the house). Then unpack, eliminate the
determine what to bring is to lay out
                                          nonessentials, and try again.
what you think you will need, then
leave half of it at home. The vacant      Clothing styles differ all over the
space in your luggage will soon be        world. Research clothing styles ahead
filled with the treasures you come        of time, blend in, and above all else,
across during your travels. Don‘t load    respect the customs of your host
yourself down.                            country.
Consider both the physical and social     A few tips:
climate; dress accordingly. Take           • Adjust your clothing style to
drip-dry, no-iron clothes. Comfort           prevent being the target of
and practicality are the keys for both       pickpockets and other unwanted
clothing and shoes. Roll your clothes        attention. Trade overtly American
instead of folding them to save space.       sweatshirts, baseball caps, and
Transfer liquids from breakable              new, white tennis shoes for darker-
containers into plastic containers. Use      hued pants, sweaters, and walking
plastic bags to organize (you can later      shoes.
use the bags to separate damp items
from dry, or dirty clothes from clean).    • Know what is culturally appropri-
Don‘t overstock on toiletries; most          ate in women’s wear. Research
things are available in major cities         local customs before you arrive
abroad.                                      in your host country. To avoid
                                             harassment, female students may

    want to adopt a clothing style sim-     •   comfortable walking shoes
    ilar to that of resident women. For     •   at least one nice outfit
    example, a student in India should      •   medication along with a copy of
    not feel required to wear a sari, but       your prescription
    she may want to keep her shoul-         •   battery-operated alarm clock
    ders and backside well-covered and      •   addresses of friends and family to
    avoid showing her decolletage. For          send postcards to.
    clothing advice from real women,        •   a journal
    see               •   a towel
                                            •   an umbrella
Never take anything abroad that             •   your passport and airline tickets
you’re not willing to risk losing. Too          (in your carry on!)
often students will take a precious
memento, expensive piece of jewelry,
or electronic toy only to have it lost,
stolen, or destroyed.

Things our peer advisors wished they
had brought:
•    a more weather-appropriate jacket
•    American deodorant
•    multiple debit/credit cards
•    more dress clothes
•    a larger, sturdier backpack
Things our peer advisors wished they
had left at home:
•    the book bag (no one uses them
     in Europe)
•    too many books
•    an ineffective raincoat
•    too many toiletries
•    too many clothes
•    the alarm clock that needed to be
     plugged in
The best things our peer advisors took
with them:
•    a 500 GB external hard drive for
     all those photos
•    a journal
•    ear plugs
•    pictures of family and friends
Don’t forget any of the following:

Airport Security                           on the conveyor belt for X-ray screen-
                                           ing. X-raying separately will allow
                                           TSA security officers to more easily
                                           examine the declared items.

                                           •      Remove items found in manicure
                                                  sets, pocketknives, or any other
                                                  item that could be viewed as
                                                  “threatening.” All knives and
                                                  any other weapons of any sort are

                                           •      Make sure all suitcases and
                                                  carry-on bags have completed

                                           •      Anticipate having to open a bag
Worldwide airport security regulations            for security inspection.
have gotten stricter over the years. The
following tips should help you have        •      You MUST bring a govern-
a safer and easier experience flying.             ment issued photo identification
Please be aware that different airports,          card, such as a driver’s license
airlines, and countries have their own            or passport. You will not be al-
security measures that may differ                 lowed to check-in without official
slightly from those mentioned below.              identification.

Air travelers may now carry small          •      Put film in your carry-on lug-
amounts of liquids, gels, and aerosols            gage. Security x-ray machines for
in their carry-on bag when going                  checked luggage will ruin your
through security checkpoints, but                 film.
there are very specific guidelines for
these carry-on items. Larger contain-      •      Be prepared to unlock your
ers that are half-full or toothpaste              checked baggage or to have any
tubes rolled up are not allowed. Each             locks broken by security.
container must be three ounces or
smaller. All liquids, gels and aerosols    Check the TSA’s website http://www.
must be placed in a single, quart-size, for more tips and all the latest
zip-top, clear plastic bag. Gallon size    security policies.
bags or bags that are not zip-top such
as fold-over sandwich bags are not         Before you depart
allowed. Each traveler can use only            • Call your airline‘s toll-free number
one, quart-size, zip-top, clear plastic          or check its website to reconfirm
bag. Each traveler must remove their             whether or not your flight is still
quart-sized plastic, zip-top bag from            scheduled to depart, and if it’s
their carry-on and place it in a bin or          departing on time. Be sure to

  reconfirm on your return flight,         before going through the metal
  as well.                                 detector.
• If you have an e-ticket, bring your
  e-ticket locator/confirmation num-     Upon arrival
  ber with you to the airport. If you    • Proceed promptly through the
  were issued a paper ticket, double       terminal, beyond the security
  check that you have the ticket with      checkpoint.
  you. Also, do you need to show the
                                         • Have your luggage receipts avail-
  credit card that you paid for the
                                           able for verification when retriev-
  ticket with? Check ahead.
                                           ing luggage.
• Allow plenty of time to check in.
                                         • Visit The State Department‘s study
  The recommended minimum is
                                           abroad section: http://student-
  now 2 hours prior to departure
  for domestic flights, and 3 hours
  prior to departure for international

Checking in for the flight
• Do not leave baggage or ve-
  hicles unattended. Anything left
  unattended will be immediately
• Never accept packages from
• You are required to have a board-
  ing pass before you can pass
  through the security checkpoint.
• Have airline tickets, boarding
  passes, and government photos
  IDs available to show to security.
• Be prepared to empty all of your
  pockets and to demonstrate opera-
  tion of electronic equipment.
• Expect increased passenger and
  baggage searches.
• Make it easy to be screened. Wear
  shoes that can be taken off and put
  back on relatively easily.
• If you know that your shoes have
  metal in them, take them off

Guidebooks                                Notes	For	Packing

Some guides are targeted toward
more affluent travelers with listings
of four- star hotels and resorts, while
others may only provide information
on inexpensive lodging. Some have
better maps, others have better photos
and suggestions for sightseeing. Don’t
forget about the human element when
seeking guides; talk to people who
have been there. Sometimes the infor-
mation in guidebooks is out of date,
but locals and students will certainly
have the pulse of the city or the coun-
try. And don’t forget to explore. Get
your nose out of the guidebook and
have an adventure of your own.

Here’s a list of travel guides that
you might find helpful during your
•    Let’s Go
•    Fieldings
•    Lonely Planet
•    The Rough Guide
•    Discovery Channel Insight
•    Frommer’s
•    Footprint
•    Fodor’s
•    Rick Steve’s
•    Green Guides

Country-Specific                           or university, read their pre-departure
                                           materials thoroughly. You will also be
Information                                getting a good orientation once you’re
                                           overseas, whether on a UI program or a
                                           program offered by another school.

                                           Consult guidebooks:
                                           One or two guidebooks will probably
                                           give you more information than you
                                           know what to do with. Guidebooks
                                           in the “Lonely Planet” and “Culture
                                           Shock” series are particularly useful if
                                           you want to get beyond stuff to pack
                                           and places to see. Even if you don’t
                                           buy one, spend some time at a book
                                           store with one before leaving.

Our TIPS workshop is very general,
                                           Buy a “CultureGram” or read a book:
because each session students go to        Check out http://www.culturegrams.
about 25 different countries overseas.     com or check the UI Library or the
Here’s how you can find country-           Iowa City Public Library. Your study
specific information that will help you    abroad advisor will have some sugges-
prepare for your time abroad:              tions for you, whether you’re going to
                                           Western Europe or Southeast Asia.
Talk to returnees:
We will try to put you in touch with
                                           Find out what people overseas think:
students who have been to the place         A good source of news and infor-
you’re going. Most returnees will          mation from abroad is at Watching
be happy to answer more questions          America, http://www.watchingamerica.
later, if you have them. If there is not   com/index.shtml
a returnee at the reception from the
country where you’re going, tell your      Clothing Questions:
advisor. We’ll do our best to find         Consult a Consular Information Sheet
someone you can talk to before you get     for a description of the climate, or visit
on that plane.                             Weather Underground http://www.
                                  for a look at the
Go to your country-specific orientation:   weather where you’ll be going. See also
Study-abroad advisors try to organize for
a get-together for everyone going to       advice on what female students might
country “X” prior to departure, and        expect from the local males depending
returned students are often there for      on how they dress.
you to talk to. If you’re going on a
program through another U.S. college


2                        While You’re There

Health Issues
Preparing	to	Travel	
Good health is a prerequisite to an
enjoyable stay abroad and crucial while
                                          in order to allow you to get a tempo-
you’re traveling. You may be exposed
                                          rary residence permit. Your program
to unfamiliar climates, food, medi-
                                          provider should inform you of any
cine, and health care systems. In many
                                          required shots and inoculations prior
cases, a good measure of common
                                          to departing. To find out about specific
sense and a healthy respect for your
                                          inoculations that may be required to
own body (and its limitations) will
                                          enter your host country or countries in
help to avoid medical problems. A few
                                          which you may wish to travel, consult
preliminary precautions can spare you
                                          the travel clinic at the Student Health
a good deal of unpleasantness.
                                          Service (4189 Westlawn, 319-335-
                                          8394). You may also contact the Na-
Medical and Dental Checkups
                                          tional Centers for Disease Control and
Medical and dental checkups prior to      Prevention (CDC) information hotline
your departure are crucial. Remember:     at 1-877-394-8747 (toll-free) or see the
only your physician knows your per-       website at
sonal medical history and can advise
you if your situation warrants some       The CDC specifically recommends
alteration of the general preventive      a polio booster, as many countries
guidelines outlined here. Frequently,     are not free of endemic polio viruses.
health statements from your doctor are    Tetanus and diphtheria boosters are
required to obtain a visa to enter your   recommended for all students. Stu-
host country, if a visa is required.      dents traveling to the U.K. and Ireland
                                          are encouraged to get a meningitis
Shots and Inoculations                    vaccination. You should be immune to
Some countries require immunizations      measles, mumps and rubella through
before allowing foreigners in. Some       vaccine or physician-diagnosed cases
countries require a health screening      of these diseases. If you were born after
by a local physician after you arrive     1957, you should have received two

doses of measles vaccine in order to be   in case of an accident or illness. A
immune. A gamma globulin shot is          good medical record will mention
useful against hepatitis and can rein-    ALL drugs you are taking, includ-
force your immunity to other diseases.    ing any not related to disease, and
Smallpox is considered by the World       identify any chronic ailments, allergies
Health Organization to be wiped out,      or hypersensitivities. It will also list
but country-to-country regulations        your immunization history, blood
change frequently.                        type, eyeglass prescription, personal
                                          physician, health insurance (along
Any inoculation should be recorded        with the number of the policy) and,
with the officially approved stamp        if pertinent, your religion. Be sure to
on the yellow form International          make a photocopy of your medical
Certificate of Vaccination as Approved    records in case of loss. Carry these
by the World Health Organization.         documents in a place that is both se-
Such forms are available through the      cure and accessible by you at all times
Johnson County Health Department          while traveling.
and must be properly stamped to be
acceptable.                               Medicines
Since many inoculations require more      Prescription Medicine — If you take
than one visit to the clinic or cannot    prescription medicine or birth control,
be taken in combination with others,      you should research whether it’s avail-
it’s recommended that you begin           able in your host country and bring a
your inquiries well in advance of your    copy of the prescription for the generic
departure.                                name of the drug. In developed coun-
                                          tries, you will need to take only an ini-
What	to	Bring:                            tial supply of the medication; in most
                                          developing countries, you will want to
Medic Alert Emblem                        take a supply that will last your entire
Be sure to wear a Medic Alert emblem      stay. Make sure all medications are in
(recognized internationally) for a        your carry-on.
specific medical problem (i.e., asthma,
diabetes, epilepsy, food or drug aller-   Over-The-Counter Remedies
gies). In how many languages can you      If you regularly use any over-the-
convince a nurse that you’re allergic     counter remedies, you may want to
to a medication and not just afraid       take an initial or full-year‘s supply. For
of a needle? Call 1-888-633-4298 or       customs purposes, take all medicines
go to for       in their original containers. Syringes
information.                              – Syringes can be construed as drug
                                          paraphernalia. Bring a doctor‘s note if
Medical Records                           you must bring them. Staying Healthy
While living and traveling abroad,        Abroad Monitor your health. Don’t
it’s a wise precaution to keep personal   exhaust yourself. Moderation will
medical records with you to be used       pay off in the long run. Eat well. This

doesn’t mean overspending in ex-           If you consume alcoholic beverages
pensive restaurants, but it does mean      abroad, do so in moderation. Inebria-
eating a balanced diet. Vegetarians        tion can result in poor academic per-
may find that maintaining a vegetar-       formance, higher risk behavior, and/
ian diet abroad can be a challenge.        or regretted sexual activity. In many
It may be difficult to obtain enough       serious accidents and deaths involving
quality fruits and vegetables to stay      students overseas, excessive alcohol
health, and meal plans may or may          consumption plays a role. Don’t be-
not include vegetarian offerings. Some     come a statistic.
tips to help you through: Research the
foods offered in your host coun-
try. You may wish to bring protein
powder, vitamins, and other dietary
supplements with you to ensure good
nutrition. Talk to other vegetarians
who have studied abroad. During ori-
entation, check with the host-country
coordinator regarding resources or
suggestions to help you maintain your      Health insurance
diet. Finally, you may need to find a      information for the U of i
tactful way to deal with social situa-     Study Abroad Programs
tions in which you’re offered specially
prepared meals that include meat.          You are required to have health
Traveling will bring your body into        insurance while studying abroad on
contact with different bacteria; the       a University of Iowa program. We
change can unsettle your stomach or        encourage you to review your current
cause other health problems. Water,        health insurance plan to ensure it will
including ice cubes, milk, fresh fruit     provide adequate coverage while you’re
and unwashed, raw vegetables could         out of the country. Important ques-
upset your system until your body          tions you should ask in assessing your
adjusts to its new surroundings. Know      coverage are:
where to get treatment. Find out
                                            • Does your current insurance
where health care facilities are and
                                              provide coverage outside of the
how to access them.
                                              United States?
Take measures to reduce the risk            • If it does cover you abroad,
of exposure to sexually transmitted           how will you be reimbursed for
diseases. As always, intimate contact         expenses?
could expose you to bacteria or viruses
                                            • Does your insurance cover non-
that could lead to infection or contrac-
                                              emergencies, e.g., prescriptions,
tion of STDs, including HIV. Always
                                              doctor visits?
use protection if you’re sexually active
while abroad.                               • What does your current policy
                                              exclude from coverage? (e.g.,

     injuries received while driving an     will cover you only while outside of
     automobile, sporting injuries, etc.)   the United States.
 • What is the maximum amount of            The names of companies that provide
   coverage your insurance provides?        such coverage are listed below. The
 • Is emergency medical transporta-         University of Iowa does not endorse
   tion/evacuation covered? If so,          any specific company.
   what is the maximum payable?
 • Is repatriation of remains covered
   and if so, what is the maximum           HTH Worldwide
                                            1-888-350-2002 1-800-677-7887
You should also consider where you
will be studying and if health care will    CMI Insurance Specialists
be readily available there. Also, make
a note of any special medical needs
                                            Wallach & Co., Inc.
you have.                                   1-800-237-6615
Continuous Insurance Coverage in the
United States
                                            International SOS Assistance, Inc.
If, after assessing your current health     1-800-523-8662
insurance coverage you do decide to
purchase a supplemental insurance           Medex Assistance Corp.
plan for your overseas study, please do     1-410-453-6300
not let your regular insurance coverage
lapse while you are out of the country, ISIC
since any medical condition for which
you have already received treatment
or which might develop while abroad         Occasionally, your current insur-
could be considered a “pre-existing         ance plan provides adequate coverage
condition” when you attempt to enroll       for your study abroad program with
again in your local plan (either when       the exception of medical evacuation
you return after your study abroad          coverage and repatriation of remains
experience, or in the event that you’re     coverage. If you need to supplement
transported home because of a medical       your current insurance with those
emergency). Supplemental Insurance          coverages, consider the purchase of an
Plans If you feel you will not have         International Student Identity Card
adequate protection while studying          (ISIC) which provides a minimum
abroad after reviewing your own in-         amount of insurance for students
surance plan, we suggest you purchase       abroad.
supplemental coverage designed
specifically for international travel and   The International Student Identifica-
study. A basic plan can be expected to      tion Card application is available
cost about $40 - $50 per month and          through the Office for Study Abroad,

or on-line at <http://www.myisic.           tis A and B series. Boosters for tetanus/
com>. Its coverage is limited to the fol-   diphtheria are also commonly recom-
lowing: $300,000 Emergency Evacua-          mended. Yellow fever, rabies, and ty-
tion $25,000 Repatriation of Remains        phoid are often prescribed for students
$25,000 Accident Medical Expense            going to less developed countries.
(Includes $500 Emergency Dental
Coverage) $5,000 Accidental Death           More vaccines and even prescrip-
& Dismemberment - Air $1,000 Ac-            tion medication—particularly for
cidental Death & Dismemberment              Malaria—may be required for a safe
- All Other $500 Lost Document              and healthy student abroad experience.
Replacement (includes your ISIC card)       Students travelling to tropical coun-
$165 per day Sickness/Hospital Benefit      tries or students that will be spending
(up to 61 days) $100 Baggage Delay          time in rural areas will want to be sure
$100 Travel Delay Free - Travel Guard       they have the latest news and informa-
Assistance.                                 tion on possible forms of infection and

                                            Contact your study abroad advisor if
                                            you have other questions or concerns
                                            regarding H1N1 or other recent dis-
                                            ease outbreaks.


Vaccinations: CDC
The Center for Disease Control is an
American governmental organiza-
tion that deals with public health and
communicable diseases both in the US
and around the world. They provide
recommendations on vaccines for US
citizens travelling to other parts of the

Some destinations may not require
anything more than the routine series
of shots most students received as
children. Other countries, especially
tropical ones, may require considerably
more inoculations.

As a standard precaution, the CDC
recommends travelers have the Hepati-

Safety Guidelines                         Blend in:
                                           • Don‘t dress or behave in a way that
                                             will easily identify you as a tourist
                                             or an American.
                                           • Integrate yourself as fully as pos-
                                             sible into the university commu-
                                           • Be sensitive about who or what
                                             you photograph.
                                           • Avoid establishments and facilities
                                             associated with the United States.

                                          Avoid theft:
                                           • Keep valuable items in a safe place.
                                             Lock valuables in hostel/hotel safe
The university’s top priority while          when touring a city.
sending students abroad is to bring
                                           • Leave non-essential items, such as
everyone back safely. Unfortunately,
                                             expensive jewelry, in the U.S. If
students don’t seem as concerned.
                                             you can‘t replace it, don‘t bring it.
Studies suggest that some students
engage in riskier behavior and drink       • Don‘t keep all of your documents
more while abroad than they would at         and money in one suitcase or loca-
home. You may not understand what            tion on your person.
parts of your host city are dangerous      • Don‘t flash large amounts of
and what parts are safe. Learning            money: carry and use small bills
when you have to keep your guard up          whenever possible.
may take awhile. Use the following
tips to make your international experi-    • Be discreet in displaying your
ence a safer and richer one.                 passport—do so only when neces-
                                             sary and avoid doing so in public
Be alert:                                    places.
 • Be aware of your surroundings and       • Don‘t carry anything valuable in
   the people with whom you have             the back pocket of your backpack
   contact.                                  or pants.
 • Be wary of people who seem overly       • Avoid situations and locations
   friendly or interested in you.            popularly identified with tourists/
 • Be cautious about giving out your         Americans.
   address, phone number, or e-mail        • Get in and out of airports, train,
   address to new acquaintances.             bus, and subway stations as
 • Learn which areas should be               promptly as possible.
   avoided. Act confidently.               • Use extra caution when traveling
                                             or going out alone.

 • Never leave your bags unattended          institution coordinator.
   in an airport, bus or train station.    • When traveling, notify someone
                                             other than those traveling with
Be prepared for an emergency:                you—preferably your host contact
 • Carry phone numbers of program            or director, as well as someone at
   contacts at all times.                    home in the US—of your itiner-
 • Know how to reach a doctor, a             ary.
   hospital or clinic, and the police      • Review U.S. State Department
   in the country in which you are           Travel Advisories concerning the
   traveling.                                countries or region to which you
 • Have sufficient funds or a credit         will be traveling. Travel warnings
   card on hand for emergencies.             and announcements are available
 • Always carry enough local cur-
   rency to take a taxi home or to
   make a phone call (pay phones           • Keep informed through radio and
   in some countries do not accept           television broadcasts, by read-
   coins, and you may need to use a          ing the newspaper, and through
   phone card).                              on-line news services: http://www.
 • Know how to say, “I‘ll call the
   police”in other languages
                                           • Develop political awareness.
Be smart:
 • Consume alcohol in a responsible
   and culturally appropriate fashion.
 • Don‘t accept rides with friends or
   acquaintances who have had too
   much to drink.
 • Don‘t use illegal drugs.
 • Avoid overt acts or displays of
 • This is still real life. Consider the
   consequences of your behavior.

Stay in touch:
 • Maintain regular contact with
   home so that your family and
   others in the U.S. are assured of
   your safety.
 • Maintain regular contact with
   your program director or host

Money                                      abroad, it’s a good idea to change a
                                           small amount of US dollars into the
                                           foreign currency at the airport before
                                           you leave the US to cover immediate
                                           expenses upon your arrival. Also see if
                                           you can convert currency at your bank
                                           to take advantage of favorable condi-

                                           There are several ways to access money
                                           while abroad: ATM cards, credit cards,
                                           traveler’s checks, and exchanging cash.
                                           Don’t rely on just one of these methods
                                           to access money. You might also try
                                           opening a bank account if you’re on a
                                           long-term program.
How much money will i                      ATM/Credit Cards
need while abroad?                         In most countries it’s possible to use
Study abroad programs often provide        ATM machines to obtain local cur-
students with an estimated budget          rency. ATM networks such as Cirrus
or expense sheet that will give you a      and Plus seem to be the most widely
good idea of how much money you            available. Check with your bank to
will need while abroad. If not, find       make sure that your card can be used
out what expenses you will have that       internationally. Bank card withdrawals
aren’t included in the program fee,        are debited (in dollars using the market
such as airfare, meals, textbooks, local   exchange rate) from your US bank
transportation, and laundry. Also,         account directly, while credit card with-
consider how your lifestyle will change    drawals are charged against your card.
while you’re abroad. Will there be an      Credit cards may also assess interest
added cost of communicating with           charges. Where automatic tellers aren’t
family? Will personal items be more        yet available, you may charge advances
expensive in the country where you will    of local currency against a credit card at
be studying? Don’t forget to budget        banks displaying a Visa or MasterCard
for travel and any gifts you might buy.    symbol. American Express cardhold-
Lastly, investigate the value of the US    ers may write personal checks of up to
dollar against the foreign currency. You   $1,000 drawn on their own account in
can find exchange rate information on      the US for local currency and traveler’s
the Internet at       checks at any American Express office
                                           or agent. Visa, MasterCard, and Ameri-
or in major newspapers.
                                           can Express offer good exchange rates
To access funds abroad                     on purchases in many countries and
                                           are widely accepted in Europe, Asia,
While exchange rates are always better     and Latin America. You can generally

expect to be able to use credit cards in     You may have to pay a fee as well.
department stores, nice restaurants, and     Make sure to bring ID to pick up the
hotels. It’s suggested that you carry at     money. Call 1-800-666-3947 or access
least two different cards, reserving one to find out
for emergencies only.                        about fees and sending and receiving
                                             locations. Western Union functions
Traveler’s Checks                            in the same way as MoneyGram. Call
Checks are a safe and dependable way         1-800-325-6000 or access http://www.
to carry money. If they’re lost or stolen, to find out about
you can usually obtain a full refund.        fees and sending and receiving loca-
Keep the check receipts in a safe place,     tions.
separate from the checks themselves.
Also, record the check numbers as you        Using Foreign Currency
cash them and leave a list of check          Remember: Exchange rates change
numbers with someone at home. Take           constantly. These rates are approximate
a variety of denominations if possible,      for April 2006. For updated informa-
at least several $20 checks. You may         tion, check out http://www.oanda.
find yourself staying in one country for     com/ or
only a day or two, therefore needing
only $20 to $40 worth of currency. Re-
member, every time you change money
you lose a percentage to the bank. On           TIP: Converting Money . While
the other hand, some banks charge a             abroad, you‘ll have to learn to
flat fee per check. If you need currency,       convert currency. It‘s not too
exchange the $50s and $100s there.              difficult; you‘ll get the hang of
                                                it quickly. For example, there
To get money fast                               are approximately 11 Mexican
If you’re in dire need of money, a friend       pesos to the dollar. That means
or relative can send you cash through           that every peso equals about
wire transfer services offered by Money-        $.09. If something costs 20 pe-
Gram. There are 26,000 MoneyGram                sos, divide by 11, and you‘ll see
agents throughout the world, usually
                                                that it costs a little less than
located in grocery stores, hotels, and
convenience stores. Your friend in
                                                2 dollars. Take a calculator or
the US goes to a sending location,              converter to help out, or work
pays a fee, and gives the agent cash in         on your percentages. Always
the amount you need. The sender is              round up, just in case.
allowed a free 10 word message and,
to some locations, a free phone call to
tell you the money has been sent. The
money will be available for you to pick
up in the foreign country at a receiving
location within a short period of time.

Recording                                  Tips On Journal Writing
                                            • write in the same fashion as you
Experiences                                   would in a letter to a close friend
                                            • provide a context for the stories
                                              you relate
                                            • include specific names of things
                                              you discover in your new environ-
                                            • translate words
                                            • use adjectives and adverbs to
                                              increase the descriptive quality of
                                              the text
                                            • tell stories; quote from the people
                                              you meet
                                            • sketch in your journal (even if you
Think of a journal as a written and           suck at drawing); it really captures
visual record of your experience              the scene in your mind
abroad that you will have for years to
come. You can document your travels,       Questions To Consider Before Leaving
display souvenirs, describe a city, tell    • Why did I select the program I did?
a story about someone you met on            • What do I want to get out of this
the train, keep a vocabulary list, or         experience?
analyze a political discussion that you
                                            • How can I make friends in the host
heard that day. You can start now
-- before you leave -- and continue
journaling after your return.               • If I expect to improve my language
                                              skills, will I have to avoid other
Reasons for keeping a journal                 English speakers?
 • to record your goals and personal
                                            • Am I concerned about missing
   agenda for your sojourn abroad
                                            • friends, family? How will I stay in
 • to collect addresses and references
                                              touch with them?
 • to use as a diary to record your
                                            • How would I describe the U.S?
   travel and daily routines
                                              Americans? Myself as an Ameri-
 • to spark creative thinking through         can?
   observation, reflection and analysis
 • to assist in cultural adaptation        In The Host Country
                                            • What are my initial reactions? Are
 • to record your feelings upon re-           they different than my compan-
   entry                                      ions� reactions?
                                            • What type of experience engages

     me most? Isolates me most?
 • What interaction was the most
   confusing of the past week? The
   most stressful?
 • Who was most helpful to me this
   past week?
 • What am I doing to meet people?
 • Am I being viewed as an individ-
   ual, as an American, as a foreigner?
 • Have my goals changed?

Upon returning
 • What did I learn about the host
   culture? About myself? How can I
   apply this information?
                                                   Bring the addresses, phone and fax
 • Who will listen to my stories?                  numbers, and e-mail addresses of
   How can I get more involved in                  everyone with whom you may want to
   international activities?                       stay in contact with. Don’t forget your
 • Do I think of America any differ-               parents’ work numbers in case of an
   ently now that I have returned?                 emergency, and UI telephone and fax
                                                   numbers and e-mail including the Of-
 • What advice would I give to those               fice for Study Abroad: 319-335-0353.
 • who are leaving tomorrow for my                 Leave your contact information abroad
   host culture?                                   with your family and friends before
                                                   you leave. Provide them with the
Used with permission from Sylvie Burnet-Jones,     phone number of the program’s direc-
University of Colorado-Boulder; Barbara Kap-       tor or contact person after you arrive.
pler, University of Minnesota; and the website
of the International Centre, Queen’s University,   Phones
Kingston, Ontario .
                                                   In most foreign countries, both
For more information on journaling in
                                                   domestic and international phone
the context of living in a new culture:
                                                   calls are very expensive compared
Writing across Culture: An Introduc-               to US rates, and phone bills are not
tion to Study Abroad and the Writing               itemized. Public phones, however, are
Process. By Wagner, Magistrale, and                more prevalent abroad than in the US.
Warner.                                            In general, expect restricted access to
Charting a Hero’s Journey. L. Chisholm.
                                                   If you’re staying with a host family,
Culture from the Inside Out: Travel and            ask before calling the U.S. directly due
Meet Yourself. Cornes.                             to the cost. Make sure to get a calling
                                                   card before you go abroad and use it to

call the U.S. The ISIC can also be used    small shops and at newsstands.
as a phone card. (http://www.myISIC.
com) You can also make collect calls.      Be careful using your U.S. cell phone.
                                           Many may work abroad but you may
To receive calls from the US, make         end up paying high roam charges
sure that the people who might call        outside the U.S.
you have the correct country and city
code for your location. All internation-   Skype
al calls start with 011 and are followed   Skype is a computer application that
by a country code (e.g. 52 for Mexico,     can turn an internet connection into
34 for Spain) and then possibly a city     a telephone line. If you download
code before the actual phone number.       Skype, a free program, onto a laptop
Also, suggest to your parents that they    and own a microphone and speakers,
enroll in an international long distance   you can use that computer exactly like
plan with a long distance carrier like     a telephone. There are even webcam
AT&T. You can schedule a reasonable        capabilities. Calling from one Skype
time and day for parents or friends        account to another Skype account
to call you on a weekly or bi-weekly       anywhere else in the rest of the world
basis. Consult with your host family or    is free. Calling from Skype to a
roommates to make sure the time you        landline is possible, but does require a
chose is suitable for them, as well.       Skype account and costs money. This
                                           fee is likely to be lower than the in-
Once abroad, make sure that you
                                           ternational calling rates. Visit Skype’s
know the phone number of your pro-
                                           website for more information:
gram’s director or contact person and
memorize the local equivalent to 911
or the police and fire departments.

This handy website can also provide
basic info on country codes and dial-         TIP: Calling Home. Don‘t prom-
ing procedures: http://www.howtocal-
                                              ise to call home right away.
                                              Tell your family and friends
Cell Phones                                   that you will contact them a
                                              few days after you arrive. You
Cell phones are popular in the United
                                              might be too tired or too busy,
States and abroad, and many students
may find one essential. Family or             or the phones in your new host
friends who may not be able to call           country might not be working
your apartment or host family’s phone         at the time your plane lands.
would be able to reach you on your            Don‘t make people worry
cell phone. In most places outside the        needlessly if you don‘t call
U.S., cell phones are purchased and           when you promised.
then SIM cards, small chips that have
prepaid minutes, can be bought in

Letters                                     contracting with an Internet service
                                            provider abroad can be time-consum-
Don�t forget about letters as a means of
                                            ing and expensive. In some cases, the
communication. They’re cheaper than
                                            room you’re staying in may not have a
phone calls, can be more personal, and
                                            telephone hookup.
make great keepsakes. Postcards are
easy to write and can quickly be done       Even without Internet access, your
while absorbing your surroundings at        laptop can be an invaluable study tool,
a park or café, on a train or in a plaza.   saving you much time and frustra-
The drawback, of course, is that mail       tion by allowing you to write papers,
can be slow and unreliable. If you do       reports, and do homework at home.
decide to use the mail system in your       Once you have a document ready to
host country, never send money or           hand in, you may need to copy it to a
valuables and avoid receiving pack-         USB drive and take it to a computer
ages. International express services        lab or internet café to print it. This
can be very expensive and are not           way, you’ve gotten most of the labor
overnight.                                  out of the way already, and you didn’t
                                            have to write your paper with someone
                                            standing behind you, wondering when
E-mail is a great way to keep in            you were going to get off the computer
touch with friends and family in the        so that they could check their e-mail.
States while you’re abroad. You can
share impressions of the host culture       If you plan to take a laptop, make sure
instantly, learn the latest about goings-   that it can run on the voltage common
on at home, and minimize the re-entry       to the country where you’re studying.
shock everyone might feel when you          Almost all newer laptops have built-in
return.                                     converters in their power supplies
                                            that will allow you to switch between
Web access abroad may be more               110 V. (standard in U.S.) to 220 V.
limited than what you’re used to here.      (standard most other places in the
Even if you’re bound for Europe, you        world). If your laptop doesn’t, or if you
will need to downgrade your expecta-        need a voltage different than above,
tions. It’s a rare campus that provides     consider investing a chunk of money
24/7 wi-fi access to the web. Internet      in a good voltage converter designed
cafes are popular places to catch up on     for the place you’re going. Paying more
e-mail from the States and to surf the      for a good converter means you’ll pay
web. Prices vary. Ask local students        less in repair bills if the voltage fries
where they go for access.                   your machine. If you take a laptop, be
                                            sure to take it in your carry-on. Don’t
Be aware that at some universities,         check it, as your laptop might arrive in
your professors may ask you to turn in      several pieces.
handwritten essays, papers, and other
assignments. Taking a laptop is a great
idea for students who can afford to do
so. That said, you must realize that

Culture Shock                                 function with maximum skill and
                                              speed but where the rules have not
                                              been adequately explained.
                                           • For some people culture shock is
                                             hardly noticeable. For most of us,
                                             however, it’s something we�ll have
                                             to deal with.

                                          Culture shock has two distinctive
                                          features. First, it doesn’t result from
                                          a specific event or series of events.
                                          It comes instead from the experi-
                                          ence of encountering ways of doing,
                                          organizing, perceiving or valuing
                                          things which are different from
                                          yours and which threaten your basic,
Culture Shock is the term used to         unconscious belief that your culture�s
describe the more pronounced reac-        customs, assumptions, values and
tions to the psychological disorienta-    behaviors are right.
tion most people experience when they
move for an extended period of time       Second, it doesn’t strike suddenly or
into a culture markedly different from    have a single principal cause. It builds
their own. In a sense, culture shock is   up slowly, from a series of small events
the occupational hazard of overseas       which are difficult to identify.
living. Culture shock comes from:
 • Being cut off from the cultural        Symptoms of Culture
   cues and patterns that are famil-      Shock:
   iar—especially the subtle, indirect
   ways you normally have of express-     Not everyone will experience a severe
   ing feelings. All the nuances of       case of culture shock, nor see all the
   meaning that you understand            symptoms. Some that may occur in
   instinctively and use to make your     more severe cases include:
   life comprehensible are suddenly        • Homesickness
   taken from you.
                                           • Withdrawal
 • Living and/or working over an
   extended period of time in a situa-     • Psychosomatic illnesses
   tion that is ambiguous.                 • Boredom
 • Having your own values (here-           • Unexplainable fits of weeping
   tofore considered as absolutes)
                                           • Compulsive eating
   brought into question.
                                           • Loss of the ability to work ef-
 • Being continually put into posi-
   tions in which you’re expected to
                                           • Compulsive drinking

 • Need for excessive amounts of             unaware it’s happening. Once you
   sleep                                     begin to orient yourself and are able to
 • Irritability                              interpret some of the subtle cultural
                                             clues and cues which passed by un-
 • Hostility towards host nationals          noticed earlier, the culture seems more
 • Chauvinistic excesses                     familiar. You become more comfort-
                                             able in it and feel less isolated from it.
 • Stereotyping of host nationals            Gradually, too, your sense of humor
 • Exaggerated cleanliness                   returns and you realize the situation is
                                             not hopeless after all.

Stages of Culture Shock:                     Adaptation or Biculturalism
                                             Full recovery will result in an ability
Initial euphoria                             to function in two cultures with confi-
Most people begin their new adven-           dence. You will even find a great many
ture with great expectations and a           customs, ways of doing and saying
positive mind-set. If anything, they         things, and personal attitudes which
come with expectations that are too          you enjoy—indeed, to which you have
high and attitudes too positive toward       in some degree acculturated—and
the host country and their own               which you will definitely miss when
prospective experiences in it. At this       you pack up and return home. In fact,
point, anything new is intriguing and        you can expect to experience reverse
exciting. But, for the most part, it’s the   culture shock upon your return to the
similarities which stand out. This pe-       U.S.
riod of euphoria may last from a week
or two to a month, but the letdown is        In some cases, particularly where a
inevitable.                                  person has adjusted exceptionally well
                                             to the host country, reverse culture
Irritation and Hostility                     shock may cause greater distress than
                                             the original culture shock.
Gradually, focus turns from the simi-
larities to the differences. And these
differences, which suddenly seem to
                                             Minimizing the impact of
be everywhere, are troubling. Little,        Culture Shock
insignificant seeming problems are            • One of the best antidotes to cul-
blown way out of proportion. This is            ture shock is knowing as much as
the stage generally identified as culture       possible about where you are.
shock, and you may experience any of
                                              • By looking consciously for logical
the symptoms.
                                                reasons behind what seems dif-
Gradual Adjustment                              ficult, confusing, or threatening,
                                                you will reinforce that there are
The crisis is over and you’re on your           explanations behind what you
way to recovery. This step may come             observe in the host culture.
so gradually that, at first, you will be

 • Don�t criticize the host culture.
   Resist making jokes and comments         Notes
   that degrade the locals, and don�t
   associate with the Americans who
   do make them.
 • Identify a sympathetic host nation-
   al, and talk with that person about
   specific situations and your feel-
   ings. Talking with Americans can
   be helpful, but only to a limited
   extent. Your problem lies in your
   relationship to the host culture.
 • Have faith—in yourself, in the
   goodwill of your hosts, and in the
   positive outcome of the experience.
   Know that culture shock is to some
   degree inevitable, and that reac-
   tions are emotional and not subject
   to rational management.
Source: Survival Kit for Overseas Living.
L. Robert Kohls.

Minorities Abroad                           along a racial continuum, African
                                            American students may face more
                                            direct mistrust. According to one
                                            student, bankers were suspicious of
                                            her when she tried to exchange dol-
                                            lars for Brazilian currency. When she
                                            spoke with them in English, their
                                            attitudes would change since she was a
                                            foreigner. Finally, an African Ameri-
                                            can student in many places in Africa
                                            is not necessarily considered “black”
                                            but “Western.” These are just three ex-
                                            amples of how African Americans are
                                            treated on three different continents.

                                            Asian students may also be treated
Societal attitudes toward race and          differently depending on where they
sexual orientation change considerably      go in Asia. An Asian American UI
across cultures, and students traveling     student whose parents emigrated from
abroad inevitably bump into them.           China studied abroad in Hong Kong.
Remind yourself that this is a learning     He, too, expected it to feel like coming
experience: you’ll be learning a great      home but discovered he was about
deal about a foreign culture, and about     as Western as the African American
your own cultural identity in juxta-        student was in Africa. Without under-
position to it. The Office for Study        standing the local dialect or culture
Abroad has resources focusing on the        norms, he was as foreign as any other
experiences of people of color, and         student from the United States.
gay/lesbian/bi people traveling abroad.
                                            Caucasian students may also, for the
The following comments can serve as
                                            first time, find themselves in the mi-
a starting point for your pre-departure
                                            nority. This may lead to culture shock
                                            but is also hopefully a learning experi-
                                            ence for both the student and the host
Cultural Reactions to                       nationals. Race will almost certainly
Color                                       be an issue for everyone while abroad.
Every culture deals with racial issues
in some form. An African American
student in Spain dealt with more hon-       Gender Issues
est curiosity than hostility from locals.
                                            The roles of men and women in society
Many of the Spaniards in her host city
                                            vary greatly from culture to culture.
had never met a black person before.
                                            To learn about things like dating,
On the other side of the Atlantic in
                                            gender discrimination, women’s safety,
Brazil, where whites, blacks, and the
                                            and other such topics you should
decedents of indigenous people exist

consult guidebooks or talk to people        • Watch your drink. Keep your
who have experience in the culture,           drink in your hand and in your
but here is some basic advice for men         line of vision in case someone tries
and women.                                    to slip something into it.
                                            • Do not accept rides home from
Perception of American Women                  strangers, people you don’t trust,
American popular media from music             or anyone who’s had too much to
to movies has created the image of the        drink.
“promiscuous American”. This stereo-
                                            • Trust your instincts.
type has directly affected the lives of
many female study abroad students.          • Be respectful of those around you.
In general, it’s a good idea to behave
rather conservatively at first until you   What if I am sexually assaulted?
have a solid understanding of the dat-     The most important thing to remem-
ing norms and appropriate behavior         ber is that a sexual assault is never the
regarding intimate relationships.          victim’s fault. Sometimes after being
                                           assaulted, this is hard to remember,
Harassment                                 as you’re trying to figure out what
Incidents of harassment and sexual         happened and who to blame. If you’re
assault are generally more common in       assaulted, someone else made the
many other cities around the world.        decision to hurt you. No matter what
Women tend to receive considerably         choices you make, you cannot control
more direct attention such as sug-         other people’s choices in any other
gestive comments and direct staring.       area of life, and sexual assault is no
Such things may not be considered          different.
appropriate to do to local women,
but foreign female students may find       You will probably feel confused and
themselves treated differently. Asking     feel a lot of strong emotions like fear,
locals what to do in these situations is   anger, hatred, disgust, self-doubt or
the best advice.                           self-blame. There is nothing wrong
                                           with having strong feelings: this is a
What to Do                                 natural part of dealing with trauma.
 • Learn which areas of town to            Sometimes getting the emotions out
   avoid, and steer clear of them          by talking to a friend or family mem-
   whenever possible.                      ber, writing in a journal, or punching
                                           a pillow can help.
 • Walk with others when you’re out
   at night, and stay on busy, well-lit    Talk to your study abroad director.
   streets.                                They are there to offer you support,
 • When you go out to bars, watch          and will be able to give you resources
   how much you drink. A lot of            if you choose to pursue legal action
   cultures frown upon drunken-            and counseling or decide you need
   ness, and it also makes you more        medical attention.
   vulnerable to assault.

Do what feels right: you are the best       the “other”. For lesbian, gay, bisexual
judge of how to handle your assault. If     and transgendered (LGBT) students,
you feel like you need to be alone and      whose experience at home may always
cry, then do. Similarly, if you feel like   be one of “otherness”, the experi-
you want to go to the police (or if you     ence abroad may offer new freedoms
don’t), remember that you are the one       or additional challenges. Whatever
who makes these choices, and to do          the case, an understanding of LGBT
what you think is best.                     identity and life in your host country
                                            will be an important step in your pre-
What if a friend is assaulted?              departure preparations. Consider the
Listen to them. As mentioned above,         following:
talking can be helpful to someone
who has just been assaulted, and they       Culture and Identity:
might need nothing more than some-          Cultures vary in terms of what is
one to sit and listen to them.              considered appropriate behavior and
                                            how sexual identities are defined and
Offer suggestions, but respect their        understood. Learn as much as possible
choices. After an assault, people feel      before you leave about the culture-
very powerless because they have been       specific norms of friendship and
violated by someone else. One way of        dating, styles of behavior and general
regaining a feeling of control over their   attitudes. Behavioral signals (such as
lives is to make their own decisions        eye contact, a smile, touching) may
about what happens next. Suggest            lead us astray in a foreign culture.
that they visit with the study abroad       While LGBT people are part of the
director or someone else in charge, but     social fabric throughout the world, the
if they decide against this, don’t force    very notion of such identities as they
them or lecture them.                       are defined in North America may not
                                            exist in your host country. For more
Be there for them: your friend turned
                                            information on this topic, try reading
to you because they trust you and see
                                            Same Sex, Different Cultures: Explor-
you as someone who can help them.
                                            ing Gay and Lesbian Live by Gilbert
If they ask you for help try to do it if
you can. Call them or stop by once          Herdt.
in a while to see how they are doing,
and let them know you’re there if they      Support
need someone to talk to.                    Obtain country-specific informa-
                                            tion on the support systems (meeting
                                            places, organizations, etc.) available in
                                            your host country. Are these appropri-
LGBT Issues Abroad                          ate for you? Do you visit similar places
The experience of studying and living       in your home community?
abroad challenges many facets of
your identity. For many students, it        Legal aspects
will be the first experience of being       Familiarize yourself with the laws of

your host country. In some countries,     tion. Inform yourself of important
where sexual orientation can be a basis   safe sex practices, and access to LGBT
for persecution under the law, personal   sexual health advice.
safety considerations may require you
to hide your sexual identity.

Being Out                                 Relationships Abroad
If you’re “out” in your home coun-        Whether it’s coping with leaving your
try, reflect on what it means to leave    significant other back home, forg-
behind a support system of friends and    ing new relationships with natives
family. Being LGBT abroad has been        abroad, or attempting to retain a new
described by some as a second coming      love when you get home, dealing with
out.                                      relationships abroad can be confusing.
                                          Here’s how to better cope with the
Homestays/Housing                         dating opportunities and difficulties
                                          studying abroad can pose.
Some programs place students in
home-stay or housing situations so        Long Distance Relationships: Decisions
that they may be more immersed in
                                          and Maintenance:
the local host culture. It’s important
that all students are aware of and        Leaving your friends and family is
consider the implication of being         difficult, but leaving a partner behind
identified as LGBT in the host-culture    can make getting on the plane, or even
and how coming out might affect the       deciding to go abroad, much more so.
host-family relationship.                 Here are some things to think about
                                          regarding those you may be leaving:
Program Specific Information
                                          Don’t let a boyfriend or girlfriend stop
While the study abroad office in your     you from studying abroad. You might
home country may be inclusive of          regret it, and you may even resent your
LGBT perspectives, the in-country         partner for your decision to not go.
staff and faculty may represent another
office and culture that will present a    Beware studying abroad with your
different climate. Depending on this      significant other. Trying to establish
climate, you may need to look outside     your identity in a new culture can put
of the office for support related to      considerable stress on your relation-
sexual identity issues or LGBT com-       ship. Relationship problems can start
munity information.                       your program off on the wrong foot. If
                                          you break up, the rest of the program
Relationships/Health                      could be really uncomfortable.
Before you leave the US, we encour-
age you to learn as much as possible      A better option for studying abroad
about the culture-specific norms of       as a couple is to pick different sites in
friendship and dating for relationships   the same area. This way you both have
between people of any sexual orienta-     unique study abroad experiences, and

                                             ner are still allowed to enjoy the
                                             college experience. Go out with
                                             friends, discover your country,
                                             find new friends, and allow for
                                             personal discovery. Expect your
                                             partner to do the same.
                                          • When you do reunite make sure
                                            it’s not solely physical. Nurture
                                            emotional and intellectual aspects
                                            of the relationship as well.
                                          • Realize that when you return
                                            home the relationship will need
you both understand what it’s like to       nurturing again because you will
have studied overseas.                      both be different people and will
                                            have had different experiences.
If you do study abroad together, make       Everything will not simply go back
sure not to close yourselves off. Take      to the way you left it.
part in the culture and meet new
people together.                         Deciding whether you will stay in a
                                         relationship while abroad or separate
If you’ve decided to study abroad and    during your program is a difficult
you’re leaving your partner behind:      decision. The level of commitment,
                                         length of the relationship, level of
 • Communication is the key to
                                         trust, and mutual relationship goals
   keeping a relationship healthy.
                                         are all things to consider. Try to avoid
   Phone calls, emails, messenger,
                                         scenarios with partial break-ups. Ei-
   and snail mail are all great ways
                                         ther be officially together or officially
   to keep in touch. However, don’t
                                         not together. Grey area can cause a lot
   force communication. Try not
                                         of confusion and emotional distress.
   to talk every day; that way you’ll
                                         Try to make the best decision based on
   always have something new to talk
                                         your life goals and desires, and don’t
                                         let the comfort zone of a relationship
 • Long distance relationships are       prevent you from enjoying the incred-
   costly, so share the bills. Com-      ible experience of studying abroad.
   munication can be expensive, and
   can be a major point of contention    Starting Relationships While Abroad:
   with many couples. Make sure          Developing close relationships with
   you’re each pulling your weight,      people in your host country can be one
   and don’t use money as ammuni-        of the most fulfilling experiences of
   tion in a fight.                      studying abroad. Here are a few guide-
 • Trust is the most important aspect    lines for starting healthy relationships
   of a long distance relationship.      during your stay:
   Make sure you and your part-           • Ask locals about cultural dating

     and sexual norms when you arrive.
     Your behavior may be misinter-
                                           Environmental Issues
     preted if you’re unaware of the
     signals that you send.
 • In many countries, unmarried
   men and women don’t have close
   platonic relationships like we do in
   the states. If your only intention is
   friendship make sure it’s clear.
 • Consider every relationship care-
   fully. The allure of a “once in a
   lifetime” fairy tale relationship
   abroad may cause bad judgment.
 • It may be advantageous for gay
   and lesbian travelers to contact
   local groups through the Gay and        You will be a tourist while studying
   Lesbian Human Rights Organi-            abroad. Despite your best efforts to
   zation. These groups often have         blend into the fabric of the local cul-
   social events and are an easy way       ture, you will likely remain an outsider
   to meet people.                         during your stay in your host country.
 • Be especially wary of STDs, and
                                           This isn’t all bad. Tourism stimulates
   bring protection from home.
                                           economies, creates jobs, and builds
It’s common for people to form close       bridges between people from different
relationships with people from their       cultures. However, tourism can have a
own country. However, it’s important       negative impact on the local environ-
to remember that when the program          ment. Snorkelers have degraded coral
ends you may still have a long-distance    reefs all around the world. Exces-
situation with that person.                sive camping has had an impact on
                                           national parks.
Beware that while meeting someone
abroad can help you learn about the        As a conscientious tourist, try to leave
country’s culture, it can also prevent     as little a footprint as possible. Carry
you from interacting with locals and       out what you packed in. Take a mo-
learning about the culture. This is        ment to consider how your actions
especially true if you meet another        affect the local environment, economy,
American. Relationships can also           and host culture. Check out the Web
interfere with your studies. Although      Resources section of this guide for
new relationships require a lot of time,   links to international minded environ-
remember that the primary reasons for      mental organizations.
going abroad are to study and to learn
about a new culture.

Environmental Considerations:                Economic Considerations:
•      Learn about the environmental          • Buy locally produced products and
       impact of tourism on beaches,            services.
       mountains, wetlands, deserts, etc.     • Stay in locally owned accom-
       and seek to counter those effects.       modations, eat at locally owned
    • Use accommodations that have a            restaurants, and hire local guides.
      reputation for being sustainable.         Usually, smaller equals better. If
                                                you decide to go on a guided tour
    • Use water sparingly. Many com-
                                                through a tour agency, ask about
      munities face water shortages and
                                                their sustainability practices.
      water usage costs money.
                                              • Contribute something to the place
    • Save electricity. Turn off lights,
                                                or community you’re visiting,
      air conditioners, and heaters when
                                                beyond just the money you’re
      you’re not in the room.
                                                spending to get what you want.
    • Don’t litter, even if you notice the
                                              • Choose destinations based on their
      locals doing so. Find a trashcan.
                                                demonstrated commitment to sus-
    • Don’t buy products made from              tainable practices including their
      endangered species or valuable,           human rights record, environ-
      historical, or cultural artifacts.        mental conservation record, and
    • Don’t disturb the wildlife. Main-         commitment to peace.
      tain a proper distance at all times.
    • Don’t take home natural resources
      such as shells, plants, animal
      bones, etc.
    • If you go camping, make sure you
      have any necessary permits and
      follow local park rules.
    • Choose your recreational activities
      wisely. Low impact sports that
      don’t involve a lot of equipment or
      fossil fuels and that don’t disturb
      the environment or local commu-
      nities are preferable.
    • Use local and public transport
      whenever possible. Take a train or
      bus. Bike or walk.
    • Carbon Offsetting. If it’s within
      your budget, contribute money to
      an organization involved in carbon
      offsetting every time you fly.


3 Coming Home

Reverse Culture Shock
Reverse Culture Shock is feeling out
of place in your own country. While
everything is familiar, you feel differ-
ent. Even walking through the airport
and hearing American English can be
a surreal experience.
Returning to the United States can be      Fitting your new life into your old
a disturbing mixture of pleasure and       one can be frustrating. Since every
pain: pleasure because you’re returning    country has a unique approach to
to all you love in the States, and pain    life, it can be difficult if you’re used
at leaving all you have grown to love      to operating within cultural mode, or
in your host country. Unfortunately,       have made that approach to life a part
leaving a new home, new friends,           of you, to return to the U.S. where the
and a new culture you have grown           rules are different. It’s easy to become
accustomed to, makes returning to the      frustrated with aspects of U.S. culture
States quite a bit more complicated        that no longer make sense to you. Try
than stepping off the plane. A couple      to keep things in perspective. Bear in
things to be prepared for upon re-         mind that every country has its flaws
entry to the United States include the     and its strengths. Also be prepared to
following:                                 return to all those little trials you left
                                           behind you. You might have jour-
Re-Establishing Relationships              neyed far, far away, but they haven’t.
People you were close with when you
left, even those you kept in contact       Just as it’s possible to dramatize the
with, will be separated from you by        glory of your return home, it’s also
the experiences you have had in each       possible once you’ve returned home
other’s absence. This separation is        to over-romanticize your experience
certainly not permanent; just keep         abroad. Life is never cookie cutter
in mind that since both of you have        perfect. Home is not the impenetrable
changed, you won’t necessarily interact    haven you might remember it as at
in the same way as before.                 times, and life would still not be
                                           flawless, even if you were back in the

host country you left behind. Talk to     information about these opportunities
others who have studied abroad, keep      on our website:
in touch with those you met abroad,        •
use the emotional momentum to                study-abroad/students/returnees
continue cultural interactions, check
out on-campus groups like Friends of      Join Global Buddies, a group that
International Students and Scholars.      matches new international exchange
                                          students with returned study abroad
Getting	Involved	                         students. Contact the Exchange
Studying abroad is an experience          Student Coordinator at the Office for
you’ll never forget. It changes you       Study Abroad.
forever, making you a more self-           •
confident individual and a better            study-abroad/students/returnees/
world citizen. So, what are you going        GlobalBuddies.asp
to make of your experience overseas
when you get back to the States? Are      Get involved Organization for the Ac-
you going to make a photo album,          tive Support of International Students
put it on your shelf, and take it down    (OASIS).
from time to time to reminisce about       •
that special time in your life? Or are       oiss/resources/programs/oasis.asp
you going to use that experience, and
translate it into the new person you’ve   Join the International Classroom
become? If you want to get involved       Journey and give talks at local schools
when you get back to town, there are      and community centers about your
lots of ways to do it. Here’s a list of   experience studying abroad.
Re-work your academic focus:                 oiss/resources/community/interna-
Consider applying some of the course
work you took abroad to a new major,      Join the Friends of International Stu-
minor or certificate at the UI. You       dents (FIS) and offer your support for
may want to complete an International     students studying abroad from other
Business Certificate. Your overseas       countries in the United States.
credit might get you started. Contact
the UG Program office in the Tippee
College of Business for more details.
Help us promote study abroad:             Females who want to welcome foreign
Apply for a position as a peer adviser    women to the local community may
in the Office for Study Abroad or         join the International Women’s Club.
volunteer to be a source of information
to students considering going overseas
to the place you studied. Find more

If you live in the residence halls,
consider joining the International        Resources &
Crossroads Community in Mayflower
Residence Hall. Contact the Housing       Information
Assignment Office, 335-3009.

Most UI language departments spon-
sor a weekly conversation hour or a
weekly meal where you can keep your
newly-acquired language skills honed
and polished. Contact the respective
language departments for further
                                          Web Resources
Other organizations include:
 • Iowa City Foreign Relations
                                           • United States Department of
   Council: http://international.
   icfrc/default.asp                       • Visa requirements: http://travel.
 • Council for International Visitors
   to Iowa City (CIVIC):
                                           • Foreign consular offices in the US:
   asp                                     • Travel Document Systems visa
                                             agency: http://www.traveldocs.
 • UI Amnesty International:
                                           • US Dept. of State Travel Adviso-
Is there life after graduation?              travel/warnings_current.html

Consider applying for a Fulbright          • British travel advisory site: http://
scholarship for graduating seniors and (more compre-
get back overseas! Contact the Grants        hensive & less politically fraught)
and Development office in Interna-
tional Programs, 335-2823.
                                          Mom Would Want You To Know
                                           • Centers for Disease Control
Consider a stint in the Peace Corps,         (CDC) Traveler’s Health: http://
the toughest job you’ll ever love. 
Contact the UI campus representative       • Safety Abroad First Educational
by visiting the Office for Study Abroad      Travel Information: http://www.
or emailing  
                                          Getting There And Getting Around
                                           • STA Travel: http://www.statravel.

     com (home of the Int’l. Student     • Transitions Abroad: http://www.
     ID Card)                    
 • Travel Cuts:       • Internet cafés: http://www.cyber-                      
 • Kayak:
                                        Environmental Resources
   (compare hundreds of different
                                         • Apply for a Green Passport and
   airlines to find the best rate)
                                           commit to eco friendly travel:
 • Orbitz: 
 • Travelocity: http://www.traveloc-     • Join the University of Iowa Green (some say it’s best for         Passport group: http://greenpass-
   far-flung destinations)       
 • Expedia:         abroad.

 • Online Travel: http://www.raileu-     • Sustainable Travel International:                            http://www.sustainabletravelinter-
 • Association for Safe International
   Road Travel:    • Stay Carbon Neutral: http://www.
 • Eurail:
                                         • Check with Ethical Traveler:
 • BritRail:
 • London Underground: http://           • International Center for Respon-                    sible Tourism: http://www.icrtour-
Advice From Savvy Travelers
 • Let’s Go online: http://www.          • Tree Flights: Sponsor some trees                             to absorb your carbon emissions:
 • Lonely Planet online: http://www.                     • Association for the Advancement
                                           of Sustainability in Higher Educa-
 • Rick Steves’ Europe Through the         tion:
   Back Door: http://www.ricksteves.
   com/                                  • Environmental Defense Fund:
 • Backpacking in Europe: http://                    How Do You Work This Thing?
 • Sleep Cheap in Europe: http://        • Online Currency Converter: 
   default.asp                             classic
 • Sleep Cheap Everywhere: http://       • Online Measurements Converter:          
 • All Hostels Everywhere: http://       • Electric & Phone: http://kropla.                        com (helps you figure out which

   plug to pack)

LGBT Resources
 • The University of Iowa Gay
   Lesbian Bisexual Transgen-
   der Union: http://www.uiowa.
 • Cedar Rapids Gay and Lesbian
   Resource Center: http://www.
 • NAFSA LesBiGay Special Inter-
   est Group: http://www.indiana.
 • International Lesbian and Gay

What The Good Books Say
 • Intercultural Press: (great intros
   to countries & cultures)
 • NAFSA Publications: http://www.
   product.aspx?prodid=80 (your
   mom & dad might like to read
   Study Abroad: A Parent’s Guide)

You Are Here
 • On-line Geographic Information:
 • Google Maps:
 • Google Earth: (download at)
 • Mapquest: http://www.mapquest.
 • United States Geological Survey
   Global Aerial Imagery: http://

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