Summer 2010 Handbook - Summer 2010 Hdbk

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                 Summer 2010

   Northwestern University
Summer Study Abroad Programs
                                           Useful Contact Information

                       Contact Name                                                 Contact Information
Northwestern University                                          Phone: 847-467-6400
Study Abroad Office                                              Email:
Krista Buda, Department Assistant                             
(Contact for general inquiries)                                  Fax: 847-467-6410
Dr. William Anthony                                              Phone: 847-491-8293
Director of the Study Abroad Office                              Email:
Alicia Stanley                                                   Phone: 847-467-6401
Associate Director of the Study Abroad Office                    Email:
(France & Italy summer programs)
Robin Leephaibul                                                 Phone: 847-491-4677
Assistant Director of the Study Abroad Office                    Email:
(Barcelona & Germany summer programs)
Devora Grynspan, Director                                        Phone: 847-467-6953
International Program Development Office (IPD)                   Email:
(Chile & China summer programs)
Rita Koryan                                                      Phone: 847-467-1152
Assistant Director, Buffett Center                               Email:
(Croatia, Istanbul, & Prague summer programs)
Nicole Patel                                                     Phone: 847-467-0844
Program Manager, Global Engagement Summer Institute              Email:
(Bolivia, India, Nicaragua, & Uganda summer programs)
Sue Kwan                                                         Phone: 847-491-7400
Assistant Director of Financial Services                         Email:
(Adviser for all billing and financial aid inquiries)
Northwestern University Police*                                  847-491-3254
HTH Worldwide Insurance                                          877-424-4325 or 610-254-8700
Chris Johnson                                                    Phone: 847-491-8518
Director of Northwestern Risk Management and Safety              Email:
(For specific questions about International SOS or the
HTH Policy)
International SOS                                                Phone numbers for 24/7 medical or security assistance:
Security and travel assistance program required for all NU       Philadelphia: +1-215-942-8226
study abroad students.                                           London: +44-20-8762-8008
                                                                 Singapore: +65-6338-7800
Counseling & Psychological Services                              Phone: 847-491-2151

 *If you have an emergency abroad and cannot reach your on-site program contacts or the
 Northwestern Study Abroad Office, please call the University Police. They will respond to your call
 and contact the appropriate people. The Northwestern Study Abroad Office is open Monday-Friday,
 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. CST.

                       Table of Contents                                                                    Welcome
                                                                                    Congratulations on your decision to study abroad!
1. Getting Ready to Go . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
                                                                                    You are about to begin what will likely be one of the
   To Do Before You Leave . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
                                                                                    most exciting challenges of your life. Careful
   Register for International SOS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
                                                                                    planning will help you have a successful and
   Purchase HTH Insurance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
                                                                                    rewarding time abroad.
   Make Money Arrangements
   and Plan a Budget . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
                                                                                    With your departure fast approaching, you have likely
   Make Plans for
                                                                                    begun to wonder what you should pack, what health
   Keeping in Touch. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
                                                                                    precautions you should take before leaving, and what
   Start Packing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7
                                                                                    it will be like living and studying in another country.
   Health & Safety Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
                                                                                    This handbook will help answer some of those
   Withdrawal & Cancellation Policies . . . . . . . . . . 10
                                                                                    questions in conjunction with materials given to you
                                                                                    by your program. Remember, these materials are not
2. While You’re Abroad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11                 a substitute for your own research about your host
   Academic Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11                 country!
   Staying Healthy and Safe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
   Sexual Harassment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12             Ultimately, no written materials or suggestions can
   Women Abroad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12              fully prepare you for what lies ahead. The best you
   Relationships . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13         can do is commit yourself to keep an open mind,
   Sexual Orientation                                                               remain flexible, be patient with yourself as you’re
   and Gender Identity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13             adjusting to your new environment, and have a sense
   Race and Ethnicity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13            of humor. There are extraordinary opportunities
   Alcohol and Drug Use . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14                available to you as a study abroad student, which will
   Legal Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14        ultimately allow you to learn more about your host
                                                                                    culture – and a lot about yourself.
3. Questions for the Educated
   Study Abroad Student . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15                  We wish you great success during your studies abroad
                                                                                    and challenge you to challenge yourself - personally,
4. Adjusting to Life in                                                             academically and culturally!
   a Foreign Culture. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
   Academics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16         Study Abroad Office Staff
   Accommodations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16              IPD Office Staff
   Cultural Adjustment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17             Buffett Center Staff
                                                                                    Center for Global Engagement Staff
5. Coming Home . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

6. Questions to Ask Your Program . . . . . . . . . . . . 21                         “Study abroad has confirmed my suspicions that the world
                                                                                    is a vast, diverse and wonderful place and that differences
                                                                                    among cultures are to be celebrated, not condemned. In
                                                                                    this way, study abroad has made me a much more
                                                                                    optimistic person.” E.R., Morocco

                                                                                    “It was such a time of growth for me. I learned so much
                                                                                    not only about my host country and the culture there, but
                                                                                    about myself as well. I became very independent and I fell
                                                                                    into a mode of operating in which I was fearless when it
                                                                                    came to seeking out the things I wanted. It was humbling
                                                                                    and empowering all at once. I felt completely uninhibited
                                                                                    and as a result I had an amazing time. Also, the people I
                                                                                    met were incredible and I plan to have them in my life
                                                                                    forever.” L.P., Australia

              Getting Ready to Go:                                 Pay your bills
       Pre-departure Planning and Checklist                       Billing for summer study abroad programs will be
                                                                  available online on CAESAR on May 10th. All fees,
What do I need to do before I go abroad?                          including tuition, program, and administrative
 Obtain or Renew Your Passport                                   charges, will be posted to this invoice online. Any
                                                                  financial aid, prior program deposits (e.g., the initial
                                                                  $1000 program deposit) or scholarship awards will
      If you do not already have a passport that will be
                                                                  also be indicated. All balances due must be paid by
      valid for at least six months after your return to
                                                                  the June 1 deadline. Failure to remit payment in full
          the U.S., you should apply for one as soon as
                                                                  may result in holds on your registration or transcript.
          possible. Under normal circumstances, a
          passport application can be processed in about          In order to receive excess funds from your aid or loans
          4-6 weeks. The cost of a passport is $100 for           while you’re abroad, you’ll need to do the following
          a first-time passport, $75 for passport renewal,        things:
          and $60 extra for expedited service.
                                                                    -       Sign up for Direct Deposit on CAESAR
  •     Applying for a Passport                                     -       Submit a Power of Attorney Form/Release of
        You can submit your application in person to                        Funds Statement to the Financial Aid Office
        the Evanston Post Office: 1101 Davis St.,
        Evanston, IL 60201                                        Billing and financial aid disbursement will follow the
        For more information on passports, please visit:          regular Northwestern University billing calendar.       Questions regarding billing or financial aid for
  •     Where to obtain Passport Photos in Evanston               summer study abroad programs should be directed to
        Wildcard Office: $10 for 2 photos,                        Sue Kwan, Assistant Director for Financial Services,
        Underground level of Norris                               at (847) 491-7400 or If
        CVS: $7.99 for a sheet of 10 photos,                      you have questions about the price of your program
        1711 Sherman Ave.                                         and what is included or not included in the overall fee,
        AAA: $8 for members, $12 for non-members,                 please contact your program office.
        1724 Sherman Ave.
        You will probably need several additional                  Make Flight Arrangements
        photos for visa applications, International ID            Students are often responsible for arranging their own
        cards, etc. Take a few extras with you when               flights to and from their programs. Confirm with your
        you go abroad.                                            program the date by which you
                                                                  are expected to arrive on-site.
  •     Special Note for Non-U.S. Citizens                        Below are some suggested travel
        If you are not a U.S. citizen, contact the                vendors.
        Northwestern International Office at (847) 491-
        5613 immediately to ensure you understand the                   •    STA Travel
        INS requirements and do not jeopardize your                          In the Norris Bookstore, or:
        residency status by participating in a program                       900 Church St.
        abroad.                                                              (847) 475-5070
 Obtain a Visa (if required)
It is your responsibility to verify the visa requirements               •    Four Corners Travel
of your host country, and if necessary, to obtain your                       1603 Orrington Ave, Suite 2070
visa. You should start this process early, as it can take                    (847) 869-3366 or (800) 221-1611
anywhere from two weeks to three months to issue.                  
Contact your program to find out if you need a visa                     •    Student Universe
and if they have suggestions for obtaining one.                    
Generally, you must give up your passport to obtain
your visa, so international travel during the months               Register with International SOS
before your departure date, especially during the                                         All Northwestern University
summer is not recommended.                                                                students are required to register
                                                                                          with International SOS, an
                                                                                          international security and
                                                                                          medical assistance program, prior
to their period of study abroad. This free service              destination. Although your family healthcare provider
provides access to an array of health, safety and other         may be able to administer routine immunizations like
vitally important travel information and email alerts.          Tetanus and Hepatitis A/B, most don’t stock
You can also store your personal health, vaccination            specialized vaccines like Typhoid. NU Travel Health
and travel information securely online so you can               Services does and generally provides vaccinations at a
access it at anytime.                                           lower cost. Contact the Travel Clinic for a list of
                                                                vaccinations and medications they offer, as well as the
Step-by-Step Guide for Registering with ISOS:
                                                                costs associated with these services.
    1. Go to
                                                                Schedule your appointment at least eight weeks prior
    2. Log on to the Members’ Website by entering
                                                                to departure, as some vaccines are administered in a
       Northwestern’s group account number
                                                                series and thus require multiple visits to the clinic.
                                                                Call (847) 491-8100 to schedule your appointment.
    3. Click “Personal Travel Record”
    4. Register by clicking on “New User? Register              NOTE: This clinic does not administer the Yellow
       Here”                                                    Fever vaccine.
    5. After registering, you’ll receive a message
       stating that your Personal Travel Locator has             Photocopy Important Documents
       been created. You can log into this record at            Make at least two copies of your passport, visa (if
       any time to add travel itineraries and update            applicable), plane ticket, credit cards, and any other
       your profile. You must enter your outbound               important documents. Leave one set with a family
       travel itinerary in order for your registration to       member or trusted friend in the U.S. and keep the
       be considered complete by Northwestern.                  other set with you, separate from the originals. You
                                                                should also write down important phone numbers
Remember to carry the ISOS wallet card with you at              (such as your bank, credit card company, etc.) and
all times when you are abroad! Questions about                  keep them in a safe place.
coverage should be directed to Chris Johnson,
Director of Risk Management, at (847) 491-8518.                 This simple step is the best thing you can do for
                                                                yourself if your wallet or passport gets lost or stolen
 Purchase HTH Health Insurance                                 while abroad!
Northwestern University requires all students to
obtain HTH health insurance coverage for the period              Make Money Arrangements and
of time they are studying and traveling abroad,                 Plan a Budget
regardless of coverage that may be required by your             The amount students spend varies greatly and depends
program or other existing coverage. For more                    on where you’re traveling and personal habits. The
information, see the Northwestern Study Abroad                  best way to prepare is to talk to returnees from your
Office website                                                  program about how much they spent abroad, consult                  country guidebooks, and review the estimate of costs
Health_Insurance.html.                                          of food, airfare, and other necessary expenses in your
                                                                host country given to you by your program. If this
You should become familiar with the details of the              hasn’t been provided, ask for it. The Northwestern
policy and how to get medical care overseas if you              Study Abroad Office website also provides some
need it. If you need medical attention abroad, you              useful information about planning a budget under the
will likely pay all costs up front and then be                  Financial Issues section.
reimbursed by submitting an HTH claim form. For
further questions or concerns about the HTH                     As you’re planning your budget, be sure to include
insurance policy, please visit the HTH website at               travel, entertainment, and other incidentals, such as or call Chris Johnson, Director             laundry, postage, toiletries, phone and Internet time,
of Risk Management, at (847) 491-8518.                          etc. Expect some of these items, especially toiletries
                                                                and goods imported from the U.S., to be more
 Make an Appointment with the                                  expensive than they are at home.
Northwestern Travel Clinic
At your appointment, the travel nurse                             Student Tip: “Limit your drinking and eating
will determine which                                              out. Save your money for travel. Also, ask for
medications/vaccines you’ll need based on                         student rates. Most importantly, be aware of
your travel itinerary and provide you with                        your spending.” K.C., Australia
health information related to your
Accessing Money While Abroad                                      can also have someone wire you money via
Whichever method you decide is best for you, it’s                 Western Union or another currency exchange.
important to have a backup in case one way fails. We
suggest bringing a small amount ($100 or so) of                Make Plans for Keeping in Touch
foreign currency in cash when you leave                       While abroad, you’ll want to be in touch
the U.S. to cover expenses like bus/taxi                      with the people back home to share your
fares, snacks, and phone calls for the                        experiences. While this is an important
first couple days.                                            aspect of your time abroad, study abroad is
                                                              a time for personal and cultural
•   ATM and Credit Cards
                                                              exploration, so keep this in mind when
    ATMs are the best way to access money abroad
                                                              thinking about how frequently you’re going
    and are increasingly available overseas. Although
                                                              to be connected back home. Past students have
    it varies by country, “Plus”, “Star”, and “Cirrus”
                                                              suggested arranging a schedule with family and
    systems seem to be the most widely used abroad.
                                                              friends to determine when they will be in touch and to
    Your bank or credit card company may charge
                                                              manage expectations.
    fees for withdrawals or use overseas and may also
    have a limit on the amount you can withdraw
                                                                Study Abroad Office Tip: Once you arrive
    daily, so be sure to consult them about this. Some
                                                                abroad, call home as soon as possible to let your
    U.S. banks have “sister banks” abroad that don’t
                                                                family know you are safe. Don’t let them worry
    charge fees for use – ask about this!
                                                                about you!
    IMPORTANT: Notify your bank and credit card
    company that you will be abroad for an extended           Cell Phones
    period of time and will be using your cards.              Depending on your location, you may find that it’s
    Verify your card and PIN number’s compatibility           fairly inexpensive to lease or purchase a cell phone
    with machines overseas – some machines don’t              abroad. Be aware that cell phones purchased abroad
    accept PIN’s over 4-digits.                               will typically not work back in the U.S., so it’s
                                                              probably best to look into renting or leasing a phone
•   Traveler’s Checks
                                                              rather than buying one, and look into temporary rather
    Although becoming less common and more
                                                              than permanent (i.e., contract) situations. Check with
    difficult (and more expensive) to cash abroad,
                                                              your program and past students for recommendations.
    traveler’s checks are safer than carrying cash, are
    valid indefinitely, and can be a good backup. If          You may also be able to bring your U.S. cell phone
    you do use traveler’s checks, they can be                 with you abroad, purchase a new SIM card for your
    purchased in either dollars or some foreign               phone, and then have the ability to use it abroad for
    currencies.                                               local rates. Check with your cell phone provider
                                                              before relying on this.
•   Cash
    Many stores, restaurants and hotels in other              Land Lines
    countries (especially in smaller towns and cities)        U.S. long distance carriers like MCI, Sprint, and
    do not take credit cards, especially for small            AT&T offer special calling plans for people going
    purchases like coffee. For that reason, you should        abroad. If you choose this method, it’s usually
    try to have a small amount of cash (local                 cheaper for people in the U.S. to call you, rather than
    currency) with you at all times.                          you calling them from abroad. Another option is to
                                                              purchase international calling cards from a local store
•   Personal Checks
                                                              abroad that can be used on local phones to call the
    It is virtually impossible to cash personal checks
    abroad, so you should not depend on them as a
    means of acquiring money.
•   Getting Money from Home
    In case you find yourself short on money (or your
    wallet was stolen and you have no means of
    getting cash), the best way to obtain money from
    the U.S. is to have a parent or guardian deposit
    money into your bank account directly (this takes
    planning so they can access your account). You

Internet                                                               and night and heating and AC in homes and
Most programs give students frequent access to                         buildings abroad is not as common as here.
computers or you may have your laptop, which is                    •   Take clothes that can be mixed and matched
certainly the cheapest way to keep in touch. Students                  instead of individual outfits.
are increasingly using Skype and other Internet phone              •   Doing laundry abroad can be more expensive,
connections to stay in touch. Visit                      time consuming, and harsher on clothes. Bring
for more information.                                                  sturdy, dark colored clothes that are easy to wash
                                                                       and dry.
You can access your Northwestern email account by
                                                                   •   Make sure you understand your host country’s
using Web Mail:
                                                                       standards for modesty and neatness in dress. In
Depending on your location, Internet access,                           many countries, students dress more formally
especially wireless, may be less available or reliable                 than in the U.S. Ask your program for
than you are used to here in the U.S. and the number                   suggestions.
of computers may be limited or not available 24 hours              •   American brands of toiletries can generally be
a day. If this is the case, you can get Internet access at             found abroad, so pack enough for a few weeks.
Internet cafés, which will require you to pay a                        If you are especially fond of a particular product,
nominal fee for access on an hourly basis.                             however, bring enough for your entire time
 Start Packing                                                    •   Consider buying electrical appliances, like
                   While it’s impossible to bring                      hairdryers, in your host country. That way they
                   everything you want with you                        are already adapted for the electrical system used
                   abroad, the key is to pack what you’ll              there. You will need an electrical converter and
                   need and, more importantly, what                    plug adapter for any electrical appliances (e.g.,
                   you can carry yourself. To begin,                   computer) you bring from home.
                   you’ll need durable luggage. Some               •   Be respectful of security procedures when you
                   returnees suggest an internal frame                 land in an international airport. It is not unusual
backpack, as it keeps your hands free. We suggest                      for customs and immigration officers to ask
purchasing these in person to make sure you get the                    detailed questions and/or open and search
right fit at places like Uncle Dan’s in Evanston or                    luggage.
REI. Others suggest using a small or medium sized
rolling suitcase with a collapsible handle and one               Essentials to Pack
carry-on bag. Check with your airline about luggage               Program information and handbooks
and weight restrictions.                                          Passport/Visa
                                                                  Drivers license (as a form of ID)
Carry On                                                          Airline tickets or E-ticket confirmation numbers
 • Important items (handbooks, prescriptions,                     Money (cash, credit/debit cards, traveler’s checks)
    passport, ID, arrival and contact information)                Prescription medication (labeled)
 • Some basics (change of underwear, toiletries,                  Northwestern University Emergency Contact Card
    toothbrush)                                                   International SOS card
 • Laptop and other valuable electronics, adapter                 HTH card and 5 claim forms
 • Remember the liquids restriction on airplanes! 3               Photocopies of important documents
    oz. or less of each liquid fit into a quart-sized             Immunization record and health records (or input
    Ziploc bag                                                      them into ISOS!)
Other Tips                                                        Arrival information (where you’ll be staying and

 • Pack as light as possible. Pack your suitcase,                   your program’s contact information)
    then remove half, then half again. Take your                 Other Items to Consider Packing
    luggage for a walk around the block and up and                Money belt or pouch
    down some stairs. If it’s too heavy, lighten your             Guidebook
    load. Don’t take more than you can carry                      Quality, all-purpose walking shoes
    comfortably!                                                  Swimsuit
 • Label all luggage inside and outside with your                 Towel
    name, email address, phone number, and                        Shower shoes
    permanent address.                                            Sunglasses
 • Consider taking clothes that can be layered, as                Washcloth
    temperatures can vary drastically between day
    Electrical adapter/plug converter                          insurance to see if your items are covered abroad.
    Battery operated alarm clock                               You especially want to consider this if you’re bringing
    Small flashlight                                           electronics (laptops, iPods, digital cameras, etc.).
    Camera, charger/extra batteries
    Sewing kit                                                  Consider Health & Safety Issues
    Ziploc bags (for liquids, wet clothes, etc.)               Helping to ensure the health and safety of
    Swiss Army knife (not in carry on!)                        Northwestern students abroad is one of the top
    Umbrella                                                   priorities of the Northwestern Study Abroad Office.
    Pictures of home (friends, family, pets)                   The best way you can prepare for a healthy and safe
    Luggage lock (for bags, lockers, etc.)                     experience is to inform yourself about basic issues
    Small gifts for local friends you make and host            before leaving the U.S. Make sure you read this
     family                                                     section carefully and spend some time browsing the
                                                                resources and websites listed below. Also, be sure to
Health and Safety Packing
                                                                read any pre-departure information you receive from
Certain necessities or brands may be difficult to obtain,
                                                                your program.
or may be significantly more expensive overseas. Thus,
consider taking the following with you:                         If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate
                                                                to contact the Study Abroad Office. Remember, your
    Feminine hygiene products
                                                                health and safety abroad largely depend on the
    Contraceptives and prescription birth control
                                                                responsible decisions you make before you leave and
    Contact lens solution
                                                                while you’re abroad.
    Syringes for allergy treatment, insulin, or other
     medical injections                                         Travel Warnings: Northwestern’s Policies
    Extra pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses (know                 The U.S. State Department regularly issues
     your prescription!)                                              travel warnings for countries it determines
    Medical kit                                                      unsafe for American citizens. Students who
    Pepto-Bismol or Imodium AD                                       wish to study in a country on the Travel
    Band-aids, Moleskin                                        Warning List are subject to Northwestern’s Travel
    Thermometer                                                Warning Policy found here:
    Sunscreen, sunburn medication                    
    Aspirin/aspirin free product
    Cough and cold medicine                                    Students who are already abroad may be required to
    A mild laxative                                            return to the U.S. if the State Department issues a
    Antifungal/anti itch agent                                 warning that applies to the country in which they are
    Bee sting kit                                              studying. The University will work with students,
    Water purification system, if necessary                    their families, and the program to decide the best
                                                                course of action at the time. For a complete list of all
                                                                current travel warnings, see
    Study Abroad Office Tip: Don’t bring
    anything of sentimental value. If you can’t                 Monitoring World Events
    bear the idea of losing something, leave it at              The Northwestern Study Abroad Office does its best
    home!                                                       to help you and your parents assess the impact of
                                                                world events on specific study abroad locations,
Insuring Your Things                                            whether they occur before you leave or while you’re
You may want to consider purchasing baggage or                  there. In the case of an emergency, we make every
travel insurance which is available through                     effort to contact all of our students as quickly as and also through banks, travel             possible and provide them with necessary information
agencies, and some credit cards. Check with your                regarding safety.
parents’ homeowners insurance or your renters                   In the event of an emergency, your first step should be
                                                                to contact your program administrators onsite. If, for
                                                                any reason, you are unable to reach your program
                                                                director or staff, call the Northwestern Study Abroad
                                                                Office at 847-467-6400 or the University Police at
                                                                847-491-3254. Be sure to keep a list of emergency
                                                                contact numbers on you at all times while abroad.

Get Medical Examinations & Report Medical                          studying abroad and discuss issues related to
Conditions                                                         cultural adjustment
We strongly recommend that you have a medical                  •   While you may see your mental health concerns
examination before you leave. An illness could                     as something in the past, this new experience may
negatively affect your experience abroad, so it’s best             bring about a return of symptoms or increased
to take care of pre-existing conditions before you go.             depression or anxiety.
It’s important to disclose any pre-existing conditions,        •   Any situation entailing a high level of stress (i.e.,
past or current treatment or medications to your                   study abroad) can cause strong emotional
program so they can help you continue treatment                    reactions and can interfere with effective
abroad. You should also enter your medical history                 functioning. It’s important to share your reactions
into ISOS. The stress of being overseas may cause                  with others and seek help immediately.
conditions you’ve been successfully treated for in the         •   Mental health services vary worldwide, so it’s
past to recur. If you have any concerns about this                 important that you do some research before you
possibility, you should consult your physician.                    go to know if, what, and where those services are
                                                                   available in your host country.
Prescription Medication
Some commonly prescribed medications used to treat             While most of the challenges you will encounter
symptoms of conditions like depression, ADD, OCD,              during your study abroad program will seem minor
etc. may be heavily restricted in other countries.             compared to the wonderful experiences you will have,
Make sure you know the laws of the country where               it is important to be realistic and honest with yourself
you’ll be studying and if needed, talk to your                 about your adjustment to your study abroad
physician about alternative medications.                       experience.

  Study Abroad Office Tip: Do not plan to have                 Disabilities
  medications or vitamins mailed to you abroad                 Students with disabilities participate in study abroad
  because they may get held up in customs.                     programs around the world – the key to a successful
                                                               experience is planning. Understand, however, that
                                                               attitudes, accessibility, and accommodation for
If you need to bring prescription medication with you
                                                               students with emotional, mental, learning, or physical
abroad, make sure you bring an adequate supply that
                                                               disabilities may vary at different program sites and
is stored in its original, labeled container. Make sure
                                                               locations. Think about how you will cope with these
the name on the prescription appears exactly as it does
                                                               differences and seek as much information as possible
on your passport. If you need to take a medication for
                                                               before you depart. Some things to consider:
the duration of your time abroad but cannot bring an
                                                                    • How will your condition be affected by
adequate supply with you, talk with your physician
about how to obtain the medication abroad. You
                                                                    • How will your host culture view your
should bring an updated prescription note with you
that is signed and dated by the prescribing physician
                                                                    • What sorts of accommodations, treatments, or
and includes the generic name of the medication.
                                                                        solutions are common in your host country, if
Mental Health                                                           any?
Although the state of your mental health is essentially
                                                               For more information about student disabilities and
a personal matter and a personal responsibility,
                                                               study abroad, see the following Web sites:
discussing your mental health needs with others will
                                                                   • Mobility International USA: Information on
ensure that you have the necessary support in place
                                                                       education and travel for people with
while abroad. Since it’s easier to prevent or respond
to difficulties if they’ve been anticipated, it’s
                                                                   • The University of Minnesota: A
important that you contact your current provider or
                                                                       comprehensive source of information for
Northwestern’s Counseling and Psychological
                                                                       students with disabilities who want to study
Services for support prior to departure, to discuss your
readiness to study abroad, and to consider the options
available for support during study abroad.                     Be sure to discuss your study abroad plans with your
                                                               Study Abroad Adviser and Margie Roe at
Some things to consider:
                                                               Northwestern’s Services for Students with
• If you are currently involved with mental health             Disabilities, (847) 491-2960, as they may be able to
   services, you should discuss the advisability of
                                                               provide you with additional information or resources.

Refund, Withdrawal, & Cancellation Policies                      location that is considered unsafe by the University or
for Northwestern University Summer Study                         for which the U.S. Department of State has issued a
Abroad Programs                                                  Travel Warning. The Study Abroad Office regularly
                                                                 reviews information provided by the U.S. Department
If a student chooses to withdraw from a Northwestern             of State and monitors other sources, such as
University Summer Study Abroad Program, s/he must                announcements from International SOS and the
inform the Study Abroad Office in writing immediately.           Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), for
                                                                 information about the countries where Northwestern
In such an event, the following policies apply:                  students are or will be studying.
 The $1,000.00 program deposit, if applicable, is not
   refundable, unless the student is not accepted to             In such an event, the following policies apply:
   participate in the program.
                                                                 If Northwestern cancels a program for safety reasons
 If an accepted student chooses to withdraw prior to a
                                                                 prior to departure or after commencement of the
   program’s commencement:
   S/he will be responsible for paying any
                                                                  The Study Abroad Office will make every effort
   unrecoverable program costs that the Northwestern
                                                                     to refund recoverable program costs to the
   Study Abroad Office or the program has incurred on
                                                                     participants. Unrecoverable program expenses
   his or her behalf. Such costs may include, but are not
                                                                     (e.g., airline deposits, excursion expenses, housing
   limited to: pre-paid meals, pre-paid room or housing
                                                                     fees or reservation deposits) cannot be refunded.
   reservation deposits, airline deposits or airline
                                                                  If Northwestern cancels a program after it has
   tickets, bus rental fees, and payments for guides.
                                                                     commenced due to safety concerns, an
   Thus, even if the student has not yet paid the full
                                                                     emergency, or a natural disaster: The Study
   program balance and does not attend the program,
                                                                     Abroad Office will make every effort to help
   s/he may be responsible for paying these
                                                                     students complete the academic work from the
   unrecoverable program costs. Therefore, it is in the
                                                                     program and, depending on the circumstances,
   student's best interest to notify the Study Abroad
                                                                     possibly earn the intended academic credit from
   Office immediately upon making a decision to
                                                                     the program. Whether or not this is possible
   withdraw in order to minimize unrecoverable
                                                                     depends largely on the particular program, the
   expenses made on the student's behalf.
                                                                     circumstances of the academic work of the
 If a student chooses to withdraw after a program's
                                                                     program, and the length of time remaining in the
   commencement for any reason, no refunds will be
                                                                     program after the official cancellation date.
   given. In addition, any student who withdraws
                                                                  If Northwestern cancels a program for reasons
   before completion of the program may not be
                                                                     other than safety, including under-enrollment: The
   eligible to receive academic credit from the program.
                                                                     Study Abroad Office will make every effort to
 If a student is required to return to the U.S. after a
                                                                     refund recoverable program costs to the
   program's commencement due to serious illness,
   death, or death within the immediate family, the
   Study Abroad Office will make every effort to                 Note:
   refund recoverable costs to the student.                       The Financial Aid Office will review program
 If a student chooses not to participate in a program              cancellations on a case-by-case basis for students
   activity (such as a field trip, excursion, cultural              who are receiving financial aid.
   event, included meals, etc.): No portion of the                Because full refunds are often not possible,
   program cost will be refunded.                                   students may wish to consider purchasing trip
 If a student is dismissed from a program due to                   cancellation insurance that can be obtained
   behavioral, academic, legal, or other related issues:            through many travel agents or insurance
   No refunds will be given.                                        companies. Policies vary on when trip
 Note: Students receiving financial aid should consult             cancellation insurance must be purchased, so
   with the Financial Aid Office for information about              students should check with travel insurance
   how withdrawing from a summer program would                      providers for more details.
   affect their federal, state, or institutional aid.             All students participating in a Northwestern
                                                                    summer program are required to obtain HTH
Program Cancellation Policy
                                                                    insurance before departure. In the event that a
Because student safety is of critical importance,
                                                                    program is cancelled, students should review the
Northwestern University reserves the right to cancel
                                                                    HTH Trip Cancellation Insurance.
any Northwestern sponsored summer program in a
              While You’re Abroad                              study abroad program evaluation to the appropriate
                                                               program office. Since you are not taking actual
What do I need to remember while I’m abroad?                   Northwestern classes abroad, your credit will appear
Academic Considerations                                        on your Northwestern transcript as general elective
                                                               credit, but your grades from the program will NOT
While you will have some amazing experiences                   appear on your Northwestern transcript and will NOT
outside of the classroom, remember the first word in           factor into your overall Northwestern GPA.
study abroad – study! The information below will
help you plan for your courses abroad and answer               Staying Healthy and Safe
questions about Northwestern requirements.                     Know Your Local Health Services
                                                               Know how to access health services, both for routine
Credit Enrollment Requirements                                 care and emergencies. If you do need to seek medical
Students on the following programs register for                treatment while abroad, make sure to request and keep
courses on CAESAR:                                             any medical records and receipts for the treatment, as
Bolivia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Nicaragua,                   you may need to submit them to HTH for
India, Turkey, & Uganda                                        reimbursement. HTH claim forms are available on the
You are required to register through Caesar for your           HTH or Office of Risk Management websites.
summer program for a minimum of two credits and no
more than four credits, depending on the program. All          Eat Well, Exercise Regularly, & Get Enough Sleep
courses must be taken for credit and a letter grade;           An important part of maintaining your health while
you may not audit courses or take them on a pass/no            abroad is eating and drinking properly – stay
pass basis. If you wish to drop/add a course, you must         hydrated! Remember that in addition to the cultural
do so before leaving the U.S. All course and program           and emotional adjustments you’ll be making, you’re
requirements must be completed before leaving the              body will be adjusting to a new climate, new time
program site.                                                  zone, new food, etc. and eating right, exercising and
                                                               getting rest will help ease that adjustment.
Upon completion of the program, your Northwestern              Staying Safe
transcript will list all courses for which you were            While it’s common for students and parents to focus
registered. Credits and the grades will be entered for         their concerns on things like terrorism or civil unrest,
each course taken once you have completed and                  it’s more likely for students to be hurt in mundane
submitted the Study Abroad Program Evaluation                  situations like traffic accidents than ones involving
Form to your program office. Since you are taking              acts of terrorism.
actual Northwestern classes abroad, your grades from
the program will appear on your Northwestern                   In a foreign culture, it is more challenging to read
transcript and will factor into your overall GPA.              situations and to assess risks to your physical safety
                                                               than it is at home meaning you can no longer rely on
Registration and Credit Transfer for programs in               your “common sense”. At a minimum, you must be
Arles, Barcelona, Bayreuth, Bonn, Chile, China,                aware that some behaviors that may be culturally and
Munich, & Padova:                                              legally acceptable and seemingly safe at home may
The Study Abroad Office will register you for a study          not be safe (or legal) in your host country. Below are
abroad placeholder course so you do not need to                some strategies you can develop for staying safe while
register yourself for any courses. All courses abroad          you’re abroad.
must be taken for credit and a letter grade; you may                         Strategies for Staying Safe
not audit courses or take them on a pass/no pass basis.
If you wish to drop/add a course, you must let the             1. Understand the cultural and political environments
your program office know before leaving the U.S.                  of the countries you’re going to.
All course and program requirements must be                        • How do locals view Americans? How should
completed before leaving the program site.                              this affect your behavior?
                                                                   • What are people’s attitudes about gender
Upon completion of the program, your Northwestern                       relations, race, sexuality, etc., and how are
transcript will list the transfer credit from the host                  they reflected in local laws?
institution (e.g., UPF, IES, Boston University, etc.).         2. Think about what you do in your daily life here and
Credit will be entered for each course taken once you             come up with strategies for how to do these things
have completed the program, provided that you have                abroad, including how to modify these activities, if
earned a C or above in each course and submitted the              necessary.
    •   Is there something, like jogging or staying at          Visit these websites for more information about sexual
        the library late that you do here?                      harassment abroad:
    •   What should you think about/research before
        doing these same things abroad or should you
                                                                • Center for Global Education SAFETI Newsletter
        perhaps not do them abroad?
3. Figure out what you can do to BLEND IN so
                                                                • Northwestern Sexual Harassment Prevention Office
   you’re not targeted as a tourist.
    • What behaviors would identify you as a                    Responding to Physical or Sexual Assault
        tourist and how can you avoid them?                     As an international traveler, you may be more visible
                                                                than you are accustomed to being and thus more likely
4. Identify your instincts and learn to pay attention to
                                                                to attract interest, either positive or negative. While
   them and trust them.
                                                                physical or sexual assault is not always preventable,
    • What types of specific situations make you
                                                                we urge you to take every possible precaution and use
        feel uncomfortable or out of the ordinary?
                                                                good judgment.
    • Are you worried about encountering any
        specific unsafe or uncomfortable situations             If you are assaulted, remember it’s not your fault, and
        abroad?                                                 you’re not alone. You should do the following if
    • When in a situation that feels dangerous,                 you’re a victim of assault:
        always trust your instincts. If something feels
        uncomfortable, don’t do it.                                 1. Go to a safe place.
                                                                    2. Don’t shower or change clothes to avoid
Additional Tips for Staying Safe                                       destroying DNA evidence.
• Carry your emergency contact card, ISOS card,                     3. Get help from a trusted person.
   and your ID with you at all times.                               4. Inform your Program Director or other on-site
• Don’t draw attention to yourself as a foreigner or                   administrator.
   American. College sweatshirts, baseball caps, and                5. Follow the guidance of the Program Director
   such could be bad choices in an area with strong                    or on-site administrator for medical,
   anti-American sentiment.                                            psychological, and legal support.
• Know how to ask for help in the local language.
• Know local emergency telephone numbers.                       In addition to informing your on-site director of any
• Don’t dangle purses or cameras from your wrist.               incident, we also encourage you to contact Laura
• Don’t carry large amounts of cash or keep all your            Stuart, Northwestern’s Coordinator for Sexual Health
   cash or important documents in one bag.                      and Violence Prevention,
• Conceal iPods and MP3 players as best as                      or (847) 491-4618.
   possible (including not using signature earbuds).            Women Abroad
• Don’t hitchhike.                                              Women have specific safety concerns,
• Don’t rent cars, motorcycles, mopeds, or scooters.            both at home and abroad. Although
• If you choose to stay out late at night, don’t walk           men are also targets of muggings and
   home alone.                                                  other crimes, women are often seen as
• Be alert in crowded places like train/bus stations            easy or fragile victims and are more often the
   and popular tourist destinations.                            targets of sexual assault. Therefore, women should
For additional safety resources, see the Health and             remain extra vigilant while abroad and do their best to
Safety Abroad section of the Northwestern Study                 prevent ending up in a possibly threatening situation.
Abroad Office website.
                                                                  Student tip: Be alert, assertive and consider
Sexual Harassment                                                 dressing more conservatively than you would at
Although what you might perceive as sexual                        home. Also, observe how local women dress and
harassment in the U.S. may be considered socially                 conduct themselves.
acceptable in another country, cross-cultural
sensitivity does not include relaxing your personal             Think about ways to deal with intercultural
boundaries. If you feel you have been a victim of               frustrations related to being a woman overseas,
sexual harassment, you should immediately inform the            including your response to people’s possible
on-site director or call the Study Abroad Office. Your          stereotypes of you as a woman from the U.S.
situation will be handled as confidentially as possible.        American women have a reputation in many countries
                                                                as being looser, more carefree, and often more relaxed
with their personal boundaries (i.e., “easy”), which               cultural gender roles within your host community in
often times is reinforced by American television                   order to make sensitive choices about how you will
shows, films, and music. For more insight on being a               behave while abroad, and to understand how your
woman abroad, visit:                                               personal views and opinions may be interpreted by                       your host culture. You may find that you can be freer
women_abroad.html.                                                 in your behavior than in the U.S., or that you need to
                                                                   hide your sexual orientation or gender identity
Relationships Abroad
                                                                   completely to avoid cultural ostracism or arrest.
The “rules” of dating vary from culture to culture.
Your behavior in some situations may be viewed                       Feel free to contact the Study Abroad Office or
differently than if you behaved the same way at home.                the Northwestern LGBT Resource Center
It is important that you consider your behavior and                  ( to discuss
inform yourself as best as possible about how dating                 any concerns.
and relationships generally function in your host
                                                                   Race and Ethnicity
Remember, HIV and other STI’s are prevalent                        Race and ethnic relations are also culturally
everywhere in the world. To protect yourself, do not               determined, which means that while you’re abroad,
have unprotected sex. We strongly recommend that                   you may be part of an ethnic minority for the first time
students pack condoms, since they are not always                   in your life. If you are visiting a country where you
widely available overseas. Overall, we encourage                   have ethnic or racial roots, you may be expected to
students to be cautious about their sexual activity                behave according to the host country norms in a way
while abroad.                                                      that other students from the U.S. of a different
                                                                   background are not. Perhaps you’ll be considered
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
                                                                   American first, and your ethnic or racial identity will
You may already identify as a heterosexual, gay, lesbian,
                                                                   be considered unimportant. In many countries, there
bisexual, or transgender student, or you may still be
                                                                   are homegrown ethnic or racial conflicts and you may
exploring these identities. In either case, you will find
                                                                   be identified with one group or another because of
that the social climate, laws, and personal interactions of
                                                                   your physical appearance. While it’s unlikely that
your host culture often differ from the U.S.
                                                                   these situations will involve any threat of physical
In preparing for your study abroad experience, it may              harm, you should prepare yourself for the situations
be important for you to research the LGBT climate of               you may encounter by researching the situation in
the country you will be visiting. Though it might                  your host country.
seem intimidating to research these kinds of issues, it
                                                                   For more information, visit the Diversity section of
will help you be better prepared to face the world you
                                                                   the Northwestern Study Abroad Office website.
will encounter. Even if you do not plan to have a
sexual relationship while away, you should be                      Stereotypes
informed about specific laws pertaining to sexual                  Stereotypes and safety are intrinsically linked. Like it
behavior and sexual/gender orientation. When doing                 or not, your reputation precedes you when you travel
your research, try to ascertain:                                   abroad. Many U.S. students have traveled before you,
    • The legality of same-sex sexual behavior                     and although not all fit the list of stereotypes below, it
    • The age of consent for same-sex sexual                       only takes a few to make an impression stick.
                                                                   Here are some of the most common stereotypes of
    • Restrictions on freedom of association and
                                                                   Americans held by people in other countries:
         expression for LGBT people
                                                                   outgoing, friendly, informal, loud, hard working,
    • Anti-discrimination laws
                                                                   extravagant, wealthy, wasteful, confident, egocentric,
    • Sodomy laws
                                                                   ignorant, disrespectful of authority, always in a hurry,
For resources on this topic, visit the LGBT Students               generous, immature, rude, promiscuous (women
and Study Abroad link on the Study Abroad Office                   especially).
                                                                   Think about these qualities and about how people may
Gender roles abroad may differ greatly from those in               have arrived at these assumptions. Consider how you
the U.S. You may choose not to behave in exactly the               may be perceived in your host country before you
same ways as traditional local women or men do;                    even open your mouth. Remember that your behavior
however, it’s important to educate yourself about                  abroad is not just representative of you, but also of the

U.S., Americans, Northwestern, your community, and               are caught with drugs and it’s your responsibility to
your family – and can have direct effects on your                know what the drug laws are in a foreign county
safety while abroad.                                             before you go. “I didn’t know it was illegal” will not
                                                                 get you out of jail. DO NOT do drugs abroad – the
Alcohol and Drug Use                                             penalties are much too dangerous!
                                                                 Legal Issues Abroad
When studying abroad, you will most likely be going
                                                                 Some young Americans go abroad thinking they are
to a location where you will be of legal drinking age
                                                                 immune to prosecution and that local authorities will
in that country. Although being far from home may
                                                                                 overlook misconduct because they are
lessen your inhibitions, you are encouraged to use
                                                                                 American citizens. The truth is that
good judgment if you choose to consume alcohol.
                                                                                 Americans are expected to obey all of
Excessive and irresponsible intoxication and behavior
                                                                                 the laws of the countries they visit, and
that interferes with the rights of others is subject to
                                                                                 those who break these laws sometimes
immediate disciplinary action, including termination
                                                                                 face severe penalties, including jail
from the program, parental notification, and return
                                                                 sentences. If you get into legal trouble, you should
home at your own expense.
                                                                 immediately contact your on-site director. You may
                                                                 also contact a Consular officer at your local U.S.
  Safety Tips: Always try to buy your own drinks;
                                                                 Embassy abroad; however, their ability to help in
  never leave your drink unattended; never go home
                                                                 some situations may be limited.
  with a stranger; always go out with a friend
  (especially if you’re a woman) and return with that            A U.S. Consular Officer can:
  friend if possible.                                               • Visit you in jail
                                                                    • Give you a list of local attorneys
In general, avoid over-indulging. Drinking heavily is               • Notify your family or friends and relay
not only a significant danger in a foreign country, it is               requests for money or other aid with your
also seen as extremely culturally inappropriate in                      authorization
many places. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of               • Intercede with the local authorities to ensure
the customs in your host country. Drinking to get                       that you are treated humanely and ensure that
drunk is rarely acceptable and binge drinking is seen                   your rights under local law are fully observed
as disrespectful and problematic in many cultures.
                                                                 U.S. embassy personnel can provide routine
Think about these issues as you choose how to
                                                                 citizenship services and emergency assistance for
represent yourself as a U.S. student abroad.
                                                                 American citizens abroad. They can also provide
Drugs                                                            assistance to Americans abroad and their families in
Despite what you may have heard about looser drug                cases of death, serious medical emergencies, and legal
laws outside of the U.S., drugs are illegal in most              difficulties.
countries around the world. In fact, drug laws are
                                                                 A U.S. Consular officer cannot:
often stricter outside U.S. borders. In several
countries, possession of a relatively small amount of
                                                                    • Get you out of jail
illegal drugs can be grounds for mandatory sentences
                                                                    • Represent you at trial or give you legal
or even the death penalty. In addition, in some
countries it can be illegal even to enter the country
                                                                    • Pay fees or fines with U.S. government funds
with drugs still in your system.
                                                                 If any incident arises that involves your Program
  Important Note: If you are purchasing                          Director or any on-site administrators and you do not
  prescription medications in quantities larger than             feel comfortable broaching an issue with them
  that considered necessary for personal use, you                (including, but not limited to, discrimination or sexual
  could be arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking.            harassment), please know that you can contact staff
                                                                 members at the NU Study Abroad Office coordinating
Once you have ventured beyond U.S. borders, U.S.                 your program. Contact information is provided on the
laws or constitutional rights no longer protect you.             inside cover of this handbook.
There is very little anyone can do to help you if you

                                       Questions for the Educated
                                        Study Abroad Student
One of the best safety precautions you can take is to educate yourself about the culture and history of your
host country. This will not only help you have a more enjoyable experience abroad, but it may also prevent
you from unknowingly putting yourself in uncomfortable or dangerous situations.
Try to answer the following questions and find out how prepared you are! If you don’t know the answers,
you may find them in a country guidebook, which has sections about the history, culture, and politics of
each country, on a website about your country, or in the country-specific materials given to you by your
   •   How many people who are prominent in the affairs (politics, athletics, religion, the arts, etc.) of
       your host country can you name? _____________________________________________________
   •   Are there other languages spoken besides the dominant language? What are the social and political
       implications of language usage? ______________________________________________________
   •   What is the predominant religion? ____________________________________________________
   •   What is the attitude toward the LGBT community? _______________________________________
   •   Is the price asked for merchandise fixed or are customers expected to bargain? _________________
   •   How do people organize their daily activities? What is the normal meal schedule? Is there a
       daytime rest period? What is the customary time for visiting friends? ________________________
   •   What foods are most popular and how are they prepared? __________________________________
   •   What things are taboo in this society? _________________________________________________
   •   On what occasions would you present gifts to local people? What kinds of gifts would you
       exchange? _______________________________________________________________________
   •   How do people greet one another? Shake hands? Embrace or kiss? How do they leave one another?
   •   What are the important holidays? How are they observed? ________________________________
   •   How will your financial position and living conditions compare with those of the majority of the
       locals? __________________________________________________________________________
   •   What kind of local transportation is available? Do all classes of people use it? _________________
   •   If you are planning to live with a local family, learn a little about everyday family life. Ask
       returnees questions such as…Is it appropriate to shower every day, and for how long? Will I appear
       rude if I study in my room?

     Adjusting to Life in a Foreign Culture                         comparable to graduate students in the U.S., with the
          How to take the “shock” out                               premium placed on the student’s independent
                of culture shock!                                   academic work rather than on the student’s
                                                                    performance for graded work.
Just like any other time of major transition in your life
(e.g., starting college), studying abroad will likely take          The lack of graded work throughout the term creates
some getting used to. As with the other aspects of                  the possibility that students slide by, applying little
study abroad listed above, the best way to make this                energy to their courses, and emerge with passing
transition a little easier is to be prepared for it. In this        grades, but few lasting academic gains. But if
section you will find information that should help                  students ambitiously pursue their studies, they will
prepare you for what you might experience while                     likely find great stimulation in the community of
adjusting to your new “home.”                                       learners and professors; in such cases, studying abroad
                                                                    offers great academic, as well as cultural and personal
Academics                                                           opportunities.
While many students abroad take courses taught
specifically for members of their study abroad                      The Role of Universities
        program, many also take courses at a local                  The independent and ambitious research expected of
        university, learning (and being evaluated)                  undergraduate students in many foreign countries
         alongside students from the host country and               corresponds to the different cultural role that
          from around the world. Since course                       universities play in these countries. Whereas a college
           structure, professor expectations, and student           degree in the U.S. gives a graduate a large economic
            support will likely be different no matter              advantage upon entering the work force, in many
            where you study, it’s important to                      other countries universities serve a purely academic
understand the higher education system in which you                 function. Studying at a university often costs much
will be studying. While we can’t give you a complete                less than in the U.S. or is completely free, but students
explanation of each system, we have pointed out some                do not graduate with the assurance of a higher-paying
general differences below.                                          job than others without a university education. The
                                                                    goal is therefore purely academic: students study
Course Structure                                                    because they value the knowledge they will gain, not
In general, university courses outside the United                   because their degree will assure them a better job.
States consist of large lectures, with less student-
professor contact than in American colleges. There is               Accommodations
less guided work, with fewer assignments and fewer                  No matter where you’ll be living during your time
assessments that contribute to the final grade.                     abroad (with a host family, in an apartment, in a
                                                                    dorm) there will be some adjustments you’ll need to
Academic Support                                                    make to your regular living habits.
Support services for students are often less extensive
outside of the United States. Advising can be hard to               Apartments/Dorms
come by unless offered by the study abroad program,                 If you will be living in a dorm or apartment during
and professors often have limited office hours.                     your time abroad, you will most likely be living with
However, if students have questions, it is generally                other students. Keep in mind that the living space
worth their while to seek out the professors, especially            may be smaller than what you’re used to in the U.S.
if studying in a non-English speaking country.                      Talk with your roommates things like sleeping times
Despite the hesitation one might feel speaking to a                 and showering schedules. Find out about their likes
foreign professor in a foreign language, students often             and dislikes – work on developing relationships with
find professors helpful and understanding of their                  your roommates, because they may well be the people
needs as non-native speakers.                                       with whom you will build great friendships.

Work Habits                                                         Host Family
A great deal of independence is expected from                       If you live with a family, you will have a great
students in other university systems. One large exam                opportunity to expand your cultural experience
or paper might determine nearly the entire grade for a              beyond the world of the program. However, living
class; what comes before the exam is up to the                      with a family also poses some special challenges.
student! The expectation is that the student will                   Remember that this family is being generous by
aggressively and independently research the topics                  taking you into their home, and thus, you should
outside of class. This reflects the different role of               behave with integrity, respect, and sensitivity.
college students: in many countries they are
In most cultures, host families will appreciate it if           that leave you longing for home and leaves your
you:                                                            family and friends feeling helpless. Aside from the
                                                                basic preparation, it is valuable to take some time to
•   Bring a small gift. Some good ideas include:
                                                                investigate what you are likely to encounter, so that
    - Northwestern T-shirts, sweatshirts, etc.                  you can better understand and enhance your
    - Chicago (or your hometown) paraphernalia                  experience abroad.
    - Cookbooks/American recipes
    - Specialties from your home state                          The following sections can be used as general
    - Calendars with pictures of the U.S or your                guidelines regarding cultural adjustment. While there
        home city                                               are common themes in intercultural adjustment, keep
                                                                in mind that individuals may experience these phases
    - CDs of American music (e.g., jazz, bluegrass)
                                                                differently depending on such variables as the
•   Offer to help with household tasks                          individual personality, prior experience, and program
•   Ask before using the telephone. In many                     length.
    countries, even local calls are charged on a                Pre-Departure
    metered basis, and phone service is often quite
    expensive. Families may prefer or require you to            A Sense of Purpose
    make and receive calls from an outside phone.               It is important for you to identify goals and objectives
                                                                in order to plan for your experience and mitigate some
•   Don’t snack from the family refrigerator without
                                                                of your anxiety or apprehension.
•   Be careful with water and electricity use –                 Here are some questions that may help you clarify
    electricity in many other countries is extremely            what you hope to accomplish while you’re abroad:
    expensive.                                                      1. Who am I? (awareness of personal beliefs and
•   Ask at the beginning of your stay about the family                 attitudes.)
    schedule and house rules, and be prepared to                    2. Where do I come from? (awareness of US
    follow them. Remember, you’re a guest in their                     cultural beliefs and customs)
    home.                                                           3. Where am I going? (awareness of foreign
                                                                       culture customs, behaviors and values)
•   If meals are included in your home stay, don’t
                                                                    4. Why am I going? (to practice a foreign
    skip them without letting your host family know
                                                                       language, interest in foreign countries, etc.)
    well in advance. If you have dietary restrictions,
                                                                    5. What am I willing to consider? (How open
    ask your program staff about how to most
                                                                       will I be to different ways of doing things?
    appropriately approach this issue with your
                                                                       Will I “try on” some of the behaviors and
                                                                       values of the local people?)
If you are experiencing problems with your family,
you should approach your program director or
coordinator. Before you ask to be relocated, however,           Cultural Differences – What Are They?
be sure that your reasons for moving are more serious           We are surrounded by elements in our own culture
than small inconveniences, and are not things that may          that influence who we are and how we relate to the
be culturally based and likely to be the same from              world. Because we have grown up with this culture,
family to family (e.g., attitudes towards phone use or          we are comfortable in it. Our values and attitudes
curfews).                                                       have been shaped by our experiences in our native
                                                                culture. What happens when we suddenly lose cues
Cultural Adjustment
                                                                and symbols that orient us to situations of daily life?
(adapted with permission from the University of
                                                                What happens when facial expressions, gestures, and
Minnesota Know Before You Go handbook)
                                                                words are no longer familiar? The psychological
                                   Going abroad can be          discomfort one feels in a foreign situation is
                                   one of the most              commonly known as culture shock.
                                   exhilarating learning
                                                                Reactions to Cultural Differences or Culture Shock
                                   experiences in a
                                                                Most students will experience some form of culture
                                   person’s life; it can
                                                                shock. Some might experience it after only two days
                                   also include a series
                                                                in the host country, others not until three or more
                                   of bewildering and
                                                                months into their stay, and others may never
                                   frustrating incidents
     experience it. In addition, the indicators of culture
     shock vary from individual to individual. The
     following are the most commonly identified phases of
     culture shock:
     •   Initial Fascination – Upon arrival, you may
         experience a state of euphoria where surroundings
         seem glamorous and exotic, and you may feel that
         you are the focus of attention and activity.
     •   Initial Culture Shock – The initial fascination and
         novelty of the new culture often fades as you
         settle in, and you may enter a decline.
     •   Surface Adjustment – After this initial “down,”
         which may last a few days to a few weeks,
         adjustment takes place and you settle into your
         new surroundings. Your language skills begin to
         improve, and it is easier to communicate basic
         ideas and feelings without fatigue.
     •   Feelings of Isolation – At some point the novelty
         wears off completely and the difficulties remain.
         Frustration increases, and a new pervasive sense
         of isolation can set in. Many times this period is
         accompanied by boredom and a lack of
         motivation as you feel little stimulus to overcome
         deeper and more troublesome difficulties.
         Unresolved personal issues often resurface during
         this stage.
     •   Integration/Acceptance – When you are finally at
         ease with personal and/or academic interests, as
         well as language and friends, it is easier to
         examine more carefully the new society in which
         you are living. Deeper differences between you
         and locals become understandable, and you find
         ways of dealing with them. You may experience
         a lack of true friendships but nonetheless
         appreciate all that the host culture has to offer. As
         you become more integrated into the
         surroundings, you come to accept both the
         situation and yourself in it, allowing you to relax
         and feel more at home.
     •   Return Anxiety – Once you are well settled in, the
         thought of leaving new friends and the community
         raises anxieties similar to those felt before
         departure. You begin to sense how much internal
         change has occurred because of the experience,
         and apprehension may grow at the thought of
         returning home to people who may not understand
         these new feelings and insights. You may even
         feel guilty for wanting to stay, knowing that there
         are people waiting anxiously at home.

Culture shock may manifest itself in one or many of                                Coming Home
the following forms:                                                     Prepare for your return in advance!
  • Changes in sleeping habits                                   Although your return to campus seems
  • Disorientation about how to work and relate to               far away, there are steps you need to
      others                                                     take before, during, and after studying
  • Language difficulties and mental fatigue from                abroad that will help make your
      speaking and listening to a foreign language               transition back to Northwestern
  •   Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness                     smoother.
  •   Loneliness
  •   Inexplicable crying                                        Re-entry (a.k.a. Reverse Culture Shock)
  •   Placing blame for difficulties on the program or           As you prepare for your return, you may think your
      host culture                                               experience is about to end. However, another phase
  •   Homesickness, feeling depressed                            of the experience called re-entry is about to begin.
  •   Getting angry easily                                       Re-entry is the process of readjustment to the home
  •   Decline in inventiveness, spontaneity, or                  culture and, in some cases, can be more difficult than
      flexibility                                                the adjustment to life in a foreign country. When you
  •   Stereotyping of host country/culture                       travel abroad, you are prepared for life in general to be
  •   Increase in physical ailments or pain                      considerably different. When you return home to
  •   Compulsive eating or lack of appetite                      what was once familiar to you, you see it in a new
  •   Unable to work effectively                                 light because you have changed, and this is often not
  •   Boredom                                                    expected.

While adjusting to life in a foreign culture is exciting,        The following information is organized by topics that
it can often be stressful to have to deal with                   returning students have identified as sources of
differences in daily life on such a regular basis. Stress        difficulty in their re-entry process.
is often triggered when our expectations go awry, like           Self
when you have difficulty understanding the language              Personal growth, new insights into your own culture,
or your host family keeps serving you food that you              deep connections with people overseas, a new
absolutely hate. Try to remember that stress is a                understanding of the issues facing our changing
common response to spending an extended period of                world, and new language skills are just a few of the
time abroad. Furthermore, experiencing stress is                 changes noted by returning students. You have
generally a good sign because it means that you’re               become accustomed to a high level of activity or
really immersing yourself in a different culture rather          stimulation that your home and campus may not be
than moving in an American “bubble.” We’ve all                   able to match at first glance. As a result, you may feel
heard the familiar phrase, “No pain, no gain.” It                restless or depressed after you return.
applies to learning about a new culture, too!
                                                                 In some cases, the academic experience overseas can
                                                                 provide a new perspective on your academic or career
                                                                 goals. As a result, you may question or change your
                                                                 own long-term goals.
                                                                 You can help yourself adjust by thinking through the
                                                                 many ways in which you have changed as a result of
                                                                 the overseas experience and to write these impressions
                                                                 in a personal journal. You can find ways to
                                                                 incorporate your new interests and cross-cultural skills
                                                                 into your life through involvement with international
                                                                 groups, tutoring, or services in the community or on
                                                                 campus. It is also helpful to share what you have
                                                                 experienced with others who have studied or worked
                                                                 Family & Friends
                                                                 You will have returned from an unusual social
                                                                 experience. You will have adapted to a different way
                                                                 of life and may find it difficult to fit back into the
former expected roles. Sometimes you may want                                      In Closing
everyone to share in your newfound knowledge and to
adapt to new ways as you have. You may also find                  Have a safe, fun, and enjoyable experience
little in common with old friends or find it difficult to         abroad. We encourage you to share your
communicate effectively, because friends and family               experience candidly with your friends, family, the
have not shared your overseas experience. The people              Study Abroad Office, and future prospective
who knew you before study abroad may also be                      students when you return, and to participate in the
unprepared for the changes in your values and                     returnee events we offer.
                                                                  Please do not hesitate to contact the Study Abroad
  “I think that some people feel intimidated because              Office if you have further questions or concerns.
  they don’t understand the experiences I’ve had.                 Congratulations on your decision to
  They don’t know where I’m coming from and can’t                 internationalize your life, and good luck!
  grasp how it would be to live somewhere else.”
                                                                  Best wishes,
As you share your stories and photographs, adjust at
your own pace, and discuss your feelings. In time,                          The Northwestern University
you will readjust to your home environment.                                   Study Abroad Office Staff
                                                                                   IPD Office Staff
                                                                                 Buffett Center Staff
People generally take their country and its culture for
                                                                         Center for Global Engagement Staff
granted until they go abroad. Then differences in
beliefs, customs, resources, and values become
apparent. Out of necessity, you adjust. When you
return home, your new awareness may give you
critical insights. You may unconsciously accept again
the conveniences you missed while abroad, and, at the
same time, you may be sharply critical of practices
that you once took for granted. Your home culture,
from social conditions to mass media, may no longer
be entirely to your liking. You may have the sense
that you no longer fit it. Political changes, economic
developments, and even fads in fashion and music that
you may have missed make you feel like a stranger in
your home country. You may even feel awkward
speaking English again if you developed other
language skills overseas.

  “I was so much more critical of things that are
  considered ‘normal’ in the US once I had
  adapted to another culture that did things
  differently. When I was overseas, I ate
  differently, I looked at time differently, I
  socialized and studied differently. Once I
  arrived in America, I felt as though I really
  didn’t have a ‘home culture’ anymore.”
                                                                 “My year abroad was a great adventure. It
                                                                 became a 24-hour-a-day obsession to take
Do talk about your experience and your feelings upon
                                                                 advantage of where I was, the time I had, and the
re-entry. Your attitudes and behavior will adjust as
                                                                 people with whom I lived. I had never been so
you integrate the overseas experience into your life at
                                                                 continuously stimulated intellectually and
                                                                 personally. It was a letdown to return home.”

                               Questions to Ask Your Program

•   What are the visa requirements? Does the program assist in the application process?
•   What do students do in their free time?
•   Does the on-site staff let us know about events around the city?
•   Are there university clubs, organizations, or social groups that I can join?
•   Are there specific health/safety considerations I need to know about? Required immunizations?
•   What are the average class sizes? Teaching styles?
•   Will I (realistically) interact with local students?
•   Can I contact past participants about their experience?
•   What is included in tuition? Does the program offer a stipend for cultural activities?
•   What is the housing like? What is the food situation?
•   What should I bring my host family?
•   Are there specific cultural activities that you think are not to be missed?
•   What is the culture surrounding alcohol use?
•   I’m a vegetarian/lesbian/catholic/heritage student/soccer fan/music student/beginning Spanish-
    French-Japanese-German language learner…is there anything special I should consider?
•   How much money should I expect to spend? What’s a realistic budget?


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