Background for Study Abroad Staff or Faculty Members


If you are a study abroad staff or faculty member who is involved in sending US-American students overseas, we congratulate you on performing an important job in difficult times with fewer resources and greater demands then ever before. We know how hard it can be to do all the tasks which are required to prepare students before they go abroad, to sustain and monitor them while abroad, and to bring them back and integrate them into campus again.

This site was created to help support your efforts by providing resources that can be used to orient your students for the study abroad experience before they go and to assist them in analyzing and utilizing their new skills when they return home. It was written for, and to, U.S. college and university students who are planning to study abroad. Initially, the materials have been designed to be self-directed, self-paced and contain a number of self-evaluation instruments and four short self-assessment questionnaires. However, we believe they would be most effective when used in conjunction with other campus resources and activities.

We encourage you to consider how your office or campus faculty might use these materials as part of whatever orientation you currently employ. It could be integrated into an existing, credit-bearing, required course or included in formal or informal orientation activities. If you send your students to one country or region, this web site could serve a culture-general supplement to the culture-specific information you already provide. If you send students to many different sites, these materials could be used in domestic orientations as a general background to intercultural communication and cross-cultural learning, while local resident directors and/or faculty or staff accompanying students on the program could supply specific cultural data after the students arrive overseas. Minimally, the materials could be assigned as required or suggested reading for students when circumstances do not allow for more than a few hours of logistical and/or cultural briefings. At the very least we would like to encourage you to recommend this website to any students who are contemplating study abroad and are curious where to start his/her intercultural learning.

The site should be able to be accessed anywhere in the world where there is an internet connection and it has been designed to work on many platforms, to load reasonably quickly, and to navigate simply. It can be used in any sequence (although starting at the beginning is always a good strategy!) and the reentry materials can still have value well after the period of actual return. We feel that using even a few sections would benefit the average student going abroad and coming home.

Like you, we believe that participating in a study abroad experience can be a life changing kind of transition. We would hope that many of you will take advantage of this free and open-access resource because we also believe that the better prepared our students are the better the outcome of their international sojourn is likely to be.

We would also be interested in knowing how you have chosen to use the site and in what ways you have been able to integrate it into your own programs and curriculum. We would appreciate any feedback you have on which resources you find particularly helpful, those for which you would suggest additions or corrections, as well as new material, exercises, links, and bibliography. Please use the feedback link to provide us with your input.

We applaud you for the role you play in internationalizing your students and your campus. The more thoroughly study abroad students comprehend the complexity and social niceties of cross-cultural exchange, and the more quickly and effectively they can adjust their behavior to being overseas, the fewer problems they, and we will have. If there is some way we can assist you in this process, please let us know.