What's Up With Culture ?




What Is This Stuff and Why Should I Care?


This material was developed to support and enhance a studentís ability to make successful cultural adjustments both before going overseas and upon returning home from studying abroad. It was produced primarily for traditional-aged, undergraduate US-American university students. Those preparing to participate in a study abroad program will find the first seven sections useful while those who are about to, or have, returned home from an international program can refer to the final four sections. The focus is generally on the concept of culture and how it impacts oneís ability to understand and function in a new and unfamiliar environment.  It concentrates on the skills, attitudes, and behaviors which all study abroad students, regardless of their specific destination, will find useful.


What Is This Site and How Does It Work?


This material offers an opportunity to explore various aspects of intercultural communication and adjustment models that are known to impact upon all study abroad experiences. This is not a stand-alone, distance-learning course. Nor should it be a substitute for a University or program-based orientation or reentry program, if your institution has them available. When preparing to go abroad, you should take advantage of all study abroad meetings or program orientation briefings you can. Those offering country or culture-specific information and logistical support are especially valuable.

This site is self-guided and self-paced. We hope you will use it as a vehicle for self-exploration. Although you can dip into it anywhere because all the sections are self-contained, it would be smarter to start at the beginning and work through it before you go abroad. There are many self-assessment and activity exercises from which you can learn a great deal about your communication style, your cultural values, and your attitudes towards and reactions to different ways of doing things.


What Is It Intended to Do? 


If you take the material seriously and work carefully through the exercises, you should better understand that the culture you are entering has a distinctly different worldview from mainstream US-American culture. You can further realize the extent to which your behavior and preferences are based on core cultural values and assumptions. These assumptions can have a profound effect upon how you react to those you meet abroad and, just as importantly, how they might react to you. Since the ways people think and act in different countries may differ significantly from your home culture, the more you know about what culture is and how it works, the better you will be able to manage and adapt to a new cross-cultural context. This site can help you learn what is required to be effective and comfortable while living internationally. In short, it offers an opportunity to make the international study abroad experience much richer and easier, both for you and for those you meet abroad and, finally, for your family and friends when you return home.

If you are a parent/guardian/supporter/of a study abroad student, please read this.

If you are involved in study abroad program as a staff or faculty member, please read this.

See who has made this possible: Acknowledgements