Research the Host Country
Helping your student to research their host country before studying abroad can greatly reduce the severity of your student's culture shock. It is a good idea to become familiar with the culture, history, politics, and everyday life of the host country and city. General information about your student's host country and the surrounding area can be found with the State Department's Country Background Notes. The Background Notes provide information in the categories of people, government, history, political conditions, economy, foreign relations, U.S. relations, travel, and business.
Travel guidebooks can also be a great resource because they contain information about cultural practices. TTU Study Abroad encourages you to talk with your student and read about your student's host country prior to departure. Gaining more knowledge about the destination will help to answer questions and address your concerns.
We recommend working with your student to create a folder of practical resources and their personal information. This can be in hard copy but also on your student's phone. Here are some suggestions for what to include:
- Name, address, phone number, and email of the host family or residence where your student will be staying while abroad.
- Information for the TTU Study Abroad Office as well as the study abroad office in the host country, if applicable.
- The phone, fax, and email address for your student's Academic Advisor.
- An emergency contact name, phone number, address, and email.
- A copy of your student's passport, flight information, and travel itinerary.
- The address, directions, and phone number to the nearest U.S. Embassy in the host country.
- Addresses, phone numbers, and emails for the friends and family your student wishes to write from abroad.
- Landmarks and places of interest. Although store-bought travel guides may provide this condensed information, it is all available online, and the research your student will do can be very educational. Tourist-type websites usually list historical information, admissions costs, opening times, directions, and special events for places of interest.
- Historical, political, and current event information about the host country. Understanding the host culture and its past will make your student's study abroad experience more fulfilling. Information on politics and current events provides your student with conversation topics as well as an understanding of the culture.
- Information about the culture of the host country. Search for sites about cultural etiquette, national sports, music, authors, food, and pop culture.
- Special events that will occur at the time your student is abroad such as festivals, concerts, etc.
For more information about culture, we recommend checking out the University of the Pacific's, "What's Up With Culture?" website. It's a tremendous resource!