Texas Tech University

Living Abroad


Life abroad can be both markedly different and surprisingly similar to life in the United States. You should familiarize yourself with various issues that will impact your day-to-day living experience abroad.

Your daily life will be impacted by people, events, and activities beyond the classroom as you integrate yourself into another society.

To ensure a successful time abroad, you should be informed about general health and safety issues as well as concerns specific to your destination abroad.


Preparing for Life Abroad


You may discover that attitudes about race or ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic class, religion, and disability – attitudes that you might take for granted in the U.S. – can be different abroad.

In your host country, identities such as race or ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and socio-economic class may be understood and approached in ways that are unfamiliar when compared to what you’ve come to expect in the U.S. and, more specifically, in Texas.

It will not be uncommon for you to learn about different religious practices while also trying to understand where your own beliefs fit into a larger narrative. And should you require reasonable accommodations, you will have to consider what types of accommodations are available to you in order to minimize the challenges you encounter.

Overseas Study and the U.S. government suggest a range of Financial Resources to assist you with the transition to daily life abroad. Familiarize yourself with these resources before embarking on your study abroad program so that you prepare yourself for what will be much more than an academic experience.


Cultural Adjustment Abroad

Once abroad, you may notice some mixed feelings: excitement, nervousness, frustration, determination, and more. Experiencing a range of emotions is normal when we are placed in unfamiliar environments, and the degree of adjustment for each individual will vary person-to-person.

Transitioning to a new place, time zone, culture, and university is challenging. At the same time, challenges give students opportunities to develop critical adult skills such as complex ways of thinking, problem solving, and self-care. Recognizing the obvious and less overt emotions that accompany study abroad students’ cultural adjustment are paramount to your personal and academic success. It is also important for study abroad students to know when it is time to reach out for support and where to find appropriate, relevant resources.

Students who ignore the emotional, cognitive, and psychological challenges of studying abroad may have difficulty maximizing the amazing opportunities presented to them. Instead of “just dealing with it,” which is not a solution, we recommend thinking proactively about healthy ways to cope with the stress of cultural adjustment. Here are some signs of cultural adjustment of which you and your loved ones should be aware:

  • Excessive eating, drinking alcohol, and/or drug use
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Abuse of prescription medication
  • Stereotyping host or home country
  • Feelings of withdrawal or boredom
  • Missing or skipping classes
  • Difficulty or inability to work effectively
  • Not succeeding academically
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • And more

Try these wellness strategies if you feel yourself experiencing the stress of cultural adjustment:

  • Reflect on what may be causing your negative and positive emotions – a lot of study abroad students keep a journal or blog!
  • Integrate regular exercise into your routine
  • Re-evaluate where, how, and with whom you are spending your energy
  • Eat a healthy diet and abstain from alcohol (alcohol is a depressant)
  • Limit your use of or disengage from electronics
  • Create a solid support network in-country
  • Familiarize yourself with the resources available at your host university (e.g., staff, faculty, student organizations, and specialized offices)
  • Reach out to your TTU Study Abroad Advisor with questions and/or concerns

Concerns about Health & Safety

Students who experience concerns about their health and/or safety should contact their on-site program coordinator immediately for information about local support and services. Not all host institutions will have health center, disability office, or risk intervention and safety education services on campus in the way that Texas Tech has the Student Wellness Center, Student Disability Services, and the RISE office. Staff and faculty at your host institution will have the most knowledge about what resources are available – on and off campus – to which you can be connected for issues, questions, and concerns about your health, wellness, and safety. The staff for your study abroad program can also assist you in getting in touch with loved ones back home as well as your TTU Study Abroad Advisor regarding these issues or concerns.

If you are the victim of a crime such as theft or violence during your international experience, notify your on-site program coordinator immediately.

Mental Health Concerns

Students who experience mental health concerns should contact their on-site program coordinator immediately for information about local support and services. Not all host institutions will have student counseling services on campus in the way that Texas Tech has the Student Counseling Center. Staff and faculty at your host institution will have the most knowledge about what resources are available – on and off campus – to which you can be connected for issues, questions, and concerns about your mental health. The staff for your study abroad program can also assist you in getting in touch with loved ones back home as well as your TTU Study Abroad Advisor regarding these issues or concerns.

If you experience a mental health crisis during your international experience, notify your on-site program coordinator immediately.

Concerns about Alcohol & Drugs

Students who experience concerns about alcohol and/or drugs should contact their on-site program coordinator immediately for information about local support and services. Not all host institutions will have student counseling services or risk intervention and safety education services on campus in the way that Texas Tech has the Student Counseling Center and the RISE office. Staff and faculty at your host institution will have the most knowledge about what resources are available – on and off campus – to which you can be connected for issues, questions, and concerns about your substance use or abuse. The staff for your study abroad program can also assist you in getting in touch with loved ones back home as well as your TTU Study Abroad Advisor regarding these issues or concerns.

If you experience crisis related to alcohol or drugs during your international experience, notify your on-site program coordinator immediately.

Contact

Study Abroad