Know Before You Go

Let’s dive a bit deeper into the “Connection” section of their course and then talk more about culture shock and cultural differences.

In the Connection module of Canvas, participants will:

  1. Define and discuss their study abroad goals and  how to achieve them
  2. Get to know their fellow program participants
  3. Meet CIEE and the people that will help them make their study abroad dream a reality
  4. Think about how they want to represent themselves and their home country as an ambassador during their study abroad experience
  5. Practice discussing their study abroad plans with their home community

Parents: Ask your participant what they want to represent as an ambassador while they are abroad.

Participants:  Tell your parents about what it means to you to be an ambassador.

In the Culture module of Canvas, participants will:

  • Develop their intercultural skills (self-awareness, awareness of others, emotion management and bridging differences). One example of a cultural difference is how cultures understand time  Monochronic time (There is a clearly defined schedule that needs to be adhered to.  Deadlines must be hit to achieve it.) versus Polychronic time (It’s ok to change the schedule as long as goals are accomplished. The schedule should be flexible, and relationships are more important than deadlines.)
  • Explore the culture of their host community.

Parents: Can you identify other cultural differences?

Students:  Once you complete this section of the course, tell your parents about a cultural difference that you hadn’t considered before.

A Note about Culture Shock:

Culture shock is the feeling of disorientation when subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes.  Some of the symptoms of culture shock include anxiety, excessive sleep, anger, disinterest, boredom, depression, and withdrawal. For some participants, culture shock happens when they first arrive in their host country; for others, it occurs later as they get to know the local culture and discover differences in things like norms, beliefs, and values that might not have been obvious at first.

Parents:  It is completely normal for participants immersing themselves in another country to experience culture shock.  If you sense that your participant is experiencing any of these symptoms as they adjust to life in a new environment, please let our Support Team know (800.448.9944).  Our support staff can coach you and your participant on how to ease the adjustment to life in their host country.

If a participant is experiencing culture shock, our staff will often encourage them to manage their digital life, because we have seen that spending too much time on the phone or on social media with family and friends at home slows down cultural adjustment (and, depending on their time zone, can seriously interfere with sleep!). Set your participant up for success by scheduling a regular time to check in with them on a weekly basis, and encourage them to focus on life in their host country during the rest of the week. When you do check in, remember to ask them what they enjoy about the culture of their host country and how they are getting involved in the local community, since verbalizing the positive aspects of their experience and fully participating in local life can help address culture shock.

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