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Americans_abroadWhether or not your study abroad experience will be your first time overseas, you will quickly recognize the considerable cultural, economic, religious, and political influence the U.S. has in the world. The respective government, various institutions, and individuals in your host nation will interpret and react to them in various ways. As an American abroad, you will also be perceived accordingly and inquires about your political and religious ideology in particular, may occur more frequently than you are accustomed to. 

While this can be challenging, it can also be an invaluable opportunity!

Embrace these moments in a respectful manner as a means to learn outside the conventional classroom setting. Please keep in mind, however, an individual’s opinion should not be generalized to the entire population of the country you are in. The more insight you acquire will afford you with a complex, multi-faceted interpretation of the U.S. alongside understanding the diverse perspectives from individuals you encounter throughout your study abroad experience. In other words, you will study each other. 

Prior to your departure, it is in your best interest to be familiar with the relationship between the U.S. and the host nation. The Economist or Foreign Affairs are great resources for this. If a lively debate about the U.S. occurs with a professor, international counterpart, other Americans, or with your host-family, your opinion(s) will be valued if they are informed, you also reciprocate a desire to listen, and learn from others.

Nothing Personal:
Americans_abroad_3Please do not feel pressured to advocate for America's past and current actions while overseas. Unofficially, you are a representative of the U.S., and you will be viewed through both positive and negative stereotypes. Additionally, media in the U.S. and abroad play a huge role in shaping the attitudes of its citizens. If you directly encounter criticism while overseas, it is not personal. In most cases, such individuals disagree with America’s foreign policy. After all, the U.S. as a political entity is very different from a cultural one.

Uncomfortable Situations:
Your study abroad experience will provide numerous opportunities for an unconditional exchange of ideas and values. If, however, you feel uncomfortable in a particular conversation or a social environment, politely excuse yourself. Trust your instincts! If you do not think a situation is positive or safe, move on.

Next Steps:
To learn more about what the study abroad process entails, click on Application Process and carefully follow each step. If you have additional questions or concerns, please make an appointment with an education abroad adviser.

Additional Information:
U.S. Students Abroad
Help for Americans While Overseas

Last modified 08/04/2020

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