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The most important thing you can do before you leave is to research your host culture – what are the cultural norms, expected behaviors, taboo topics, the lifestyle, etc.? You can ease the stress of making a cultural transition by learning as much as you can about your host culture.

During the first few weeks, spend time observing how the locals interact with each other – do they shake hands or kiss on the cheek? What is the dynamic between the men and women, between generations, different socioeconomic groups, and teachers vs. students? What seems to take precedence in your host culture – work, family, money, leisure, and or religion?

As you start to understand more about your new environment, try to adopt their behavior. This will help you adjust and also acquire a deeper understanding of the complexities of where you are studying abroad.

Below are some resources to guide your research:

Online Books
  • Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands by T. Morrison and W. Conaway
  • When in Rome or Rio or Riyadh… Cultural Q&As for Successful Business Behavior Around the World by G. Olofsson
  • Communicating Globally: Intercultural Communication and International Business by W. Schmidt, et al.
  • The Art of Crossing Cultures by C. Storti
  • Figuring Foreigners Out by C. Storti
  • The Big Guide to Living and Working Overseas by J. Hachey
  • Travel That Can Change Your Life: How to Create a Transformative Experience by J. Kottler
  • Understanding Global Cultures: Metaphorical Journeys through 29 Nations, Clusters of Nations, Continents, and Diversity by M. Gannon and R. Pillai
Travel Guides Travel Magazines

Last modified 12/13/2018

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