Preparing Students for the Experience

PRE-DEPARTURE SESSIONS AND ORIENTATION

You should emphasize the importance of attending all planned pre-trip sessions and orientation. All participants should hear and receive the same information and be clear about the program requirements and expectations. This will minimize a chance for further misunderstandings in meeting expectations.

It will be your responsibility to develop a Participant’s Binder, which will be a helpful tool for learners later and which they can use to develop a portfolio. You can include the following information:

  • Program overview, including program itinerary, course descriptions, and information about credit and evaluation.
  • UW Colleges Study Abroad Office contact information.
  • Information about the hosting country and city, including country-specific information from the U.S. Department of State (see http://travel.state.gov).
  • Country-specific information related to gender roles, receptivity to public displays of affection, attitudes about homosexuality, culturally appropriate behavior and dress, and the consequences of inappropriate behavior.
  • Behavioral expectations.
  • Costs and refund policy.
  • Financial aid and funding information.
  • Country-specific safety and health issues, including necessary immunizations and information about access to health care, physical access issues, assistance in an emergency, and embassy registration.
  • Outline of program drug and alcohol policies and country drug and alcohol laws.
  • Resources available in a crisis, including information about how to access local emergency medical services.
  • Policies regarding use of cars and other modes of transportation.
  • Information about cultural adaptation and culture shock as well as re-entry or reverse culture shock.
The Study Abroad Coordinator will assist you with the following information and materials:
  • Costs and refund policy.
  • Financial aid and funding information.
  • Country-specific safety and health issues, including necessary immunizations and information about access to health care, physical access issues, assistance in an emergency, and embassy registration.
  • Outline of program drug and alcohol policies and country drug and alcohol laws.
  • Resources available in a crisis, including information about how to access local emergency medical services.
  • Policies regarding use of cars and other modes of transportation.
  • Information about cultural adaptation and culture shock as well as re-entry or reverse culture shock.

FINAL LOGISTICS

Before going to the airport make sure once again that all travel arrangements, financial arrangements and documentation are ready. The Study Abroad office will have the copies of all the necessary documentation and be the major emergency contact for the families and friends of the study abroad program participants during the international travel.

Check that each participant has the following documents:

  • valid passport (expiration date should be at least six months after the program completes);
  • valid visa (if required);
  • CISI insurance card;
  • a copy of the course syllabus;
  • a copy of the itinerary;
  • a copy of contact list with addresses and phone numbers in the US and in the target country;
  • an emergency card.

Check that you have the following documents:

  • valid passport (expiration date should be at least several months after the program completes);
  • valid visa (if required);
  • CISI insurance card;
  • a copy of this Manual
  • a copy of the itinerary;
  • a copy of contact list with addresses and phone numbers in the US and in the target country;
  • financial resources;
  • U.S. Consulate or Embassy contact information in the target country;
  • a photocopy of page one of each participant’s passport and visa (if required);
  • a photocopy of each participant’s Health Statement Form and Emergency Information form;

Ensure that the Study Abroad Office has the following documents:

  • a copy of the itinerary;
  • a photocopy of passports and visas (if required) of all participants and yours;
  • a copy of contact list with addresses and phone numbers in the target country;
  • a photocopy of each participant’s Health Statement Form and Emergency Information form.

ON-SITE ORIENTATION

During the on-site orientation, you should review the program schedule and requirements and set ground rules. You should repeat this information even if you have reviewed it in the pre-departure orientation. Inform students of local laws, regulations, customs of the host country, community, etc. Remind them that they are serving as ambassadors of the UW Colleges, Wisconsin, and the US; review behavioral expectations.

CULTURE SHOCK

Most study abroad participants will experience some form of culture shock. However, some might experience it after only two days in the visiting country, others not until a week or two into their stay. In addition, the concrete indicators of culture shock vary from individual to individual.

Usually, cultural adaptation starts with the Honeymoon Period when a student is interested and excited by the new experience and surroundings. Although he/she may be nervous, the excitement outweighs anxiety or concern.

The Culture Shock Stage can follow the Honeymoon Period. A student feels overwhelmed by new practices and behaviors, e.g. transportation, food, language, and loneliness. Be aware of possible indicators of culture shock in students, including compulsive eating or lack of appetite; minor illnesses (colds, upset stomachs, etc); feelings of helplessness, irritability, and loneliness; homesickness; sleeping more than usual; feeling depressed; getting angry easily; decline in inventiveness, spontaneity, or flexibility; stereotyping of host country/culture; increase in physical ailments or pains; inability to work effectively; boredom; or unexplainable crying. 

Encourage students to take care of their health, sleep, and eat well. If the students continue their everyday routine they will find soon that everyday activities such as housing, meals, and transportation are no longer big problems for them. These are the indicators of the initial adjustment.

MISUSE OF ALCOHOL AND DRUG ABUSE

As a faculty or participant in a University of Wisconsin Colleges Study Abroad Program you are serving as an ambassador for UW Colleges, the state of Wisconsin, and the United States and you are expected to abide by the laws, regulations, and customs of the host country, community, institution and program and to conduct yourself in a responsible and mature manner at all times. Most countries – with the exception of those with religious prohibitions – tolerate social drinking. Intoxication, public drunkenness and inebriating behavior, however, are seldom allowed under any circumstances.  Alcohol abuse and misuse are not tolerated anywhere in the world and will not be tolerated on UW Colleges sponsored study abroad programs. Violation of local laws and/or UW Colleges regulations or policies related to alcohol misuse and abuse may result in (i) immediate dismissal from the program including required immediate return home your own cost; (ii) academic withdrawal from the college for the semester in progress; and (iii) disciplinary action upon return to campus.

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which differ significantly from those in the United States and do not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession of, use of, or trafficking in illegal drugs in other countries can be severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.

The UW Colleges has a zero-tolerance policy regarding the possession, use, manufacture, production, sale, exchange or distribution of illegal drugs by anyone participating in UW Colleges study abroad programs. Violation of this policy may result in (i) immediate dismissal from the program; (ii) academic withdrawal from the University for the semester in progress; and (iii) disciplinary action upon return to campus.

HANDLING COMPLAINTS AND BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS

Rules and regulations applied to each Study Abroad program reflect the UW Colleges Student Rights Regulations. When any violations occur, the terms of continuing participation in the Study Abroad program and/or UW Colleges campus courses and activities will be reviewed by the UW Colleges Administration and treated accordingly.