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Cultural Learning

Basic Things You Should Know Before You Go

A little bit of knowledge can go a long way to establish good relations with the host culture(s) of your study abroad country. For instance,
  • Do you know if you should you bring a gift to your host family?
  • How formal should you be with your hosts?
  • What should you expect in terms of how to register for your classes?
  • What are some major political issues facing your host country?

Take some time to investigate the following topics – use the internet, foreign newspapers, and magazines or ask a person from your host country:
  • Names of political leaders and political parties; type of government
  • Major religion(s)/spiritual beliefs and their effect on the host country
  • Hot topics of the day (e.g., government scandals)
  • Recent conflicts and the role of the U.S. in those conflicts
  • Year of independence and circumstances
  • Economic conditions
  • Cultural diversity (immigration and refugee populations, etc.)
  • Class structure (e.g., what will your status as a student be in this country? What percentage of students in your host country go to college?