View a copy of our Pre-Arrival Guide for International Students. This booklet contains important information about visas, air travel, paying your bill, what to pack and more! This booklet will also be mailed to you if you are receiving an I-20 from our office.
We want you to get the most out of your summer experience at Yale. For some, this may be the first trip abroad. Here are some strategies for making the most of your time abroad.
Do your research: After identifying your goals for your experience, it is helpful to do more research about the destination where you will study.
Cultivate humility: Listen to what people have to say. Assuming that there are logical reasons for why people do things the way they do can go a long way towards creating good relationships across cultures.
Be in the moment: Stretch your capacities by simply being in the present moment and approaching the environment around you with curiosity.
Be where you are: Be in the moment where you physically are. The more you are on the internet, the less you are part of the local community. The more your thoughts are with people and events beyond the local, the less you will understand the nuances of your immediate environment.
Be aware of the adjustment process: Students experience and adjust to living abroad in many different ways. From the initial thrill of arrival, to feelings of homesickness, to developing a routine to help you accomplish the goals you set out for yourself, see if you recognize yourself in one or more of the phases of cultural adjustment (below). You might cycle through these phases at different times, or perhaps you will notice that you have not experienced any of them at all.
|Common Phases When Studying Away from Home|
|Honeymoon Period||Excitement about being in a new culture.|
|Culture Shock||Feeling a sense of unease or unfamiliarity with how or why things “work” the way they do.|
|Initial Adjustment||Becoming more familiar with daily life in the new culture; if studying language, feeling more confident about your communication skills.|
|Isolation||Feelings of homesickness; experiencing frustration with accomplishing everyday tasks; missing social cues.|
|Acceptance and Adaptation||Greater ability to navigate the new culture; understanding habits, customs, food, and establishing ties within the community.|
Suspend judgment: Open-mindedness has to be one of the best attitudes for a productive time abroad.
Be an ethnographer: Write down a brief account of interactions or behaviors you find puzzling, and then ask someone local for help in decoding what you’ve seen – this can spark really enlightening conversations. Done in the context of journal writing, it can also form a record that can be very interesting to review a few years into the future when the details of your experience are beginning to blur.
Reflect on your experience and write about your reflection: One thing all the research shows is that reflection on experience abroad is one of the most important elements in making that experience worthwhile.