Video Transcript: Outbound Exchange Pre-Departure Part Three
Welcome back in part three we will go over culture shock, LGBTIQ community questions, tips for single travellers and being an ambassador for SCU.
Let's get started
One thing you can count on your international study experience is it's going to be very different from home and can be a big adjustment. You might be overwhelmed when you arrive so look out for culture shock.
Even if you may have travelled, and or lived overseas before, cultural adjustment is an inevitable part of your experience. It may disguise itself as frustration or annoyance and can happen the day you arrive or three weeks into your program, but it can be harnessed into a positive opportunity to grow and learn from the local culture.
Before you go research aspects of your host country such as climate, public transportation, accommodation types and cost of living so when you arrive overseas you will know what to expect.
Here are a few tips to help you combat culture shock if it creeps up on you:
- Be present at orientation at your host university and ask lots of questions.
- Get a mate - make friends with a local as they can be your cultural 'tour guide'.
- It's OK to have Aussie friends overseas, as you are going through similar experiences.
- Be a tourist - when you are feeling down, make a point of leaving the house and discovering something new, learn the transport system and how to get around.
- Do something familiar - comforts of home from time to time can make you feel better.
- Journal or blog - if you are feeling really down try writing your feelings down in a journal before blogging and potentially offending your new local pals.
- Contact SCU international - many of us have lived, studied and travelled overseas before and have experience with getting through the culture shock blues.
- Communication - Stay in touch, Skype, journal/blog, email - Monitor your SCU email address - alternatively forward your SCU email to a preferred address.
BELINDA: It's important to stay in touch with friends, family and SCU. I admit I got homesick and skype and social media helped me stay connected.
Also do you speak the language of your host university or do you need to take a language course to attend, some universities have language units that are compulsory and must be completed before your time abroad.
SHANON: The international study experience really teaches you to become organised, so don't leave everything to the last minute, save yourself the stress.
If you're a part of the LGBTIQ community, have you researched where you are going?
Australian lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer students preparing to go on exchange should be aware that social attitudes towards LGBTIQ around the world can be very different from those in Australia. It is highly advised that you prepare well and read up about your destination before you go, particularly if you are planning an exchange to a more socially conservative country. With careful planning and research it is possible for LGBTIQ students to have very successful and rewarding study abroad experiences.
When deciding on which program might be best for you, talk to one of the SCU advisors about potential host countries or universities. Laws or attitudes towards the LGBTIQ community can create potential risks for exchange or study abroad. You might also find other sources of information to be useful such as online resource guidebooks, government resources and local and international LGBTIQ organisations. These can all help with ease culture shock in your host country.
Some questions you might consider:
- What are the laws like regarding LGBTIQ in my host country?
- What are the cultural attitudes towards LGBTIQ in my host country?
- How open can I be about my sexuality/gender identity with my teachers, friends and others?
- What resources are available at my host university? Do they have an LGBTIQ support programs or student groups?
- Are there any LGBTIQ-friendly establishments nearby?
SHANON: I'm glad I check what the LGBTIQ community was like before I went I found so much useful information.
Women travelling alone
What about if you are a woman travelling alone?
A woman travelling on her own may encounter more difficulties than a man by himself. Relations between men and women and the position of genders within society differ significantly around the world. Not all countries value the concept of equality and these views may challenge your own perceptions of gender. Be prepared for varying opinions on gender sexual identity issues. To avoid hassles be flexible, try to fit in and understand the role of that sex in the culture in which you are travelling. Flexibility means observing how the host country's women dress and behave and following their example. What may be appropriate or friendly behaviour and dress standards in Australia may bring you unwanted, or even dangerous, attention in another culture.
Being an ambassador
Remember, you are representing Southern Cross University and Australia while you are overseas so it is important that you are an excellent ambassador. Your successes and struggles directly affect Southern Cross's ability to send future students to exchange programs and create overseas study opportunities. This may seem like an ambiguous concept so here are tips about how to be an excellent global ambassador:
- Respecting financial obligations of your host university/country.
- Fulfil academic responsibilities.
- Understanding the social norms of your host culture including the drinking, gambling and LBGTIQ cultures.
- Volunteering to represent Southern Cross and Australia on your host campus.
- Offering advice to students wishing to study overseas.
RYAN: As an ambassador for SCU I was involved in games, field trips and even a few dinners it was one of the best parts of my international experience.
Well that's it from me however please remember this is a fraction of the information available and what you should know before you embark on your international study experience. Be sure to read up and ask lots of questions. So take care, be safe, and, remember have fun.
See you when you get back. Bye.
SCRIPT AND EDITING
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