Once abroad, you can take some steps to minimize emotional and physical ups and downs.
- Learn as much as you can about the host country before going. (See Researching Your Destination)
- Keep yourself healthy through regular exercise and eating habits; get enough sleep.
- Try to establish routines that incorporate both the difficult and enjoyable tasks of the day or week.
- Don’t expect things to be the same as they are at home; you’ve left home to experience different things.
- Stay in touch with your friends and family, but don’t just call them when you are lonely or frustrated: Share your accomplishments and the positive moments.
- Don’t confuse difference with inferiority.
- Don’t judge the people of a country by the one person with whom you have trouble.
- Resist looking down on or making jokes and comments about the host culture. Avoid others who take part in such derogatory remarks.
Photo: S. Walter, Mexico 2006
- Treat yourself to an occasional indulgence, such as an American magazine or newspaper, a favorite meal or beverage, or a long talk with other Americans experiencing the same challenges.
- Accept invitations to activities that will allow you to see parts of the host culture outside the classroom and help you to meet new people.
- Remember that you are a guest in the host country and that when you treat a host with respect, you will be treated similarly.
- Above all keep an open mind, be sensitive to the feelings of others, and maintain your sense of humor.