Culture & Logistics

Photo of 2 Study Abroad Students in Bedouin Attire in Desert

Culture Shock and Cultural Differences

Culture shock is considered a natural (and perhaps even necessary) part of the adjustment process to living abroad. Symptoms can include depression, sleeping difficulties, homesickness, trouble concentrating, an urge to isolate yourself and irritation with your host culture.

For most students, these symptoms last only a short time, but there are some techniques that can be used to combat culture shock symptoms.

  • Learn as much as possible about your host culture.
  • Keep yourself busy doing things you enjoy. When you have free time, visit museums, go to movies and tour local areas of interest.
  • Keep in touch with your family and friends at home. Letters, phone calls or email contact will make you feel less isolated.

Read up! Here are some culture shock resources and stories:

Logistics while Abroad

Money and Banking

  • Know what currency the host country uses! Use this conversion tool to learn and understand the exchange rate between USD (or another currency) and the host country currency so students can budget accordingly.
  • In most instances, students should not need to open a bank account in their host country.
  • Call bank(s) and credit card companies before departing.
    • Find out what their international transaction fees are and if they have student accounts for international travel
    • Have phone numbers and account numbers for banks/credit cards somewhere safe (i.e. not with the cards!)
    • It may be advisable to open an account that does not charge international transaction fees

Staying in Communication

Communicating while abroad can be tricky due to time zone differences and resources. Luckily, technology has made staying in touch easier. Students don’t have to spend a lot of money to call home – consider the following:

  • Skype: Make voice and video calls, and send messages for free if on Wi-Fi. 
  • Google Chat: Through every CWRU account, students can make voice and video calls and send instant messages.
  • Smartphones: with an international SIM card, consider using an application-based platform to communicate (examples include: WhatsApp, Voxer, KakaoTalk, Viber, Line)

We strongly encourage students to set up a communication plan with their loved ones to stay connected. Make sure it is sustainable (ex: Call mom every Sunday at 2pm EDT, Skype with friends Saturdays at 1pm EDT) and a commitment that can be kept.

Be sure to call or email once the host country is reached. Loved ones are anxiously awaiting news of arrival, too!

Other Logistics

  • Converters and Adaptors
    • Prior to departing, research what type of converter and, if necessary, adaptor is needed for the host country. 
      • Converters change the voltage found in a power outlet to match that of your devices
      • Adaptors help plugs of electronics to fit into the shape of foreign outlets. No matter the host country, an adaptor will be needed.