This Week in Study Abroad: The Huffington Post Encourages Study Abroad Students to Break Out of Their Comfort Zone
How many times have you heard all of us here at Abroad101 push you current and future study abroad-ers to pop out of that American-bubble-comfort-zone and dive into the culture of your host city? Probably a lot, right? This week an article in the Huffington Post explains how universities and program providers alike are encouraging their students to break out of the American culture of back home and embrace their foreign study abroad destinations.
Students tend to be tied to their homeland whether studying in remote locations in small corners of Asia and Africa or even popular destinations such as Italy, Spain, and France. These students connect to friends and family back home via online communication platforms – sometimes for more than four hours a day! Technology abroad can both help and hurt a student’s experience. While unlocking valuable ways to share and document their experience, it can also lead to a stronger urge to spend hours on skype or google chatting with friends back home. Some faculty leaders have devised creative ways to limit the use of students using technology while on field trips abroad; some even leading their students on a “technology fast” during the beginning stages of their trips so they can fully immerse into the experience without worrying about posting pictures or communicating with friends online. While this brilliant idea may be scary to a few, especially in the beginning, it will enable you to soak up many more details and memories of your experiences abroad to share with your friends…when you get back home!!
One sociologist at the University of Georgia writes, “Unless something is set up that really forces them to get involved in that environment, they really don’t.” Program faculty and administrators have thought of more unique and innovative ways to help their students acclimate to foreign cultures and disconnect with home. These include everything from ice-breaker assignments with locals to dropping students off in a remote neighborhood in China and challenging them to find their way home.
Now that you have heard it from everyone at Abroad101, and from the Huffington Post, challenge yourself by finding exotic field trips or locations to visit, try new and unusual things you may not be able to do at home, make local friends, and embrace the culture of your study abroad home-away-from-home. More importantly: limit your communication with friends and family in the states!