Understanding Your Student′s Experience

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As stated earlier, everyone responds to new situations in different ways. There are, however, many similarities and stages that students go through as they prepare to leave the U.S., adjust to life abroad and return home. These stages, adapted in part from the works of Margaret Pusch and other leaders in the study abroad field, are on the next page. Reading through this information should help you understand your student’s experiences. In addition, we have included suggestions on how you can help your son or daughter through each stage.

Don’t be surprised if your student passes through these stages in a different order or skips some stage altogether. People adjust to new situations at their own speed and in their own manner. The Buckman Center for International Education encourages students to make the effort to learn, understand and integrate into the new culture as much as possible, from day one and throughout their time abroad.

Although it may not be immediately apparent, students gain important skills as they adjust to life in a different culture. They’re developing what we call intercultural competence, the ability to recognize and respect differences among cultures, and to live and work effectively in a culture other than one’s own.