Study abroad fears set straight

Linfield is known for its great study abroad opportunities. You cannot walk across campus without meeting someone who studied abroad and absolutely loved it.

This opportunity is something we are all lucky and proud to have.

Since hearing about a student being robbed while abroad, some students have been worried that they might not be as prepared as they originally thought they would be.

“Linfield requires all participants to attend a study abroad orientation, which also includes pre-orientation assignments. Students are also encouraged to take a course in Intercultural Communication and to attain a high level of proficiency in the target language,” said Shaik Ismail, director of International Programs at Linfield College.

“Aside from general cross-cultural factors, issues of cultural adaptation and societal values of the host country, students also learn about the specifics of the host city, country and about the host institution itself,” he said. “The orientation program goes into various ‘real-life’ scenarios that are aimed to prepare students for unforeseen circumstances. We also discuss issues of health and safety and how to avert or minimize exposure to risk.”

Although study abroad preparations are very thorough, it may be beneficial to make programs even more individualized depending on the country the student is traveling to. Since cultural values, beliefs and norms are different depending on the country, it is important that students are educated on differences.

“Educational systems and the culture of learning vary quite a bit, depending upon where you go to study. One of the outcomes we seek from our students is the ability to negotiate successfully within a system that is markedly different than the one we are accustomed to in the U.S.,” Ismail said.

Ultimately, students are given adequate tools to be prepared to study abroad.

It is their job to use these tools and tailor them to their specific needs.

So no one needs to excessively fear about studying abroad. Linfield provides students with the appropriate tools to deal with difficult situations.

Otherwise, it is your own duty to continue preparing individually and specifically for the country you are going to.

“We try to individualize these sessions as much as possible, bringing in faculty experts of the countries and universities where our students will be studying. Students are also encouraged to learn as much as possible about their host country in the pre-departure assignments,” Ismail said.

-The Review Editorial Board