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Useful Information for your Course

In the following section, we have gathered some general information about travelling that we find useful. This section will be expanded regularly, so come back soon to check for updates!
Culture Shock

Definition: describes the anxiety someone feels when they move to a completely new environment. It expresses the feelings of not knowing what to do or how to do things in the new environment.


Reasons for culture shock:

Culture shock happens when things are different and we may not know:

  • The language
  • How to use daily amenities like bank machines, telephones, etc.
  • How to get around the city
  • What is appropriate or inappropriate 


Symptoms of culture shock:

The symptoms of culture shock can appear at different times. Many people feel the symptoms when the excitement of a new place is diminishing and gets replaced by daily routines after the first few weeks. The time until culture shock strikes as well as the severity strongly depends on the individual. Some—but not all—of the symptoms include:

  • sadness, loneliness, depression
  • worry about your health
  • aches, pains and allergies
  • insomnia (unable to sleep) or sleeping too much
  • changes in how you normally react to situations—getting angry easily, feeling powerless
  • mood swings (going from happy to sad or angry very quickly)
  • unable to solve simple problems
  • feelings of not being adequate or insecure
  • homesickness


Four Stages of Culture Shock

Everyone experiences culture shock differently. Some people do not feel each stage in order and some people may skip one or more stages. Some people may be in one stage for a long time and other stages for a short time. Maybe you will feel all four stages in one day or one week.
  1. Stage One — You may feel pleased and very happy about your decision to be in your new environment. Everything that is new is very exciting and interesting. This stage is also referred to as the honeymoon period.
  2. Stage Two — You may find things are difficult to do and you become dissatisfied with your life abroad. You may feel that communicating with other people in a foreign language is difficult and causes you many problems. You may feel that your customs and culture are better than those abroad which don’t make any sense to you. At this time you may feel anger, unhappiness, sadness, loneliness, and depression.
  3. Stage Three — You can see humor in communication problems and cultural differences. You do not feel as lost as before and you are more comfortable with your new life. You may develop new goals and have a new sense of purpose in your studies.
  4. Stage Four — You can find a balance again. You are able to see the positive aspects of the foreign and your own culture. You feel a more solid sense of belonging and are satisfied with your choice to study abroad. 


Re-entry Shock

Re-entry shock occurs when you return to your home country and experience similar feelings of culture shock. You may have:

  • trouble fitting back into your old life because your experience studying abroad changed the way you think about the world.
  • feel that you have changed but the people around you want you to be the person you were before you left. 
  • experience other adjustment problems because you had gotten used to the way your life was as a student abroad in a new culture and now that you are back home you may feel at a loss.


How to Fight Culture Shock

The first step is to realize that any feelings of culture shock that you may be having are normal.
You are not alone. If you need to speak to someone, please feel free to speak with any of the staff at our partner school. If you feel that you need more serious help, please let someone know. The sooner you speak to someone about your feelings the more likely you will be able to adjust to life abroad successfully.

Other ways to fight culture shock are:

  • Join activities and try to make new friends
  • Develop a hobby
  • Don’t forget the good things that your new surrounding has to offer
  • Find your own little “Oasis” or hideaway where you feel comfortable (e.g.: a nice coffee house, a park, beach front, …)
  • Remember that you can always speak to someone at our partner school about any problem you may have
  • Be patient, going through culture shock is a process and it takes time to adjust to a new culture and life
  • Be easy on yourself — remember this is a natural process that most people experience
  • Don’t try too hard — accept that you will need time to adjust to your new life
  • Get regular exercise — exercise tends to relieve symptoms or stress and loneliness
  • Practice other relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga
  • Maintain contact with your family and friends back home
  • Allow yourself to feel sad or homesick about the things that you miss back home
  • Establish simple daily goals for yourself
  • Realize that it is OK if you are not 100% satisfied with your new life abroad - all new places have positive and negative points
  • Try to focus on the positive things rather than the negative things
  • Look for help — don’t suffer by yourself, let someone know how you are feeling
Packing List

Here is a recommended packing check-list for you:


  • Shorts
  • Jeans/Long pants (in warm areas linen can be a good alternative)
  • Sweatshirt 
  • Jacket
  • T-shirts
  • Sleeveless tops
  • Skirts, Sundresses
  • Long sleeve tops
  • Swimsuit / trunks
  • Socks and Underwear
  • Sun hat
  • Gloves
  • Warm hat
  • Running Shoes / Sneakers
  • Flip-flops / Sandals
  • (Hiking) Boots
  • (Beach) Towel
  • Bedcover (if required)



  • Shower soap
  • Tooth brush
  • Shampoo
  • Lotion / Moisturizer
  • Make-up
  • Deodorant
  • Razor and shaving soap



  • Umbrella
  • Camera
  • Backpack
  • Dictionary
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Study materials [pen, notebook, bag, etc.]
  • Copy of important documents [Passport, Credit Card, Visa,…]
  • Other important documents [International driving license, diving certificate,…] 

Carry-on the plane items:


  • Visa (if necessary)
  • Passport
  • Money (cash and credit card if available)
  • Pen
  • Information package on school or accommodation
  • Jacket
  • Extra pair of socks (especially for long flights)
  • Flight Information
  • Ear plugs
  • Moisturizer for nose and eye (especially for long flights)
  • Refreshing towel
  • Chewing gum
  • Computer / MP3 Player / Book (Entertainment)


Jet Lag

The feelings of disorientation encountered as a result of crossing time zones are known as jet lag. Although jet lag occasionally lasts for a week or more, travelers usually return to their normal sleep-wake pattern after a day or two. Jetlag can be mainly avoided by sleeping in the plane and by adjusting to your new time zone.

Suggestions for jetlag self care include:

  • If you are flying westward, try to go to sleep as late as possible for two to three days before you leave. This will make it easier to adapt to the new location.
  • When you sleep on the plane, try to plan sleep as if the time is that of the destination.
  • Wear an eye mask.
  • Maximize comfort with a pillow supporting your neck and head.
  • Bring earplugs and blindfolds to reduce noise and light while sleeping. 
Suggestions on adjusting to your new time zone include:
  • Expose your body to daylight to help 'reset' your body clock.
  • Drink caffeinated drinks in moderation during the day.
  • Avoid alcohol or caffeinated drinks for a few hours prior to sleep at night.
  • Try to mimic your usual bedtime routine.
  • Use relaxation techniques.
  • Avoid heavy exercise close to bedtime. 
Before leaving home

Make sure:

  • your flight is confirmed and the school has your latest flight information
  • you have your homestay / accommodation address and phone number with you
  • you have your airline ticket, passport and visa [if required] with you
  • you have your wallet/purse and in ideal at least some local currency already to make an emergency phone call if necessary upon arrival (your cell phone may not work in some destinations) 

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