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Culture Shock

Arriving in a new country is typically thought of as being a beautiful mixture of excitement, fear, and joy. You will be relieved to be there, but disoriented and perhaps jet lagged.

Culture shock is a very real experience. It’s helpful to take it one step at a time. When you step off the plane, will you understand the woman at the information kiosk? Will you be able to read the signs? No matter how prepared you are, how much you’ve studied the language, everything feels different once you are there. Be prepared for some confusion, but do not be discouraged. It will be okay!

Have an Itinerary:

Know where to go when you exit the terminal. Before you leave, research the public transit system if you plan to use it. Knowing how to get to your first resting point greatly reduces stress. Play with Google Street View if the city has it!

Engage the Culture:

Embrace the honeymoon phase of your acclimation. Speak to locals and stay active. Remember, even your frustrations are integral to your overall experience.

Bring a Memento:

It can be a photograph, a letter, a lucky coin, anything. These small, yet familiar objects can help you collect yourself if you're going abroad for an extended period of time and begin to feel lonely.

Physical Well-being

Along with being mentally prepared for your time spent studying abroad, you must also be aware of the physical risks involved in such an endeavor. Taking certain precautions before leaving, and following some basic guidelines during your trip will help ensure that you remain healthy and comfortable.


Depending on where you will be traveling, you may be required or recommended to receive certain immunizations. The Center for Disease Control's resource will help you find information about the specific region you will be visiting.

Health Insurance:

Having health and/or travelers insurance is a good idea for both brief and extended travel outside of the U.S. We offer several packages that are designed to meet your specific travel needs.

Register with Your Embassy:

If you are an American going abroad, locate your specific U.S. embassy . Registering with your embassy is a proactive step that helps you stay connected with your country in the event of an emergency.

Local Cuisine:

An important part of getting to know a culture is getting to know the cuisine. Participating in trying new dishes is a wonderful way to experience a country, but it may take some getting used to digestively. Here are a few ways to keep your stomach happy.

  • Eat food that has been fully cooked. Avoid raw or undercooked meats.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables that you can peel.
  • Drink sealed, bottled beverages. Boil water if you intend to drink it.
  • In some countries, try to avoid drinks with ice.

Go Prepared:

Put together a wellness pack to bring with you on your travels.

  • First Aid kit
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen.
  • Any prescription medicine (enough to last three months). A physician's note is also recommended to bring along with your medication.

Avoid any high-risk activity that may expose you to injury, and always use sound judgment when being in a new city at night. Studying abroad is an incredibly rewarding experience, and being mentally and physically prepared throughout your journey will help you have the best experience possible.

Return to our "Insurance Explained" section for more information and help