Honestly, my main concern for study abroad is the language barrier. However, the terms “study abroad” and “global engagement” stir all sorts of excitement and nerves. The past few weeks in class have been focusing on cultural barriers and have made me think of a lot of barriers that I had not considered threatening to my study abroad experience. Going back to when the international students came to speak to our class about their experience, many of them said that they had felt that their countries had been stereotyped. I worry about this, and having to defend myself and my country. Another concern that I have, especially when considering to go on a university exchange (a program that is unaffiliated with OU) is that I will be too far away from my support system. Living abroad will be so much fun — when everything is smooth sailing. However, especially initially, I worry about feeling alone. With time, I’m sure that I will be able to find a new support system in my friend and peers abroad. Before I leave for my host country, I plan to study the culture so that I can minimize the cultural errors/misunderstandings/flaws that I commit. There are so many tiny details that are culturally relevant in different places. From eye contact, to patterns on clothing, I do not ever want to communicate the wrong message because of a simple misunderstanding. I’m sure that some research about the customs in my host country will be helpful in mitigating this concern.

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