In terms of those little quizzes that rank what type of learner you are, I always fall heavily on the “experiential” or learning by doing side. This can be a blessing and a curse, as sometimes it means you need to throw yourself into the ring and learn in the moment. My learning style makes Susquehanna University’s approach towards preparing to go abroad frustrating to say the least.
After midterm break, any student spending the following semester abroad begins their GO (Global Opportunities) Prep course. In the class, the ideal mindset towards study abroad is discussed in painstaking detail. I’ve been lucky enough to have traveled in the past, some students in the class have never left the country, so I can apply many of the principles we learn about to past experiences abroad. That TED talk we watching on keeping an open mind, safety, and the deception caused by media regarding Middle Eastern countries? This summer I lived that on my trip to Egypt.
|Egyptians are nothing but welcoming–and the country is safe.|
While the class might be a refresher (for the most part) for me, it’s still nice to be surrounded by other students getting ready to take the same leap: leaving home for a semester. I was able to meet the other student from SU that will be studying at Florence University of the Arts. We even discovered that our visa appointments are one hour apart! Being able to meet the people that you will be sharing the study abroad experience with is certainly comforting; know I’ll be able to look for at least one familiar face in Florence.
In the end, I don’t think a class can prepare you to study abroad. Students can learn how to avoid ethnocentrism and immerse themselves in the local culture, but there is only so much to gain from articles written in the mid-1980’s. At some point, learning by doing is the only choice. The only way to learn how to study abroad is to actually study abroad.