The Need for Study Abroad Preparation
North Park University is committed to preparing students for lives of significance and service. Studying away from campus is a great way to broaden your worldview and explore your future. Part of making the most of this is thorough preparation before you head out of Chicago or even the United States. Therefore, the International Office requires that all students who are accepted to represent North Park abroad attend orientation sessions during the semester prior to departure.
In order for your time abroad to be significant, you must be intentional about engaging with a study location, setting appropriate goals, and addressing culture shock, value conflicts, and differences in educational systems. Pre-study abroad orientation sessions will help you with specific research on your host country, identify your own learning styles and expectations for academic achievement, and explore the potential difficulties that different cultural settings may present.
In order for your time abroad to be one of service, you need to get to know yourself better and discover previously unexamined values, biases, and cultural lenses. Once you identify and understand these internal characteristics, you will be better able to encounter and understand individuals from other regions and cultures more compassionately, and interact with them more justly. Pre-study abroad orientation sessions will also give you the opportunity to do personality assessments and to learn about cross-cultural communication techniques.
Ultimately, these sessions will situate the study abroad experience within the context of your North Park education. Along with other students preparing to study abroad, the staff of the International Office will help you consider the following questions, and how you might answer them.
- Who am I as a student studying outside of my homeland?
- Why should I be ethical in dealing with cultures other than my own?
- Who is my neighbor and why is it important that I learn about my global neighbors before living among them?
- What is truth in light of different cultural values?