KEEPING IN TOUCH WITH HOME
Keeping in contact with friends and family while studying abroad can be challenging in some ways, because it will be a change from how you normally communicate.
You want to be sure to maintain a balance between keeping in touch with folks at home and interacting with your host culture, including new friends, new classmates or roommates, and possibly a host family.
- Stay in touch with your family on a regular basis and reassure them of your safety.
- If you tell your family/loved ones that you will call, please call them.
- Please do not tell your parents/loved ones that you will call them when you first arrive: you need time to settle down and get oriented. Tell them that you will call them as soon as you settle down. However, sending a quick e-mail note or text message letting them know that you have arrived and are ok will help ease anxieties.
Remember: We cannot release your contact information without your written permission. If someone from home needs to know where you are, please provide them with those details.
Set reasonable expectations with your loved ones before you leave. How often will you be able to talk on the phone? Email? Video chat? Are you likely to have limited access to the internet?
HOMESICKNESS, INTEGRATION, REACHING OUT AND COMMUNICATION
Homesickness when you are far away from friends and family and trying to speak a different language can be very real and difficult to deal with. For most students the first two weeks are typically the hardest but it will get easier, especially if you try to focus on adjusting to your new life, making new friends, and staying busy. Remember that you are not alone and don’t hesitate to reach out to someone in your group or the program staff.
Of course, you will keep in touch with home, but too much contact with home can have negative effects on your experience abroad. The temptation to reach out to your friends and family at home on Skype, Facebook, chats etc… is great but if your mind is always thinking of your family and friends in the U.S., you will scarcely have time to absorb your new life in a new country. If your mind is always back in America, if you withdraw from engaging with your current environment, or you spend all your time with Americans you will stay stuck in the “irritation and hostility stage” of culture shock. Try to restrict calling your parents and friends to once or twice a week, rather than every day (or multiple times a day). You can catch up on other news by e-mail.
Your experience is what you make of it and there’s really nothing more important to an overseas experience than reaching out to others and integrating oneself into one’s host culture. Breaking out of your safe, secure world and meeting the people of your host country, though difficult at first, will undoubtedly be the most enlightening and rewarding part of your stay abroad. As with many aspects of your study-abroad experience, it will be up to you to take the initiative. Introductions will be rare, and almost never to the people with whom you really want to connect, and no one will force you to integrate. But if you branch out and spend time in social settings away from other Americans, the rewards in meeting and establishing relationships with host nationals, as well as improving your language skills, will absolutely outweigh the emotional and physical effort involved. Try to make connections with host nationals who are interested in you and your views on certain issues and situations. So, reach out and find an activity or a sport or SOMETHING that’ll help you meet the locals, and do what you set out to do when you applied to study abroad–get away from America!
If one of your reasons for being in a new country is to make solid improvement in your language skills, realize that communication technology, and your use of it, may greatly hinder your linguistic progress while abroad. Spending time communicating in English (Skype, Facebook, chats etc..) will reduce your language immersion and will work against your own linguistic progress.
METHODS OF COMMUNICATION ABROAD
The easiest and most economical way to contact home will vary from country to country. For tips on the best ways to communicate abroad, check your program materials, ask your program provider, or recent study abroad alumni. Some common methods include:
- Cell phones (US or local)
- Calling cards, public pay phones and in-home phones
- Email, internet cafes, wifi
- Postal service
- Video chat
- Blogging, vlogging
- Other social media
CHECKING YOUR COLBY EMAIL
Review your Colby email account during your semester abroad via Colby Web mail: www.colby.edu/webmail.
- Since registration and housing information will be sent by email it is very important that you check your Colby e-mail account while you are away, even if you are in a remote location.
- Registration is completed on the Internet and the Registrar (firstname.lastname@example.org) will try to contact you via e-mail to determine if you are able to register on the Web. The curriculum, course descriptions from the catalogue, and registration materials will be on the Web.
- Housing information will be sent directly from the Dean of Housing at Colby College via email to your Colby account. If you have questions regarding housing procedures, please contact the Office of Campus Life at email@example.com.
- The Colby Echo is available on-line for all Colby students abroad at http://www.colbyecho.com.
Copy down all names, phone numbers, postal and e-mail addresses of people with whom you might need to have contact while abroad.
We suggest that you prepare all your emergency contacts and information in one place so it is handy when needed. You may download this Student Emergency Information Card as a tool to help you keep track of all the important numbers you may need.
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
In case of a program-related, health-related, or personal concern or emergency, your first step is to inform your local program coordinator. Please also notify OCS so that we may assist in any way we can on our end.
In the event that you decide to leave your program before completion, it is important that you confer with both your local program staff and OCS about the options available to you. Depending on the timing of your departure, we cannot guarantee what your options will be nor how many (if any) credits may be transferred.
Students receiving financial aid from Colby should be aware that students who withdraw during the semester must notify Colby and may be responsible for the refund of College and/or federal funds in accordance with College policy and federal refund regulations. Please remember that, in general, no student may receive more than eight semesters of aid from Colby.