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Some American students struggle to acclimate to new cultures

September 28, 2011

Some American students choose to study abroad to immerse themselves in foreign cultures, and then spend the whole time with other Americans. They wind up stuck inside their "American bubbles," but more U.S. educational institutes are making efforts to get students to leave their comfort zones while abroad, according to the Associated Press. One group of students who traveled to China to study were dropped off, alone, on the border of the city in which they would be living with nothing more than $5 and instructions to get home.

"Unless something is set up that really forces them to get involved in that environment, they really don't," William Finlay, a sociologist at the University of Georgia, told the AP. "We push them to do things that are uncomfortable. Sometimes they get overwhelmed."

Finlay set up an international study program that takes students to South Africa, where they work in impoverished towns.

Living in a foreign land with a different culture can be overwhelming, and while it is good for students to broaden their horizons and try new things, staying in touch with family is equally as important. An international calling card can keep kids connected and help them avoid homesickness, which may encourage them to branch out and face the foreign culture head-on.

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