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Study Abroad

While You're Abroad

While You're Abroad

Traveling abroad can be an amazing experience. You’ve prepared for for your trip carefully. When you arrive, you may have some some adventures. It is important to expect the unexpected wherever in the world you may be. Here are some considerations.

In Case of Emergency

  • Be sure to complete the emergency contact information from Engineering Study Abroad application.
  • Be familiar with the emergency information provided by the MU International Center.

Staying Safe While Abroad

Adapting to a New Country and Dealing with Culture Shock

What is Culture Shock?

Every traveler will encounter culture shock at some point in their journey, no matter how experienced they are.  Culture shock is the disorienting, frustrating, and sometimes euphoric feeling a person experiences when they are immersed in a culture that is not their own.  Excitement at seeing new sites and being introduced to a new culture can quickly wear off into annoyance or anger.  The same things that you may have enjoyed at the beginning of their journey are now making you stressed or emotional for no reason.  Here are some tips of what it looks like when experiencing this shock and how you can combat it.

How to Handle Culture Shock Stress Abroad

  1. Learn as much about your host city/country as possible before you depart so you can be aware of their norms ahead of time.
  2. Talk with your fellow students or professor about how you are feeling and share strategies to cope.
  3. Maintain a healthy diet and exercise while abroad. This can reduce anxiety and stress.
  4. Try to make friends with locals to help you acclimate to your new environment easier.
  5. Journal your trip early on and you can look back at fun memories later if you feel frustrated or anxious.

Lastly, withhold judgment.  Just because someone does something different does not make it wrong or right.  Try to come to an understanding of why a culture does things a certain way and learn to adapt for the short time you will be living there!

Dealing with American Stereotypes

While you are abroad, you will have to adjust to some of the stereotypes that are going to be assumed about you in your new host country.  Here are some common (but not always true) stereotypes about Americans that you may encounter while abroad:

  • Loud
  • Unceremonious
  • Immature
  • Extravagant and wasteful
  • Ignorant of other cultures
  • Promiscuous
  • Pushy
  • Overly friendly

If you encounter these stereotypes being used against you and you feel the need to engage, try to address them in a patient and tolerant manner.  Try to be mindful that the people you are meeting and working with abroad may have these stereotypes of you based only on limited interactions, and this could be an opportunity for you to break down these stereotypes where hopefully each of you learn something about each other.

Facing Discrimination

There is always a possibility that some stereotypes could lead to hostility against you or the group just because of your identity.  Verbal harassment is the most common type of hostility you may face abroad, and if you find yourself in this type of situation try to evacuate the area as quickly as possible and do not engage in order to deescalate the problem.  If a situation arises where the harassment becomes openly hostile or dangerous, you should alert your program leader or contact local authorities, when appropriate.

Go Prepared

In every culture, there will be different perceptions of what is appropriate regarding a variety of matters including: personal space, timeliness, social behaviors, and group dynamics.   Students are encouraged to try and learn as much as possible about the customs and culture of their host country before they depart.  Certain actions that appear normal here may be seen as offensive in a different country.

Certain formalities that Americans are unaware of could leave you accidentally insulting new friends without ever understanding what you did wrong. Research polite behavioral standards for your host country and know before you go. Learn basic phrases in your host country’s language if it is not English. Small steps like this make it easier to adapt to your new country and help make your cultural adjustment less stressful.

Visiting Doctors Abroad

Using Your Health Insurance Abroad

If you require medical assistance while abroad, please follow these steps:

  1. Identify a participating provider or hospital through your GeoBlue app or on www.geobluestudents.com. You will be able to make an appointment directly through the app or website and start your request for Direct Pay at the same time.
  2. After making the appointment, contact GeoBlue with the appointment details and they will start to arrange a guarantee of payment through Direct Pay. This can be done over-the-phone, through e-mail, through your Member Hub online, or via the GeoBlue app.  For optimal service, request Direct Pay 48-hours in advance of your appointment.

If Direct Pay is not set up in advance, you may be required to pay any co-payments, coinsurance, or deductibles upfront.

 What’s Next?

In the event that you were not able to set up Direct Pay before you doctor’s visit, make sure you keep all receipts and medical records from your appointment.  You will be able to file a claim through the GeoBlue app or online in order to be reimbursed for your health care costs.

Contingency Planning

International travel and study abroad provide unique opportunities for personal growth, but at the same time can entail certain risks that would not be found at the University of Missouri.  These plans will cover some cases of risk and what you can do to be prepared before you leave and while abroad.

Missed Flights or Connections

The top rules for booking international flights are to ensure that you have more than enough time between connections to make your flights in case of delay, and to arrive at the airport more than two hours ahead of your scheduled departure.

In the event that you would miss your international flight or a connection to your study abroad location, do not panic!  As long as you have arrived at the airport and checked-in for your flight within two hours of your departure time, most airlines will be able to accommodate you at no additional charge.  Once you know that you are going to miss your flight or connection, alert your program coordinator ASAP so they are aware of your status.

If this happens to you, the first step is to go to the nearest rebooking desk within the airport terminal.  At this time, you may want to go ahead and call the airline as well so you can start working with them on getting you rebooked on the next flight or via a different route if the line in long.  Make sure you also work with them to identify your luggage and have it rerouted according to your new flight plan.

After you have a final rebooked flight, send the flight details to your program coordinator.  If possible, they will assist with transfer arrangements for you to arrive at your program location from the airport.

Getting Separated

This can happen easily when traveling in large groups.  Follow these steps to ensure you don’t get separated from your group, but if it does occur here is what to do if it happens to you.

Avoid Getting Separated

  • No one travels alone, have partners to make sure everyone gets where they need to go safely
  • Pay extra attention when in large crowded areas to stay with the group
  • If you must stop to take pictures or need the restrooms or whatever, tell someone in charge! The group will slow down or stop if necessary.

You Got Lost… Now What?

  • As soon as you realize you are separated from the group, call the program coordinator or a TA. Return to a recognizable spot from the tour and let the coordinator or TA know where you are.
  • The coordinator or a TA will come to get you and reunite you with the group.
  • If you are separated or lost at night, contact the program coordinator, a TA, or someone out with you before you were separated. Pin drop your location or wait for someone to return for you.

Disaster and Emergency Preparedness

First and foremost, if your site location experiences a natural disaster, terrorist threat, or other emergency, and you are injured or are involved in a serious accident, seek medical attention immediately.  Your health and safety should remain a top priority.  Program coordinators will assist in these matters, however possible, as the crisis unfolds.

  • Assess your surroundings for safety, and when possible, return to your housing or any other designated meeting place.
  • If you are not in class or with your program coordinator, contact them immediately with your whereabouts if it is safe to do so.
  • Wait in your safe space until you receive further instruction from your program coordinator or other designated staff.
  • Program coordinators will be in contact with the International Center at MU and U.S. Embassy or Consulate staff, if needed, and will continue to update you as the situation changes.

Remain calm and follow all instructions provided by your program coordinator until the emergency has ended.


Before returning to the United States and continuing to any connecting flights, students must first pass through U.S. Customs and Border Protection.  While this process may seem intimidating, it really is quite simple and can be even easier if you plan ahead.

  • Download the U.S. Custom’s app, Mobile Pass, and upload all your passport details before you leave on your program. This app is now accepted at most international hub airports, and will typically cut your wait time in the customs’ lines by more than half.  (The average wait time in the Mobile Pass line is less than 10 minutes.)
  • Once you have landed back in the United States, create a new declaration through the app or fill out the customs declaration form provided to you on the airplane. (You will not need to do both!)
    • Do not create the declaration through your mobile pass until you have landed back in the United States, as the receipt will only be valid for up to six hours and most international flights are longer.
  • Take your passport and the receipt on your phone to the Mobile Passport line, or take your passport and completed customs declarations form to the U.S. Passport holder lines. The passport control officer may ask you some questions before stamping your passport and granting your re-entry into the United States.
  • Pass through to the baggage claim area where you will retrieve your checked luggage. (If you did not check any baggage, you may skip this part of the customs’ process.)
  • Bring your baggage through the customs security checkpoint and refer back to your customs form or Mobile Pass receipt to go through.
  • Once you are cleared, continue through to the baggage drop area. You will once again leave your checked luggage with an airline attendant and may then proceed to your next departing gate.
    • You will likely have to go through standard airport security again, so please keep all necessary documentation on you for this process.
  • If you have a return flight that departs from Ireland directly back to the United States, you will likely go through the U.S. Customs process before boarding the first flight. Because of this, you need to allow an additional half an hour at the airport so you can clear customs in either Shannon or Dublin airports.
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