Study Abroad Courses : Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are the courses required in order to go on a study abroad program at SLU?
A: SLU’s Study Abroad Office doesn’t require students to take the pre-departure and re-entry courses, however, they do encourage students to consider the courses. Students who do take the courses view studying abroad as more than a chance to bring back great photos and memories. They recognize it as a fantastic opportunity to expand their perspective on the world and gain greater cross-cultural competence. These students want to be ready to be cultural explorers.
Q: Do I need to have a specific major to take the study abroad courses?
A: Students from all majors take the courses, which are cross-listed in Modern and Classical Languages and the Honors Program and are International Studies attributes.
Q: Do the study abroad courses apply towards the A&S Core Curriculum Requirement for Cultural Diversity?
A: Yes, by taking all three cross-cultural courses (each 1 credit), you can satisfy the 3-hour A&S Cultural Diversity requirement.
Q: Since the application deadlines for SA programs come after the semester begins, I may not be sure which country I’ll be studying in. Can I still take the pre-departure course?
A: Definitely, many students are unsure when the course starts. Homework that relates to the country you’ll be going to is assigned only in the second half of the semester after the SA Office deadlines.
Q: When should I take the pre-departure course?
A: Ideally you would take Cross-Cultural Preparation for SA the semester immediately before the semester you will be going abroad. So, if you’re planning on a program in the fall, you take the pre-departure courses in the spring. However, you certainly can take the pre-departure course even earlier and advisers encourage this if a student’s course load will be too heavy later on.
Q: How is the pre-departure course Cross-Cultural Preparation for SA taught and structured?
A: I describe my teaching method as storytelling: storytelling through my 25 years of living in other countries, film, literature, stories of international students, past study abroad participants, and of guest speakers. The syllabus has 3 sections: the first on culture, the second on encountering an American self, and the third on skills for cross-cultural encounters. In the first section, we consider concepts that describe influences on behavior in societies. In the second section, we delve into what does being an American personally mean to students and just what do they want to represent. In the last section on skills for cross-cultural encounters, we look at language and how to improve speaking. Furthermore, we consider how to react when confronted with questions such as: Why are Americans so pushy? Why aren’t you serving in Iraq? Why is America the most racist country in the world? How do you react?
Q: If students going on all different SA programs are in the pre-departure course, how do I learn about the specific country I’ll be studying in?
A: Country-specific knowledge, including basic information about daily life and government, is acquired through the homework assignments in the second half of the semester.
Q: Why would I want to take the 1-credit Cross-Cultural Inquiry for SA in addition to the 1-credit Cross-Cultural Preparation for SA?
A: Because Cross-Cultural Preparation for SA is only 1 credit, the class meets once a week for 50 minutes. Some students, who sign up for this course, have the extra time in their overall schedules to do additional work on culture and becoming knowledgeable about their country than required. Thus they simultaneously take the Inquiry for SA that adds a 1-credit independent study component to the preparation course syllabus. Another plus is that students who take the two 1-credit pre-departure courses then have the possibility of satisfying the A&S Cultural Diversity core requirement by also taking the 1-credit Cross-Cultural Re-Entry from SA course upon their return to St. Louis.
Q: I’ll be returning to SLU next semester and my schedule already looks heavy. What should I know about the re-entry course in order to decide whether to take it?
A: The course runs for nine weeks, starting in the third week of the semester and finishing early, and meets weekly on Tuesday, 3:45-5:00pm. Being abroad, you know that you are living in another world and that you move to a different rhythm than in the States. You feel like another person than the one who left, even if that was only 5 weeks ago. The re-entry course will give you a place to relive your life abroad in order to extract lasting imprints from everything that touched you. What aspects do you simply refuse to give up? What hanging questions and incomprehensible feelings shadow you? Do you see your study abroad sojourn as a story of taking off? The personal experiences of the students in the class shape how we approach themes to contemplate. These themes include having a kaleidoscopic identity, cultural prisms - yours and theirs, transience, leaving and arriving, human connections and chasms, being an American and citizen of the world, cultural flows and contamination.