Students learn study abroad etiquette

Sylvia Butanda

Females exposing their knees in public, which may be found offensive in areas of Sub-Saharan Africa, is an example of etiquette which students who plan on studying abroad must become familiar with, said Bryn Cain, program director for the UT International Office.

The third annual International Education Week hosted an etiquette workshop Friday in which students interested in study abroad were given tips and information on how to be successful when interacting with other cultures overseas.

Cain gave examples of what not to wear in certain parts of the world such as Turkey, where women are not allowed to wear headscarves in universities.

Computer science freshman Erika Mendez Morales said she was surprised that there are certain wardrobe choices that are unacceptable.

“We need to learn about cultures because if it were up to me, I would’ve worn whatever I felt like, but now I know that there are certain things we can and cannot wear in certain countries,” said Mendez.

Cain said just because you’re in a different country doesn’t mean you have to completely change who you are to integrate into the country’s culture.

“You need to find a happy medium between who you are in America and who you are in this other culture,” Cain said.

“When you do start to notice the cultural differences, be aware that it is okay to disagree but it helps to do them in a respectful way.”

However, Cain advised students that it is important for them to be knowledgeable of the culture and acceptable behavior of a country before they decide to live there in order for their experiences to be successful.

“Behavior that may seem harmless in your culture may be seen as totally different and weird in another country,” Cain said. “You never know what the repercussions are going to be, so it helps to know things and be aware before you
go places.”

Cain discussed the stereotype of loud, obnoxious American tourists and wants students studying abroad to set themselves apart from that image by being educated about the country they’re in.

“It’s a big part of etiquette where you’re not just representing yourself when going overseas, but you’re also representing your school, family and country,” Cain said.

Brian Bolton, Spanish and international relations sophomore, attended the presentation in order to get general information on how to prepare for his trip studying abroad next semester in Madrid.

Bolton has travelled abroad before and has dealt with situations discussed in the presentation.

“As an American, you try not to make yourself that identifiable, and you try to assimilate in any sort of way for your own safety and enjoyment purposes,” Bolton said.

Printed on Monday, November 21, 2011 as: Students learn study abroad etiquette rules in workshop