Cultures & Customs

culture photo by tinou bao on Flickr <>

Cultures and customs all over the world are distinctive and unique to each country. Many factors — including, but not limited to, environmental, social, economic, technological, political, religious, artistic, and/or educational — help contribute and shape this diversity. By learning and distinguishing between different cultures and customs, you will be well-prepared for adapting in new environments.

Some things to remember:

  • To succeed in your new environment, you will need to be resourceful, broad-minded, willing to learn from your mistakes, and determined to stay
  • Learn about and respect local customs and cultures
  • Be ready to experience some level of cultural adjustment as you transition to a new culture


Before Leaving

Before leaving, students should consider the potential differences at each individual destination they are planning to travel to in order to be prepared for all facets of culture.  Be aware that attitudes towards individual differences including gender, homosexuality, religion, and race may not be the same in all countries. Discrimination may exist in your host culture that you are not familiar with.

For information on cultural do’s and don’ts in different countries, visit the Country Insights page on the Centre for Intercultural Learning website. For additional information on travelling as a woman and/or about LGBTQIA issues, please review the ‘YOU Abroad’ tab.


pre-depart <>

Culture Shock

For students studying abroad, the transition of adjusting to your host culture may take some time. Students might experience culture shock and feel frustrated as laws, customs, and gestures once taken for granted may no longer apply. For a better understanding of the transitions and symptoms of culture shock, and possible strategies for minimizing it, take a look at the Glogster below (click to expand):



As students return from their study abroad experience, their expectations and/or idealized view on familiar surroundings may differ from reality.  This incongruence is called reverse culture shock, and students may have to re-adapt to their home surroundings again.  To learn more about the 4 stages of reverse culture shock and suggestions to counteract it, please view the Glogster below (click to expand):



Click here to expand the presentation.