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UVM Study Abroad Pre-Departure Guidebook

Section 2 Cross Cultural Issues

Cultural Sensitivity and Norms: Communicating, Dressing and Relationships

  • Be aware of cultural roles/expectations and prevailing attitudes about the U.S. This may make your time abroad easier.
  • Learn as much as possible about the culture and cultural differences in the areas of gender roles, verbal and non-verbal communication and dress.
  • Find out how dating and sexual activity are perceived. You may choose not to behave in the same way as local women and men do. However, knowing how they interact with one another is important and safe.
  • Know which non-verbal behaviors are considered inappropriate and which are commonly used. Eye contact in some cultures is considered an invitation, certain hand gestures, greeting by bowing, shaking hands or kissing.
  • Consider how you are dressing and communicating—are you easily identified as a U.S. citizen? Dress like locals and respect their customs. If you want to go out for a jog– think about appropriate dress.
  • Listen to and trust your instincts. While you want to adapt to a new culture, you also need to pay attention to what feels comfortable. It’s important to find a balance between maintaining your identity and respecting the culture you are visiting.

    Tips provided by the Women’s Center, the University of Vermont.

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Last modified April 26 2012 10:56 AM

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