Cultural Exchange

Being a Cultural Ambassador

A cultural exchange is a two-way interaction. Be open to learning from others in your destination as well as sharing about your home country and customs.

Remember, when you travel abroad under university auspices, you are representing UW-Madison and travelers from your home.

Tips for Safely Adjusting to a New Location

  • Nothing beats firsthand experience in a country, so seek out others who have visited your destination for advice. See Conversations with Travelers for travel advice from fellow Badgers.
  • After reaching your destination, allow yourself a couple days to adjust to the new location and potential time zone change and get a feel for the local area.
  • When you arrive at your new “home,” examine the safety and security of your room (e.g., door and window locks, fire alarms, fire escapes, etc.) Think about how you would get out of the building and how you would secure your room if needed. The layout may be different than what you are used to.
  • Look into your room before entering each time you return. If it does not look right, get others before entering.
  • Pay attention to the local dress and mannerisms in your destination so you are less likely to stand out in crowds. Learn faux pas, so you can avoid them. It may help to research these before you go.
  • Every individual’s experience is unique. See Identity Abroad for tips and resources that may help you navigate your experience abroad.


Learning from Locals

Adjusting to new surroundings can be tough. Remain extra vigilant until you develop a better “feel” for the local culture and community. 

As you settle into your new home, be sure to learn how to respond in an emergency (e.g., fire, natural disaster, or other threat). Know how to call for help and get out of the home quickly.

The world is not in your books and maps, it's out there.

J. R. R. Tolkien