We recommend these resources to all Vassar students planning on studying abroad, whether for a summer, a semester, or a year:
- Peace Corps workbook http://www.peacecorps.gov/wws/publications/culture/. This free online workbook is a terrific, easy to follow guide to help people learn, understand, and appreciate what it means to live in a new culture. The document downloads as an easily navigable pdf file.
- Geert Hofstede's dimensions of culture http://www.geert-hofstede.com/hofstede_dimensions.php Hofstede provides online an useful tool for comparing how the characteristics generally true of a host culture relate to those of your home culture. You plug in your home culture and the host culture(s) you will be visiting, and you see a chart comparing scores. Go to the resource page for a quick rundown of the five dimensions. Remember that this tool generalizes characteristics and there are likely to be wide variances among individuals.
- Acquiring intercultural competence (ICC) is viewed as an important outcome of the study abroad experience, as well as a vital tool for your resume and your career after Vassar. http://www.sit.edu/SITOccasionalPapers/feil_appendix_f.pdf contains a list of resources that help provide an entry into learning more about ICC. Check with our office or the CDO upon your return for how to leverage these skills to your benefit.
- Talk to a Vassar student who has either travelled to or is from the country you are visiting! We can help make connections if you are interested in doing so.