Cultural Training for International Programs

"What's Up With Culture?" Online Training Course (Link to external website)

This material offers an opportunity to explore various aspects of intercultural communication and adjustment models that are known to impact upon all study abroad experiences. This is not a stand-alone, distance-learning course. Nor should it be a substitute for a University or program-based orientation or reentry program, if your institution has them available. When preparing to go abroad, you should take advantage of all study abroad meetings or program orientation briefings you can. Those offering country or culture-specific information and logistical support are especially valuable.

This resource guide for study abroad is organized around materials collected and developed over 30 years of offering cross-cultural training courses at the University of the Pacific, specifically the linked orientation and reentry courses of the School of International Studies (SIS). The site also includes materials adapted from the “Culture Matters” Peace Corps Workbook.

Learning Objectives - What will this course do?

This material was developed to support and enhance a study abroad student’s ability to make successful cultural adjustments both before going overseas and upon return home from study abroad. It was produced primarily for traditional-aged, undergraduate US-American University students. Those preparing to participate in a study abroad program will find the first seven sections useful while those who are about to, or have, returned home from an international program can turn to the final four sections. The focus is generally on the concept of culture and how it impacts upon one’s ability to understand and function in a new and unfamiliar environment.  It concentrates on the skills, attitudes and behaviors which all study abroad students, regardless of their specific destination, will find useful.

Site Structure

For ease of use, each section was designed to be self-contained. The sequence of the sections are not specifically designed to build upon the previous one; however, they make the most sense when viewed as a progression of ideas and concepts. While it is possible to jump around and sample them out-of-sequence, we recommend going through the materials in the order they are presented to gain the greatest benefit from the resources.

Credits & Contact

Dr. Bruce  La  Brack, Professor of Anthropology and International Studies at SIS, is the primary author and editor of the site. Additional information on the history of cross-cultural training at SIS, SIS course syllabi, and instructional support materials related to their study abroad curriculum can be accessed through the SAFETI (Safety Abroad First - Educational Travel Information) Clearinghouse maintained by the University of Southern California. The project was funded in part by a U.S. Department of Education FIPSE (Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education) grant from 2000-2003.


Last Updated: 05/01/2022 19:04