Those of you who made it to this stage of your sojourn, the preparation stage has been successfully completed. You have been accepted to participate in the program of your dreams and made it to your destination. The new surroundings of your accommodation are familar by now, you met your new neighbors and, following the on-site orientation, began classes with your the locals, other international students or with your CUA peers.
We hope that all of you will be exploring the host country by taking trips on the weekends in addition to traveling to other exciting destinations during the school breaks or going on excursions organized by your program. Please do not forget to take the time to thoroughly discover your host city and your host country and meet with locals every chance you get. It is sometimes more satisfying to try and truly become part of the life at your host country and institution than to constantly chase weekend trips to other nearby destinations with your friends from home where you will only be a tourist.
While abroad, take advantage of the cultural riches that await, sample the local food and just enjoy yourself and your new surroundings. Discover the similarities and differences between customs and cultures, trying not to offend those whose views are different from your own. As time goes by, you will develop a deeper, more informed understanding of the local culture that goes beyond stereotypes. It is also likely that you gain a renewed appreciation for your own country.
Your friends and family will miss you but some will visit you during your program. If that happens, you have the chance to show them your adapted home town.
Staying in touch is not that big a deal these days when you can use your local cell phone, Skype, Facebook, and social media to stay connected. You can post your photos and blog about your experience for others to see on the web. But please remember why you are there in the first place: to get to know the country and its people, to learn or perfect your language skills so don't spend too much time connecting with people back at home. They will still be there when you get back home and you will have all those stories to share with them!
I listed a few resources that will be helpful to you during your journey and reminders of information you received before you left CUA. If you need us, we will be here for you. You are still registered as a full-time student attending CUA and as a guest student overseas. Most of the important announcements will be sent to you to your CUA email so please be sure to read and respond so that you do not miss important deadlines.