While You're Abroad | University of Portland

While You're Abroad

Life in your Host Community

Immersing yourself in another culture can be rewarding, inspiring, and exciting, but it can also be frustrating. While abroad, you will have to navigate seemingly everyday tasks like shopping, eating out, and transportation in a new culture and/or language. Learn as much as you can before you arrive, and then commit to experiencing rather than witnessing life in your host community. While it may be challenging, use the language and customs as much as possible to show your respect for the culture you are living in.

Dagan Kay

Dagan Kay - Class of 2019
B.A. Philosophy & E-Scholar, Salzburg Year 2016-17

"I tried to always reach below the surface. See one or two touristy things, sure, but we tried to spend as much time in the back streets, local markets, weird places and with people our own age as possible. Those were always the best moments."

Learn more about the Salzburg Year Program

Alex Peterson

Alex Peterson - Class of 2019
BBA Finance, Tokyo Summer 2017

"I’ve always been a foodie, so one of my favorite things in Japan was the cuisine. I loved going around to as many of Tokyo’s ramen shops as possible and tasting all the different bowls they served. In addition to being delicious, it was a great way to connect with culture and participate in a core part of everyday life for the locals. Of everything from my time in Japan, the ramen is the thing I miss the most!"

Learn more about Summer Programs

Kendall Boland

Kendall Boland - Class of 2019
Elementary Education, Australia Fall 2017

"A fellow UP student wrote this and it is the best study abroad advice I have heard: 'Life abroad is just that, life. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes it’s bad and sometimes it’s incredible. Don’t expect every moment to be an Australian moment, but cherish them when they happen.'"

Learn more about the Australia Semester Program

Your host community may have different values, beliefs, or expectations than you, from religion and special diets to race and sexuality. Consult the following resources for tips and guidelines for navigating life abroad and these complex dialogues. 

More than just a chance to live internationally, studying abroad is an opportunity for you to engage with, learn from, and be a part of a different culture and way of life. Take advantage of the cultural and linguistic opportunities that your host community has to offer, whether that means joining a sports team, singing with a local choir, volunteering, or hosting a language exchange group.

Explore more resources for intercultural engagement and learning 

Budgeting & Finances

Though living abroad can be expensive, you can prepare and extend your funding by developing a budget for your time abroad. 

For more information on financing your study abroad experience, visit Affording Study Abroad. 

Academics Abroad

Though being immersed in a new culture is in itself an incredible learning experience, the "study" aspect of studying abroad can be a challenging transition. Many of the resources available to students in Portland are also available while they are abroad. For guidelines on using the library and other resources abroad, as well as tips on cultural immersion, language learning, and maximizing your time abroad, explore the Study Abroad Topic Guide created by Clark Library, linked below. 

Explore the Study Abroad Topic Guide

Mental Health While Abroad

Most students who study abroad expect to quickly adapt to the new culture. However, it is important to recognize that moving to a different country for an academic term can mean a number of transitions, including changes in a student’s social support network, daily routine, and familiar environment. These changes may cause stress and anxiety, which is a normal part of the adjustment process. For those needing support to navigate these changes, talking about your feelings with others, keeping a journal, and connecting to others who have studied abroad or experienced culture shock can be good options. 

UP students who may be struggling with the adjustment process or other mental health concerns while abroad can access the Health and Counseling Center by calling 503.943.7134 and selecting Option 3.

The most important goal for students who are prone to struggles with mental health is to keep stress levels as low as possible. This begins with good self-care. Eating well, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and establishing a routine are especially important. It is also important to set aside time for quiet and relaxation. Deep breathing, stretching, yoga, and listening to relaxing music can slow down the physical symptoms of stress and anxiety.


Clare Kessi

Clare Kessi - Class of 2020

"My advice to students going abroad would be this: Don't beat yourself up about not feeling super happy 100% of the time. Just because you're in an amazing place does not mean your emotions can only be amazing. Express, don't suppress. Let yourself have your own experience. Try not to compare with others. As long as you are happy doing what you're doing, you're 'doing it right.' "

Safety and Security

The safety and security of our students are an essential part of the Studies Abroad mission, but the success of that mission also relies on the vigilance and preparedness of students. To stay safe while abroad, keep the following in mind: 

  • Be familiar with local laws and regulations, and obey them at all times.
  • Be aware of any travel advisories posted by the U.S. Department of State. Conditions in many countries can change quickly, so check in before traveling and while abroad.  
  • Keep an eye on your belongings at all times, avoid crowded areas when possible, and do not travel with excessive amounts of cash or valuables.

More on Health and Safety While Abroad

If you are abroad and in need of emergency assistance, please call:

ASSIST AMERICA (part of CISI insurance coverage for all UP students): +1.609.986.1234

UP Campus Safety: +1.503.943.4444