Stephen F. Austin State University

Students

Your Options for Studying Abroad

SFA sponsors a variety of undergraduate and graduate study abroad programs that can be grouped into three options (please see below for more details on each option):

You should select a program that's right for you given your own needs, interests, and abilities. Shop around and collect enough information so you're satisfied you've made an informed decision.

Here are some more details about each type of Study Abroad program at SFA:

Faculty-led Programs

During the Winter and Spring break and May and Summer terms students are able to take advantage of unique courses offered by SFA faculty. Typically one or two professors and 25 students will travel together for 2 to 4 week. Students can receive 3 to 6 hours of credit per program and scholarships are available!

Current Programs: We are accepting applications for the 2014 Faculty led Programs.

Apply! To apply to any of the programs, please download and submit the faculty-led-program application package to the Office of International Programs. Check out the 2012 Faculty-led Programs page for application forms.

How to Pay: After acceptance into the program, students will receive an e-mail with payment instructions. No payments should be made before receiving this message. Although the program cost is placed on the student's account for the program term, it will not be possible to make online payments. All payments are made directly in the Business Office on the second floor of the Austin Building. Program participants may pay by cash, check, money order, or credit card. The full amount may be paid at once or spread out based on the schedule indicated in the program brochure.

Student Handbook: This handbook was created in order to give you essential information prior to embarking on a study abroad experience. It does not and cannot cover every issue in-depth, but will serve as a resource to point you in the right direction.

International Student Exchange Program

ISEP is a network of 275 universities in 39 countries. Students on ISEP programs pay tuition, room and board prior to leaving SFA and receive the same benefits at their host institution. Furthermore, this payment at SFA creates a space for an international student to study at our institution for a semester or a year. Students eligible to participate must have completed one academic year of study. ISEP requires a minimum 2.75 GPA to apply however, some member universities require a higher GPA. Students may study at the member university for a semester or a year, while some universities offer summer programs. The ISEP program is designed as an immersion experience. You will most likely be the only student from SFA, and one of the few from the U.S. at the host university. For more information visit www.isep.org

Do I need to know a foreign language?

ISEP offers many options to study in English or in a foreign language. In some cases, if students study in a non-English speaking country, the course work will be in the native language. Many universities in non-English speaking countries do offer programs in English. If taking courses in a foreign language, students will need to have completed at least four-five semesters of language courses before applying to the program. Some countries require additional study and some programs offer foreign language support during the academic year or intensive language programs prior to the start of the semester. For more information on language considerations visit http://www.isep.org/students/US_students/language_considerations.asp

Apply! Placement depends upon space available at the host university. The application deadline is September 1 for the Spring term and February 1 for the Fall semester. Our office sends all applications to ISEP. Please be aware that if you plan to apply to ISEP, you need to start working on your application the semester before your application deadline. Students will also have to submit the SFA Study Abroad Application Package.

ISEP Application http://www.isep.org/students/Apply/how_to_apply.asp

How to Pay: Students pay to SFA the ISEP program fee that is based on SFA tuition, fees, room and board. The extra costs to consider include ISEP application fee, mandatory health insurance, passport and immigration fees, airfare, spending money, personal travel and textbooks.

Course Approval Form (CAF): How will the credit(s) you earn abroad count toward your degree plan? The form constitutes an agreement that specific courses taken abroad (assuming you successfully complete the work!) will satisfy specific major/minor/general education program requirements at SFA. It also specifies how the credit(s) will appear on your SFA transcript. Students need to submit to OIP a copy of their CAF.

Please remember that you must request that the host institution send an official transcript to the Office of International Programs (P.O. Box 6152, SFA Station, Nacogdoches, TX 75962-USA).

Student Handbook: This handbook was created in order to give you essential information prior to embarking on a study abroad experience. It does not and cannot cover every issue in-depth, but will serve as a resource to point you in the right direction.

Non-SFA Programs

Non-SFA programs are for students who wish to study in a country or subject area not covered by any of SFA's study abroad options. Thousands of study abroad programs exist, so make sure to look only at those that offer credit from an accredited university. Language schools are not acceptable unless they are able to issue a transcript through an accredited university.

Non-SFA programs include three general categories:

The following websites provide helpful information while searching for programs by city, country, language or subject:

Apply! Most applications are due the semester before you study abroad, but some programs have earlier deadlines! It is your responsibility to see that the application is complete. You can receive help with the application process by contacting the Study Abroad Coordinator. Students must submit the following to study abroad through a non-SFA program:

Course Approval Form (CAF): How will the credit(s) you earn abroad count toward your degree plan? The form constitutes an agreement that specific courses taken abroad (assuming you successfully complete the work!) will satisfy specific major/minor/general education program requirements at SFA. It also specifies how the credit(s) will appear on your SFA transcript. Students need to submit to OIP a copy of their CAF. Please remember that you must request that the host institution send an official transcript to the Office of International Programs (P.O. Box 6152, SFA Station, Nacogdoches, TX 75962-USA).

Student Handbook: This handbook was created in order to give you essential information prior to embarking on a study abroad experience. It does not and cannot cover every issue in-depth, but will serve as a resource to point you in the right direction.

Decide, Prepare, and Get Going!

Discuss your interests and plans with your parents or other family members

Your family is a great resource for information and support. Make sure you involve them from the beginning.

Meet with your Dean, Academic Adviser, or another faculty member

Selecting a study abroad program is an important academic decision. We strongly encourage you to consult with a faculty member on campus as part of your program selection process to discuss your interests, plans and courses you'd like to take abroad.

Meet with the Admissions office

You should be aware that the application of credits toward major requirements is a departmental decision. Talk with admissions to see if the credits you want to take abroad are transferable to your specific degree plan at SFA.

Scholarships/Financial Aid

There are several scholarships that support study/research abroad. You're encouraged to apply for any awards that you're eligible for. Here are some ideas of available scholarships: CIEE Travel Grants for Educational Programs in Developing Countries; DAAD Scholarship Program; Freeman Asia Scholarship; Fulbright Scholarships; Gilman International Scholarship Program; IIEE Japan Exchange and Teaching Program; NSEP Undergraduate Scholarships; Rhodes Scholarship; Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarship.

Don't forget to apply for the OIP Study Abroad Scholarship (this is included in your application packet). If you qualify for or currently receive financial aid, contact a Financial Aid Counselor at the Office for Financial Aid on campus, to discuss the procedures for applying your SFA financial aid towards your study abroad program costs.

Address health & safety issues

Study abroad is not risk free. Identify your own health needs. It's up to you to make an informed decision about the relative risks associated with travel to any particular place around the world. Read carefully any information about health and safety provided by your program. You may also check out the National Center for Infectious Diseases web site to receive information on any required or recommended vaccinations. Make sure you have adequate health insurance coverage while you're abroad.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

Read up on the history, politics, economics, and cultural aspects of the place(s) you're going. Talk with former participants and students from that country. Make sure you have your passport and any necessary visas. Make any necessary travel reservations and purchase any necessary tickets for your study abroad. You may contact the Study Abroad Coordinator for help.

Check the Pre-Departure Section of our web site to make sure you haven't forgotten anything!

Now...Get Going!

Now that you're ready, go abroad and have a great experience! Don't forget to have your transcript sent back to SFA at the end of your program.

Culture Shock and Adjustment

What is Culture Shock?

Leaving home and traveling to study in a new country can be a stressful experience. Even though it may be something you have planned and prepared for, the extent of the change and the effects studying abroad can have on you may take you by surprise.

"Culture shock" describes the impact of moving from a familiar culture to one which is unfamiliar. It is an experience familiar to anyone who has traveled abroad to live, work, or study. It can even affect people who are just overseas on a brief holiday. The effects result from the stresses of a new environment, meeting lots of new people, and learning the language and the ways of a different culture. Culture shock also can come from the ordeal of being separated from your friends, family, colleagues, and other people you would normally talk to in times of uncertainty. When familiar sights, sounds, taste, and smells are suddenly no longer there, you may find yourself missing them very much and feeling miserable in your new surroundings. If. This is a completely normal part of living in a new culture, and should be embraced rather than feared. After all, the fact that you are experiencing culture shock means that you are getting out of your comfort zone, learning, and growing. According to a study aconducted by the University of Minnesota, a reason that some students do NOT experience culture shock is because they surround themselves with friends and food from their home culture rather than exploring their host country. If you don't want to experience life abroad, why leave home? Although each person experiences culture shock to some degree, it is important to remember that it is a very personal experience and affects each individual differently. There are some general phases, however, that can be used to describe the cycle of cross-cultural adjustment.

Stage 1: Initial Euphoria

You arrive in your study abroad location and everything seems exciting and different. The food is exotic, the architecture is unique, and you're interested in all the new sights around you. You tend to be more in-tune to the visible aspects of your new culture, and don't see the hidden differences. This phase is one in which most tourists remain during a short visit to a new country.

Stage 2: Cultural Confrontation

Your initial excitement diminishes as the process of cultural adjustment begins. Everything seems much more difficult than it is at home, and even getting to and from class without losing your way is a major accomplishment. Communication is challenging, even if you are living in an English-speaking country! As you have more interaction with your new culture, you become frustrated with differences, particularly those you don't understand. Things you may find challenging in your host country include concepts of time, personal space, meal schedules and food, gender relations, and the need to walk or use public transportation. Homesickness emerges as you long for the food, friends, and conveniences of home. You have mood swings as you fluctuate from enthusiasm to frustration with your host culture. You may find yourself gravitating towards other foreign students, as they can relate to your challenges. While these friends can provide a great support system, you should also attempt to develop friendships with people from your host country.

Stage 3: Cultural Adjustment

You slowly develop strategies for coping with cultural differences. You learn to observe those around you, and to be open-minded. You identify a cultural informant (a friend, host family member, or program director) who can help you better understand aspects of your new culture. You regain your sense of humor, and take pride in small accomplishments. While other foreign students continue to be friends, you also make efforts to meet members of your host country. While you continue to experience challenges, you feel more comfortable and confident in your host culture.

Stage 4: Cultural Adaptation

You now feel comfortable in your host country, and have established a routine. You have integrated aspects of your host culture into your daily life, and have developed an appreciation for differences. You are able to communicate more easily, and have made friends. While you look forward to seeing friends and family at the end of your program, you know that you will miss living abroad.

Stage 5: Cultural Re-adaptation: Returning Home

Upon your return home, you may find that you pass through all of the above cycles again. At first, you're thrilled to see familiar faces and places. You don't expect to have any problems readjusting; after all, you are home. You find, however, that you miss aspects of your host culture. You see your home culture in a new light. You have changed, and so have your family and friends. You struggle to describe your study abroad experience to those who hope for a one-sentence response. You find yourself gravitating to other study abroad returnees, as they understand what you are going through. Eventually, you reconcile your new self and your old life, and identify ways in which to keep your study abroad experience alive.

Past study abroad participants have identified the following suggestions for students adapting to a new culture:

If you or a friend experience severe symptoms of culture shock such as repeated risky behavior, depression, or personality changes, please let a staff member know immediately.