• October 31, 2014
October 31, 2014, 6:45:25 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with your Chronicle username and password
News: Talk online about your experiences as an adjunct, visiting assistant professor, postdoc, or other contract faculty member.
 
Pages: [1] 2
  Print  
Author Topic: Tips for Leading a Study Abroad Course?  (Read 18206 times)
canuckois
Thrower of Insults, Smearer of Characters, and a
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 2,744


« on: March 22, 2012, 5:03:43 PM »

I'm leading a 4-week study abroad trip to Italy this summer, which will be a new (and possibly terrifying!) experience for me.  I'll be the only leader, with 15 students total.  Fortunately, I'm working with a company over there that specializes in such trips, so they're handling most of the logistics.  I'm wondering, though, if those who have led study abroad classes overseas might have some wisdom to share.   Are there things you wish you'd known before you embarked on this?  Lessons learned? 
Logged

Your opinions are welcome, of course, unless they suck, in which case the Fora will reward you with snark, if all goes well.
wegie
Unemployed & unemployable
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 11,617


« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2012, 6:38:57 PM »

Beware of the drinking age. Have a policy for what happens when they turn up in the morning either still completely blotto or so hungover they're an interesting shade of green. Make sure you know what will happen if one of them gets really sick.

This advert was brought to you by somebody who lives in a town with an overseas US university that has a well-deserved reputation as somewhere that you go to because you can get drunk.
Logged
canuckois
Thrower of Insults, Smearer of Characters, and a
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 2,744


« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2012, 7:01:38 PM »

Beware of the drinking age. Have a policy for what happens when they turn up in the morning either still completely blotto or so hungover they're an interesting shade of green. Make sure you know what will happen if one of them gets really sick.

This advert was brought to you by somebody who lives in a town with an overseas US university that has a well-deserved reputation as somewhere that you go to because you can get drunk.

Thanks, Wegie.  Yes, we're having the alcohol conversation next week.  My university and the company we're working with both have strict policies related to alcohol (not that this will necessary stop students from drinking, but it gives me all kinds of leverage in dealing with it).  And yes, I'll have all the numbers I need to call in case of emergency.  (That was a terrifying orientation session.)
Logged

Your opinions are welcome, of course, unless they suck, in which case the Fora will reward you with snark, if all goes well.
untenured
On far too many committees
Member-Moderator
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 6,078


« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2012, 7:45:47 PM »

I led a study abroad trip to Italy as well.

Here's what will happen: They will get pickpocketed, show up to class drunk, ignore the work assigned, throw up in the street, get tossed out and left in the gutter at night when they fall unconscious in a bar, bring men/women home and have sex with them while their roommate tries to sleep five feet away, complain when their one-night Italian sexual partner robs them blind while they sleep, get mugged, get lost, get food poisoning, whine to their parents who hold you responsible, fill their kitchen with vodka bottles, trash their residence, ignore overwhelming cultural opportunities, shun chances to interact with locals, dress like stereotypical college jocks (men), sport clothing so skimpy that no Italian woman would be caught dead wearing it (women), sing "Don't Stop Believing" at the top of their lungs in chorus in the middle of the night provoking neighbors to call the police, have sex on the balcony of their apartment, lose their keys, lose their passports, lose their virginity, talk too loud in museums and restaurants, get ripped off by tourist traps, screw up public transport, never learn Italian except for a disgustingly Americanized 'gratzeeyay', and complain about the slightest inconvenience to their alcohol-fueled, narrow-minded, immediate-gratification view of the world.

So have a good time.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2012, 7:47:46 PM by untenured » Logged

Quote from: kedves link=topic=56697.msg1152543#msg1152543
You are among the Pure and Truthful, however small their Number.
My goodness, that was an exceptionally good analysis of the forum.
goldenapple
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 1,667


« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2012, 8:01:20 PM »

I led a study abroad trip to Italy as well.

Here's what will happen: They will get pickpocketed, show up to class drunk, ignore the work assigned, throw up in the street, get tossed out and left in the gutter at night when they fall unconscious in a bar, bring men/women home and have sex with them while their roommate tries to sleep five feet away, complain when their one-night Italian sexual partner robs them blind while they sleep, get mugged, get lost, get food poisoning, whine to their parents who hold you responsible, fill their kitchen with vodka bottles, trash their residence, ignore overwhelming cultural opportunities, shun chances to interact with locals, dress like stereotypical college jocks (men), sport clothing so skimpy that no Italian woman would be caught dead wearing it (women), sing "Don't Stop Believing" at the top of their lungs in chorus in the middle of the night provoking neighbors to call the police, have sex on the balcony of their apartment, lose their keys, lose their passports, lose their virginity, talk too loud in museums and restaurants, get ripped off by tourist traps, screw up public transport, never learn Italian except for a disgustingly Americanized 'gratzeeyay', and complain about the slightest inconvenience to their alcohol-fueled, narrow-minded, immediate-gratification view of the world.

So have a good time.

Hey, I remember that trip. I think it is unfair of you to criticize people for having noisy sex in the dorms and one-night stands with thieving Italians and then claim that those same people shunned contact with the locals. Some of us just have a different idea of intercultural rapprochement.

But seriously, canuckois, I've used some of the pre-departure materials from CIEE to discuss these kinds of issues with students. This essay, for example, addresses a number of the issues of behavior and dress:
http://www.ciee.org/study-abroad/advisors/ciee-eye.aspx
Logged
hoptoad
across that road
Junior member
**
Posts: 67


« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2012, 12:20:56 PM »

Here's what will happen: They will get pickpocketed, show up to class drunk, ignore the work assigned, throw up in the street, get tossed out and left in the gutter at night when they fall unconscious in a bar, bring men/women home and have sex with them while their roommate tries to sleep five feet away, complain when their one-night Italian sexual partner robs them blind while they sleep, get mugged, get lost, get food poisoning, whine to their parents who hold you responsible, fill their kitchen with vodka bottles, trash their residence, ignore overwhelming cultural opportunities, shun chances to interact with locals, dress like stereotypical college jocks (men), sport clothing so skimpy that no Italian woman would be caught dead wearing it (women), sing "Don't Stop Believing" at the top of their lungs in chorus in the middle of the night provoking neighbors to call the police, have sex on the balcony of their apartment, lose their keys, lose their passports, lose their virginity, talk too loud in museums and restaurants, get ripped off by tourist traps, screw up public transport, never learn Italian except for a disgustingly Americanized 'gratzeeyay', and complain about the slightest inconvenience to their alcohol-fueled, narrow-minded, immediate-gratification view of the world.

And you should avoid doing all these things, too.  Good luck, it'll be an enriching experience!
Logged
larryc
Troll Proof
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 22,998

Be excellent to each other.


WWW
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2012, 3:30:44 PM »

I took students to Cuba once, for 8 days. What really helped was 1) they took an 8 weke course on Cuban history and culture before we left, 2) they had research assignments to complete in Cuba--they worked in teams to research topics like "revolutionary propaganda" and transportation, 3) they new they would be doing presentations to the entire campus community when they returned.

Have fun with it. Also, be ready to send any troublemakers home. Have the mechanism for that set up before you leave.
Logged

Trolling for sex is not what this forum is all about.
canuckois
Thrower of Insults, Smearer of Characters, and a
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 2,744


« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2012, 11:23:25 AM »

Thanks for these replies!

Untenured, I'm pretty sure my students will be a little more disciplined than yours seem to have been -- they're not a particularly wild bunch.  I am, however, preparing myself for at least some of what you describe. 

Goldenapple, thanks for that link; there's some useful stuff in there.

Larry, yes, my students will be doing a fair bit of academic work both before we leave and while we're there.  The notion of some kind of presentation is a good one, though.
Logged

Your opinions are welcome, of course, unless they suck, in which case the Fora will reward you with snark, if all goes well.
secundem_artem
Stone cold humanist and finally a
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 1,538


« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2012, 12:34:37 AM »

The good news is that CIEE appears to be good at their jobs and they should be helpful. 

Beyond that, I've traveled repeatedly with smaller groups (6-8) of upper level professional students with remarkably few problems. I just got back with a large group - about 40 students and 8 or so adults/faculty/translators.  We had no problems.   But if you are traveling with FR or SO students, they may be less mature and more likely to act inappropriately.  Some thoughts:

I would suggest you see about getting a 2nd faculty member along on the trip - between your academic and chaperone duties, you will be on call 24/7 - it can be exhausting.  It helps if 1 faculty member is female since younger women may hesitate at discussing any health problems that may arise with a male.

They will want/need independent time to explore and unwind - build it in during the day and use evenings for reflections, discussions of next day's activities, overnight train to the next town  etc.  They may be less likely to get up to mischief during the day.

Set strict rules about alcohol and drugs.  Make the consequences explicit.  Have them sign a contract.  Tell them that if they want to meet Darth Vader, they should let you find them drunk or high.  Such acts will be treated as honor code or academic integrity violations.  This is STUDY abroad and Italy is your classroom.  If they want to party like it's 1999 then they should come on their own on vacation, not as part of a course.   larryc gives good advice on how to make sure they understand it's an academic course for credit, and not a vacation.

Have a medical pre-departure briefing too - what things to bring for minor emergencies (Tylenol, Band-aids, antibiotic ointment, allergy pills, epi-pens for the seriously allergic, sunscreen, all personal medicines in labeled prescription bottles and perhaps condoms even)  Also - medical insurance while overseas.

Safety briefing is needed - their biggest risk is automobile accidents, but also issues with food and water safety, street crime, crimes against their property, not flashing cameras/money openly etc.  How much money to bring, using credit or ATM cards overseas, need for travel insurance

Check that passports don't expire while you are overseas and that if you have citizens of different countries in your group that you understand any visa requirements such students may need.

Have a plan for how to contact their families back home in case of emergency as well as your study abroad office on campus.  Bring a global services cell phone or purchase a local throw away while in Italy.  Be able to communicate readily back to the your uni at home.

Try and have as many meals or museum admissions etc pre-paid as a group.  It helps keep students on budget, lets you pay the meal cost rather than doling out per diem money to each student every day (some trips disburse student's fees for meals/travel back to the students daily on the trip)

Realize that "the bus leaves at 2pm" does not mean the same thing to everybody.  To some it means be there by 155, to others it means start thinking about going back to the bus around 2pm or so.  Count off students before the bus leaves - if they count in Italian (or Latin) it can be a bit more fun.

Avoid service learning where all you are doing is taking a job away from a local (e.g. building an orphanage) as well as the 'hug and orphan' aspects increasingly common on such trips.

All that said, the trip is far more likely to be exciting, fun and provide some great learning.  Plan well but have fun with it.  PM me f you want.
Logged

In my opinion, Secundem_artem is precisely correct. 

I think secundem_artem, rather, has hit the nail on the head.
canuckois
Thrower of Insults, Smearer of Characters, and a
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 2,744


« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2012, 11:04:51 AM »

Thanks, S_A, that's fantastic.
Logged

Your opinions are welcome, of course, unless they suck, in which case the Fora will reward you with snark, if all goes well.
ls410
Senior member
****
Posts: 498


« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2012, 11:35:19 AM »

I co-led a study abroad trip that went to a developed and a developing world country.  In spite of everything I told them, they seemed to only really think that crime was an issue in the developing world.  They walked around the European city with their cameras around their necks, their money pouches outside of their clothes, and ytalked loudly.  Luckily no one was pickpocketed (or worse) but I couldn't get them to realize that places can be dangerous even if the local population is white and rich.

When walking one faculty member tried to be the leader and the other tried to bring up the rear.  But nearly every outing, students would stop to take photos, look in store windows, tie their shoe, etc.  So inevitably the group would get separated by traffic lights - and sometimes it would end up that both faculty were on one side of the street and the students on the other.

Besides making the drug and alcohol policies clear, also think about your policies for going out in the evenings: Does everyone have to go together?  Leave together?  Can they walk or do they need to take taxis?  Do they know the name and address of the dorm/hotel?

And remember that no matter how much you plan for problems, things will still happen.  We had someone get an allergic reaction (rash) to a tropical fruit.  It's not something you can easily get in the US so we had no way to know she had an allergy.  Luckily I had cortisone in my bag so she was ok.
If
Logged
larryc
Troll Proof
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 22,998

Be excellent to each other.


WWW
« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2012, 12:57:25 PM »

Luckily I had cortisone in my bag so she was ok.

Which reminds me--have a plentiful first aid kit, with anti-diarrhea medicines, antihistamines, ibuprofen, band aids, sunscreen, sunburn cream, moleskin, etc.

Make every student create two photocopies of their passports and other vital documents. They are required to keep one in separate place from the passport itself. You keep the other.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2012, 12:57:41 PM by larryc » Logged

Trolling for sex is not what this forum is all about.
spork
If you are reading this, I am naked.
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 16,149


« Reply #12 on: April 02, 2012, 6:03:37 PM »

Insist that your university provide you with a prepaid cell phone capable of calling the USA, so that you can notify your study abroad office that Zach is now in the custody of the Italian police and that Kaitlyn is hospitalized with food poisoning and dehydration. Under no circumstances be the communication link between students and their parents.

Insist that two faculty members go on the trip. If your university will not agree, refuse to lead the trip. If you have already committed yourself, then refuse to go on any future trips as the solo faculty leader.

Insist that students keep their passports on their bodies when in transit, not in bags that get checked or loaded on the top of the bus/minivan. When at a hotel, passports go in the safe. Of course Jeremy will throw his passport into the bottom of the suitcase that gets forgotten and not be able to produce the passport when needed.

Have them sign a document before they leave that states that any electronic gear, pocketbooks, or other flashy items are likely to be stolen, that these items should be left at home, and that you are not responsible for such thefts should they occur during the trip.

Ditto to what others have said about drunkenness. Italy is thought of as a holiday destination where there are no limits on the alcohol that can be consumed (in students' minds).

Have them sign a document before they leave that states that anyone too cognitively impaired to learn due to drunkenness or a hangover will not be allowed to go on the day's excursion and will be left at the hotel. Then follow the policy as many times as needed, and provide regular reports of such to the study abroad office at your university.
Logged

a.k.a. gum-chewing monkey in a Tufts University jacket

"There are no bad ideas, only great ideas that go horribly wrong."

"Please do not force people who are exhausted to take medication for hallucinations." -- Memo from the Chair, Department of White Privilege Studies, Fiork University
brixton
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 3,130


« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2012, 4:05:04 PM »

Have them make a copy of the important first page of their passport and their air ticket (if you're travelling with them by air.)  Missing air tickets and passports can be a real problem, but with the passport number and air code, a good bucket shop can help you reissue the ticket for a small fee, and the embassy can fairly quickly re-issue a lost passport.  Make your students repeat at key places (when you leave a hotel or a day trip destination) the mantra:  Tickets/Money/Passport.  They should make sure they have acces to each one as they say it.  That way, you can help them narrow down where the object was lost and possibly avoid a visit to the embassy/bucket shop. 

One thing that is helpful for big groups (or sparse leaders) is to set up a mate-check system.  On the first day, have them get together in groups of 3 with 3 people they don't know well.  Have them do some icebreaker.  Then have them memorize the name of the other two mates in their group.  Whenever you leave a site or a hotel or a bus, say "mate-check."  Tell them that these three people will be thier important "mates" for the rest of the trip.  That way you don't risk miscounting AND you immediately know who is missing.  It's crucial that they're in groups with people they don't know well.  If you have three buddies together, they can all three be missing, and the bus can pull away  and no one squawks that someone is missing.  I took 32 to Scotland/Ireland, and this saved us many moments of frustration.  Plus, if you're constantly hearing the mates call out Jenny Snow, and then you repeat Jenny Snow, pretty soon everyone is peeved at Jenny for being the person who is always slowing the group down.

Evacuation and medical insurance isn't expensive for the young'uns, and it is worth requiring it.  Some states require their state employes have evacuation plans for any student group who travels off campus.  (I know that you're thinking Italy will be fine, but that's what the school's group in Japan thought last year!  Since the entire group had evacuation insurance it was nice to know that they all could leave together and get home without too much additional expense to the college.
Logged
peppergal
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 1,455


« Reply #14 on: April 03, 2012, 8:27:03 PM »

And no matter how well you plan, there will be the kid who sneaks out after curfew, gets drunk, assaults a police officer, lands in jail, and expects you to wave the magic wand and make it all better.  Or the burst appendix requiring immediate emergency surgery.  Both scenarios have happened involving people known to me.  (Drunk cop-puncher was immediately sent home, burst appendix had family fly in to take over care from the trip leader.)
Logged
Pages: [1] 2
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.9 | SMF © 2006-2008, Simple Machines LLC Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
  • 1255 Twenty-Third St., N.W.
  • Washington, D.C. 20037
subscribe today

Get the insight you need for success in academe.