Traveling Abroad in Times of Political Change

You are going abroad during interesting times in the history of the world, a time when the world is watching how the U.S. and its policies and practices will change under the new administration. It can be exciting and bring extra challenges. We’re here to give you some tips.

Top Tips for Heading Abroad During Times of Political Change

Read International News. You may be surprised how much the people who live in the country you are heading to are up on the U.S. election and politics. Expand your news sources; read international editions of newspapers and local newspapers. A subscription to the international edition of the NYTimes is included in your program package. Start to read it.

Learn to engage with people who may have views different than yours. Talking about politics  may be normal in other cultures and there may be less of an emphasis on “proving” one’s point. Here are some ground rules that we like (from author & consultant Judy Ringer):

  • Step 1: Check in with yourself:  Stay in touch with your emotional energy and the reason you are engaging in the conversation. What is the emotional level of the person you are talking with? What is your goal? What do you hope to gain? What might their intention or purpose be
  • Step 2: Cultivate an attitude of discovery and curiosity. Pretend you are talking with someone from another planet and want to discover everything about their world and their views!
  • Step 3: Acknowledge what they say. Really listen to the other person.  It doesn’t mean you agree, it just means you heard them.
  • Step 4: Explain your point of view. Calmly talk about where your viewpoints differ. The goal of the conversation isn’t to change each other’s minds; it’s to clearly state yours and even see what you might have in common.
  • Step 5: Problem-solve. Find something you like in what they said and build on it. Great solutions and understanding come from people talking and working together, even when it’s hard!

Recognize that you are no longer just a U.S. citizen, but a global one. You belong to your country, and soon you will be part of a small, special group that gets to live in another one. Embrace this new perspective and identity.

Have a communication plan with your friends and family back home. Know who you can reach out to when you need support.