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What content/activities to include in a class about how to become confident travelers?

Hi all,

There wasn't a "perfect" forum to put this in, so here's hoping "Beyond Europe" is sufficient.

I'm a college professor, and I've been given the opportunity (sooo excited!!) to teach an undergrad class in the spring about becoming a traveler. The idea is to prime students to the idea of studying abroad. It's a class that will meet for an hour, once a week for 14 weeks.

The class title is roughly, "Global Citizenship and Travel Skills," and the essential questions we will address include --
1. Why is it important to have a global worldview, and how can traveling help enhance this worldview?
2. What practical steps can students take to become confident and cultured travelers?

Our discussion will by no means be limited to Europe, but will include domestic and international travel of all kinds. We will also talk about getting outside of one's comfort zone and interacting with people of other cultures.

I'd love to hear ideas from you all about topics, activities, etc. that would make this a successful, meaningful class. All ideas are welcome - articles to read, helpful websites, suggestions for skills that student travelers should know, ideas for class activities/assignments, etc. I have a lot of thoughts already but I don't want to list them here at this time so as not to stifle creativity in responses.

Thanks, all!!

Posted by
16771 posts

Are you interested in resources that will help them get the most value for their money?

Posted by
860 posts

I'm interesting in EVERYTHING right now! Of course I will narrow it down, but right now I'm in the "sky's the limit" phase. I really would like any and all ideas to hone down, thanks!

Posted by
341 posts

Some homework assignments:

  • Navigate in an unfamiliar location with a printed map, no smartphone.

  • Practice making yourself understood with someone who doesn't speak your language. (Maybe bring someone in who speaks a language no one in the class speaks and who has no English, and challenge the students to get directions from them or buy something from them.) This could be hilarious fun (as well as educational) if done in the right spirit.

  • Find some non-political articles from foreign newspapers that typify a very non-American worldview and discuss differences in beliefs and assumptions.

How am I doing?

Posted by
6033 posts

Click on 'Watch, Read, Listen' on the menu here, there's a whole lot of good information there. Under Rick's TV shows and clips there is a section on travel skills with three episodes. They are aimed at European travel but work for all areas. Also watch Rick Steves Travel Talks.

Posted by
960 posts

Take a look at the Travel Tips section of this website. It covers a lot of what a newbie traveler would need to know.

Posted by
16768 posts

Under that same 'Watch, Read, Listen' tab, you'll find Rick's recorded talk on "Travel as a Political Act," drawn from his book of the same title.

Posted by
1845 posts

Awesome! Emphasize going with an open mind and absolutely no preconceived notions about what they think they will find there!! You have come to the right place. I think this is what Rick teaches, too.

Posted by
4964 posts

I was also going to suggest "Travel as a Political Act" as a starting point. I have seen his presentation on this live and online. Note, however, that some people have strong feelings on some points on a liberal/conservative line. You can also go back to Mark Twain and "Innocents Abroad" for a longer-term perspective.

How about inviting some immigrants, or people who have lived abroad to come and speak. Many cities also have international relations and political discussion groups that might come up with a good speaker.

Its language that I think makes many people, especially young people, uncertain about travel abroad. I dont know how you address that.

Posted by
3210 posts

Kelly, does Atlanta have “ethnic” markets, neighborhoods, restaurants, groups, and festivals? Would proprietors or organizers offer a chance to mingle, or arrange for a nearby field trip?

The Denver, Colorado, area has an Alliance Francaise, a Greek Festival organized around the Greek Orthodox church, a Japanese community square, and a Chinese Dragon Boat race and party, and Mexican and Hispanic shopping neighborhoods, for starters. Diversity can offer a tiny glimpse in other cultures, where going to other parts of the world will offer an immersion. Does someone at your city hall have suggestions for people to contact?

Posted by
244 posts

On the global citizenship side of things, some resources I find useful when working with students include:

  • Activities from the Maximizing Study Abroad kit and student book: especially in terms of identifying one's own culture and understanding how another might be different. This comes up a lot with time and timeliness, among other topics. Some info is available free, such as this personal culture inventory.
  • Thinking in terms of world systems theory, and soft vs. critical global citizenship education (works by Vanessa Andreotti for soft vs. critical global citizenship)
  • Global SL for anything related to global service learning (and critiques of "voluntourism")

I think it would also be extremely interesting to add in some travel narratives to talk about how individuals experience travel, and how they construct a notion of what defines a different country or culture. Could tie in to "how to talk and how NOT to talk about your experiences abroad," which can be handy for students who may be using study, volunteer, or travel abroad examples in upcoming interviews!

Posted by
860 posts

Ooh, this is great! Keep it coming, guys!

@Cyn - yes, Atlanta is a very diverse city with every religion, language, immigrant, etc. you can imagine. Clarkston, GA has one of the largest refugee populations in the southeast. There's all kinds of markets like Super H Mart, etc. that are geared toward certain ethnic groups. Definitely will use some of those experiences. The college at which I teach, however, is a good drive from downtown Atlanta (I use "Atlanta" loosely in my signature but live/work in a suburban-to-rural area) so some students may not be able to make it there (some will, though). I'm envisioning a choice board of sorts where they can "choose their own adventures" as to cultural experiences so that those who don't have a car can still participate.

Posted by
16771 posts
  • Seat61.com for voluminous info on European trains, including advice on how, where and when to buy tickets.
    ...Pricing (steep discounts for early purchase of non-changeable, date/time-specific tickets).
    ...German regional tickets, UK day-return fares and any other especially good deals of note.
    ...How to figure out whether a rail pass will save money.
    ...Availability of student or youth discount cards in some countries.
    ...Discuss the necessity of validating tickets that aren't train-specific.

  • Deutsche Bahn website for practicing schedule look-up.
    ...How to see details on transfers and find list of stops made.

  • Skyscanner.com for intra-European flights
    ...Pricing (steep discounts for early purchase)
    ...Exploring options by specifying a country or "Europe" as a destination.
    ...Severe baggage restrictions on some airlines, use of inconveniently located secondary airports and the various other gotchas.

  • flights.google.com (or reliable alternative) for transatlantic flights.
    ...Multi-city tickets.
    ...Difference between protected connections (single ticket to destination) and unprotected connections (separately purchased tickets).
    ...Risk of some third-party ticket sellers (possibility of scams, difficulty of adjusting ticket if necessary due to flight cancellation or major scedule change.

  • Rick's money tips.
    ...Importance of checking on fees connected with international use of their specific ATM and credit cards.
    ...ATM fees.
    ...Dynamic Currency Conversion at ATMs and during credit-card transactions.

  • Schengen Zone restrictions.

  • Value of cultural-background info in good guidebook.
    ...Good example: Criticality of greeting people in France with "Bonjour monsieur/madame".
    ...Obsession with bottled water in restaurants; where you cannot expect to get free tap water (Switzerland, Barcelona?).

  • Rick's packing tips.
    ...High cost of mailing stuff back from Europe.
    ...Street markets as potential source for forgotten items.
    ...Possibly-different standards of air conditioning in summer and heat during shoulder season.

  • CDC website
    ...Suggested/required vaccines.
    ...Drinking-water safety, malaria and other location-specific tips.

  • Dept. of State website
    ...Safety alerts.

Posted by
6150 posts
  1. What practical steps can students take to become confident and cultured travelers?
  • Mastering a second or third language (avoid being mono-lingual)
  • Learning (the foreign country's) history
  • Reading and interpreting foreign newspapers or news (Deutsche Welle, France 24, etc.)
  • Being conversant/ knowledgeable about world affairs
  • Sharpening problem-solving, critical thinking, and interpersonal skills
Posted by
1424 posts
  1. What practical steps can students take to become confident and cultured travelers?

Planning your trip:
- getting started …. how do you begin to plan a trip? how will you organize it?
- choosing/planning your destinations, how long to spend
- resources to research travel options (tours, cruises, guides, DIY)
- resources to research "things to do" at a destination
- resources to research hotels
- resources to research transportation options
- "remembering" your trip (photos, etc.)
- local language and customs (e.g., language courtesies, tipping)

Understanding travel risks:
- identify travel "gotchas" and how to avoid them
- risks at your destination and how to avoid them
- booking "third party" vs "direct" with airline, hotel, etc.
- deciding on / choosing travel insurance

Posted by
2361 posts

I would have them practice using subway maps to get to locations and not just count on using an app. Start with London and then do Paris or somewhere else that's not in English. A lot of them probably haven't traveled on subways before-maybe even ride MARTA?

Health issues-necessary shots, what OTC to take with you,

Role playing crisis scenarios- what do you do if you get sick in a foreign country? or you miss your flight? or your luggage is lost? or you lose your passport?

Developing habits that decrease risk of pickpocketing-such as not leaving purses and phones on table while eating.

Posted by
1507 posts

Since you're dealing with the college crowd, I'd suggest a discussion on budgeting. For example an assignment could be to give them a hypothetical budget (say $2000) and have them plan an day trip, including airfare, lodging, food, any other transportation. Just like the board game Life, you could surprise them part way through the assignment with an unexpected event (things go wrong...highlighting the need for some cushion in your budget). Though this site is full of very helpful practical tips, these are college kids who are going to sleep in hostels or couch surf, eat fast food, and pick activities that cost less than many of us might choose. On that point, make sure they know about Lonely Planet and other guides that focus on less expensive avenues of travel.

As for helping set the world view, getting up to speed on the news and events in other countries is a good way to start. Perhaps each student can pick (or be assigned) a country or the term, the end assignment a discussion of the events and politics affecting that place. Better yet, have them focus on how foreign news reports on events that happen in the United States - which is eye opening to new travelers (turns out, it isn't all about us!)

Last random thought - I love Atlas Obscura (https://www.atlasobscura.com/) for their interesting take on places and things to see. There are even some interesting thoughts on Atlanta you could fold into your discussions - https://www.atlasobscura.com/things-to-do/atlanta-georgia

Posted by
15 posts

Greetings,
For great packing tips, I recommend the One Bag website. https://www.onebag.com
I'm not suggesting that they strive for one bag travel. The packing tips, laundry tips, packing list, and other ideas may be helpful.

For ideas about what clothing to pack, there are several websites that discuss a capsule wardrobe. Search for "travel capsule wardrobe". Travel Fashion Girl is another good site. https://www.travelfashiongirl.com

Your class sounds fun. I wish I could attend! elisa

Posted by
8889 posts

I really like Marcia's suggestions.

I would add:
24 hour clock - nobody outside the USA uses AM/PM for anything official.
Metric system - Very few people outside the USA know what feet and inches, pounds and ounces or Fahrenheit is.

And, expect the unexpected. Many things will be done differently, you will find this out the hard way. Not necessarily better or worse, just different. And often it is things you never contemplated could be done differently, because you have only ever seen it done one way all your life.

Posted by
341 posts

Another assignment:

Go to a tourist spot in your area where there are bound to be some foreign travelers and interview them about what surprised them most in coming to the US (or the South) their first time. This is sure to be surprising to your students, if they can find people who truly describe their experiences and observations. It will prepare them to be surprised about things they have never thought about.

For example, someone I know who came to San Francisco from China, his first morning looked out the window and said, "Where are all the people?" In China, no matter what the hour or where you were, there would be people on the streets, lots of them. He was really startled.

Posted by
11506 posts

Great opportunity, Kelly!

I don't know as I'll be able to explain what I'm thinking very well but I'd stay away from the tactical stuff early in the course. I wouldn't talk about "Rick's" anything nor narrow the focus to Europe. Spend some time over on Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree (and I'd highly advise spending some time browsing that one + Nomadic Matt) and you'll run into tons of young people headed to Asia, Australia, South America and Africa. A lot of these destinations are more affordable and/or offer the sorts of adventure travel a lot of travel college kids seem to be looking for.

That said, I think part of the education is (a) choosing destinations that are good matches with personal interests, and (b) developing a personal STYLE they are most comfortable with + suits their budget. Nothing bugs me more than the poster whom has already bought plane tickets but hasn't a clue what they should do/see when they get there? That's the interest piece: choosing locations that offer what turns you on, be it a party trip at a beach resort in Bali, an archeological crawl through Giza, hiking to Everest base camp, Wwoofing an organic farm in Australia, an art odyssey in Italy, etc.

Next is the style piece: figuring out what sorts of conditions you can or cannot live with to make the trip a success; what pieces you are most apt to research and which, if any, you don't want to have to deal with. Also what you can or cannot afford. All of this can determine whether you are hostel-bunk material or better suited to nice hotels, prefer indy exploring to tours, packaged deals to DIY itineraries, street food to sit-down gourmet cuisine, cheap public transit to hired cars, etc.

One other consideration - and this does fall under a "Travel as a Political Act" type heading - is dealing with what one might find ethically or morally objectionable in a different country; a willingness or not to try to contextualize why things are the way they are. Doesn't mean one has to condone what is offensive to them, and in some cases, very strong beliefs or legitimate comfort-level issues may necessitate different styles of travel than one might otherwise choose or different choices altogether. A member of the LGBT community, say, may choose to avoid countries with harsh laws regarding their lifestyle. For safety, women who ordinarily travel solo may choose to explore certain African countries with a tour. Anyway, apt to provoke some lively conversations where human rights or even "green" issues are concerned?

THEN there's the tactical piece: how to research a trip. Like practically anything else, the internet - which is likely to be the first go-to resource - is a minefield of false or outdated, information, self-serving advertising, and nefarious types looking to get their hands on your $$. You could talk about the best methods of cutting through the junk, making effective use of forums, reviews and tourism boards, etc.

Posted by
2705 posts

I am on a number of travel forums and what drives me crazy is the poor planning for a trip and how using an old fashioned paper guide book - just once - can be so beneficial for planning. Not the middle part - with the hotels, restaurants and 'things to do'. That part can be better researched on line for current details and accuracy.
It is the things like visas, driving rules and regs (when a country requires an international driver's license; ZTL zones), immunizations, banking advice, currency, electrical requirements, often language cheat sheets......the front and back of the book has all the practical things to keep in mind when going to a new country. As mentioned above, the internet can be full of incorrect details, but it is also a mess to research as things lead to something else, but not always in a logical flow. The book holds the boring stuff, but it is the stuff that may save you from being refused entry to a country, getting sick, or imprisoned.

It also gives insight to local cultures and mores.
If there is an easy one stop shop website that does all the same, then great. Tell me and I will spread the word.
Maybe have students check a guide book out of the library or off mom and dad's shelf. Look at the table of contents and review the front and back sections to make a list of things to consider for every trip.
It might matter less for a trip to England, but it will matter if you want to visit a mosque in Dubai or even travel with certain medications.
Speaking of which, I suggest you cover issues even closer to home. CBD oil, medical marijuana, drinking ages and criminal records and travel. With pot and derivatives being legal in some states and countries, clarify that US federal laws are what applies at border crossings....which means federally pot and derivatives are NOT 'legal. Certain OTC meds and prescriptions are illegal or cannot be purchased in regions or countries - even something as simple as Sudafed. Drinking ages vary. Criminal records even DUIs can stop you from entering a variety of countries. This can lead to not getting or keeping a job if you are not able to travel due to a record. Reinforcing that what they do now at a young age can affect their life for decades, gives them awareness that might make them think twice.
Above all, travel is a privilege - not a 'right'. Act accordingly.

Posted by
1839 posts

In the "Global Citizenship" category, perhaps, select a few countries (maybe the Netherlands, Singapore, England, Hong Kong (both pre &post China), Ireland, Argentina/Brazil, Italy, Greenland (as a territory of Denmark), Vietnam, and ask students (broken into various small groups) to each take a country to do a quick comparison of pros/cons, strengths/weaknesses, risks/opportunities both as a country for its citizenry and also its position on the global stage. Of course, in doing the analysis, there would be the natural comparison of the same for the USA. Natural resources, pollution, political stability (or lack thereof), ability to defend the nation, dependence on other countries (and for what) financial crises, lessons learned, gun control/crime, medical, education, and on and on....and without getting too involved, some consideration could be considered as to how those situations in the countries have morphed over time (ex. Singapore becoming very clean with almost zero crime, but VERY strictly enforced rules ..... just how cars are purchased and licensed there students would find fascinating and how that has impacted mass transit, etc. along with what all the fore mentioned means for a traveler.)

Likely the end result would be an understanding that there are SOME things in some countries from which the US can learn, and there are other countries from which we can learn so we do not end up the same way (avoid mistakes).....and, of course, there will be some counting of blessings and hope for wise decisions from leaders going forward (not to mention careful consideration as ballots are cast by citizens).

When we traveled somewhat extensively over the past 15 years, we were often amazed at just how much young people and more mature adults knew about our country (often with their facts totally correct and amazing insights), yet even though we read extensively and pay close attention to news (local, national, world), we still learned a great, great deal more about the nations we were visiting during our short stays, and we have continued to learn since we are now even more attuned to news going forward about places we have personally visited.

Travel is such a learning experience on many levels. What a great course you are organizing, and I cannot help but think it would help so many adults in the population at large, too.

Posted by
341 posts

I assume you'll have a recommended reading section. Make sure it includes "A Passage to India" by E.M. Forster and other great novels that depict cultures in conflict.

Posted by
16771 posts

The lists of books and movies related to each country on this website (and his books) are very useful. Such lists are a feature of most guidebooks.

I recommend pushing hard on the value of guidebooks, not only for their sightseeing information but also for the cultural backgroynd offered.

And emphasize the importance of current information during the planning phase. Traffic to popular destinations is increasibg so rapidly that advice from someone who traveled even 2 or 3 years ago may be dangerously outdated, especially with respect to the need to buy tickets to sights in advance.

Posted by
3210 posts

Really great input from everybody. Some comments made me think of another specific topic: bathrooms.

First, “WC” or “Toilet” are the terms generally used for a public toilet, if someone needs to “go.” And a traveler may need to be prepared to pay for its use, either a coin-operated space, or an arrangement with a washroom attendant, who will expect to collect the fee from the user. If someone wants to use a toilet in a restaurant, cafe, or bar, they may need to be prepared to make a purchase for access . . . Except for the McDonald’s down the street from the Versailles Palace in France. It seemed more people were in line for the ladies’ room there, than in line to buy Big Macs. Museums might have free bathrooms, and maybe a gas station/convenience store, but likely not a grocery store or many other small shops. Toilet paper may be tougher, thinner, or less prevalent than at home. Never pass up a chance to pee, because your next opportunity could be a long time away!

And once inside, the facilities may vary. From a hole in the ground to a porcelain device with many possibilities of how to make it flush - press on a lever, push a button, pull a chain, etc.

That applies to bathrooms in hotels, B&B’s, and hostels, too. Figuring out how to get the shower to turn on and then adjust the temperature could be challenging. And the water pressure could be just a dribble, so getting clean may mean settling for “travel clean,” rather than what they might be used to at home. And shower curtains might not exist.

In the U.K., there won’t be an electrical outlet, so hair dryers have to be used in another room.

Posted by
3210 posts

Oh, and pharmacies. In Europe, they’re almost universally marked by a green cross - often lit up. Now that Colorado seems to have legal marijuana dispensaries on nearly every corner, using the same green cross, states where pot is legal have started to have a lot of them. But a friend from the USA who arrived with me in Nice, France 3 years ago exclaimed, “I didn’t know that marijuana was legal here in France!” She was surprised to find out that they were drug stores, but not for cannabis drugs.

And, at least in France and Spain, maybe elsewhere, too, there’s a person in the pharmacy with advanced medical training. Going there can be like a quasi-visit to a doctor, not just to a clerk who happens to ring up a medicine sale.

Posted by
1845 posts

What a great curriculum you will have for your students. Wish I could attend!

Posted by
10 posts

I wonder if a unit on weather and weather patterns and a basic geography/climate lesson could be helpful. There are always posts on all the travel sites that are completely unrealistic as far as the ability to travel to a list of destinations in the time available, either due to time to transit or distance to destination that are just ridiculous. This would fit right in with the map reading lesson (which actually almost uses "data visualization" concepts (cartography))
If really one of the key functional skills is learning to be adaptable, maybe you could come up with harmless ways to repeatedly disrupt the comfort zone to teach them how to function in changed circumstances. Like, using Euro style dates and the 24 hour clock, or changing the orientation of your classroom around several times so they have to adapt to different situations.

I suppose something about crime/hazards/personal safety/personal health should be in there as well.

Posted by
1864 posts

Not sure if this was already mentioned, but RS developed an education resource on Europe (and beyond) for schools called Classroom Europe

Posted by
341 posts

Well, let's not make Kelly's curriculum overly negative. How about also positive tips on connecting to people who you don't seem to have much in common with... in order to find the commonalities?

One would assume that students interested in studying abroad would have the motivation for this, but some folks who go live abroad actually can't bear the differences. On a language-learning site I belong to, there's a thread now about expats who can't cope at all with the different food and customs and become bitter complainers to other expats. The diagnosis there is that they become infantile because they feel they no longer have control over their circumstances.

The best result after this course is that a few students decide they don't want to go abroad after all, and the rest go and be great ambassadors for their own country and for themselves!

Posted by
6753 posts

Have them interview students who have returned from study abroad. Since you have so few contact hours, I hope you use them for class time and assign the visits and interviews to be done as out-of-class assignments.

Posted by
11506 posts

I'm still getting the feeling that because this an RS forum that it's overly focused on Europe. To repeat a previous bit of advice, look at where young people from all over the world are going these days, and the rock-bottom types of accommodations/transport they're willing to put up with to make their $ stretch. Language challenges in, for instance, Russia, China or Japan may also be greater than in central Paris, Versailles or Rome.

This forum is great but doesn't do a particularly good job appealing to the more intrepid 20 or 30-somethings, IMHO.

Posted by
860 posts

You. Guys. Are. AH-MAZING.

Thank you so much for all the ideas and thoughts in this thread. I'll be honest, my head is spinning and I feel like I need a year to cover everything, so I'll need to boil it down to manageable chunks; probably 14 "in class" sessions and 14 "flipped/outside of class/homework" type assignments.

I watched Travel as a Political Act last night. I never realized it was a TV special until this thread. I had read the book when it first came out (which I suspect will be a hard sell for 19-year olds, haha, "Hey, y'all, read this 200 page book about the political aspect of traveling") but I definitely plan on using clips from his speech as a lot of it speaks directly to the "big why" people should travel.

I'll probably come back here in a few weeks with my class outline to get feedback on it. Thanks again!!

Posted by
2361 posts

I like the idea about weather. Having lived all my life in the South (born and went to college in Georgia), it was years before I remembered that everywhere is not 85(on a cool day) in June and July-and I have a collection of jackets and sweatshirts from other places that I had to buy as a result of my localized thinking!

Posted by
8889 posts

Kelly, you ask:

"What content/activities to include in a class about how to become confident travelers?"

"teach an undergrad class in the spring about becoming a traveler. The idea is to prime students to the idea of studying abroad."

That is actually two different issues, being a traveller and living in a place.
Speaking as an Immigrant, who has lived for many years in a "foreign country", I went through the learning curve of moving to a different culture.

As a traveller, your issues are transport (to your destination and long distance between your overnight stops), finding accommodation, restaurants, places to see, getting money from your bank account in a different country. The people you interact with (hotels, restaurants, airports) will be paid employees catering for travellers with a high likelihood they speak English.

  • If you move to a new country, you first to find somewhere to live. That involves understanding the local housing market. How does it work, where are places advertised? What is the deposit / rent paying system, are there any legal quirks you need to know etc. The people you deal with are not in the tourist industry, they are catering for locals, who speak the local language and know the local system.
  • Getting any necessary residents permit/visa. Do you need to to register with the local municipality? Get a "Foreigners Identity Card"?
  • Then you need a bank account in a local bank. How do payments work in that country? Bank employees again will have limited English. How is your income coming in? Will it need to be transferred from a bank in your home country to your new account?
  • Transport -need to know what the economical system is for paying for public transport long-term, weekly, monthly and annual cards. Local transport operators website is only in local language, bar one tourist-orientated page.
    • If you want a car, even more complicated. Will your licence be valid? Foreign licences are often only valid 6/12 months, then you need to get a local one. May need to pass a test.
    • Buying a car. How do you register it. How do you get insurance, what insurance is legally required. How often does the car need a new safety test (MOT in the UK, TÜV in Germany, MFK in Switzerland).
  • And finally food. All labelling in the supermarket will be in local language. What you are used to will not be available. They eat different things, you will have to get used to it. Or pay for very expensive imported brands in a speciality shop.
  • P.S. Medical system. Do you need to pay for insurance, or does it come out of taxes? What is the system if you need a doctor?

That's enough, there is more. But I think I've made my point. Being a "traveller" is very different from living in a "foreign" country.

Posted by
5817 posts

I think you should teach some of the basics that apply to most of the rest of the world, but (wierdly) not in the US. The 24hr clock, metric measurements, temperatures in Celsius not farenheit.

The importance of getting place names right. "Europe" is not an amorphous mass. A "relaxed" attitude to place names, often seen on this sight, will get you lost and could cause offence. Use full addresses, don't drop the "road" or the "street" it matters. Learn what places are actually called. England is not the same as the UK and Scotland and Wales are definitely not English!
Learn what is and isn't acceptable conversation in other countries. I'm generalising but in the UK people don't run shreaking from a conversation that touches on politics as long as it is polite, but many would feel uncomfortable if the topic of someone's religious beliefs comes up. It seems to be the opposite in the US.

Posted by
13933 posts

which I suspect will be a hard sell for 19-year olds, haha, "Hey, y'all, read this 200 page book about the political aspect of traveling

When I was a college student, there were lots of long reading assignments, most of them not nearly so interesting. That sentence just makes me sad. . . . unless this is an "easy A" course.

Posted by
860 posts

@Chani, it’s a one-hour elective interest seminar, not a full, traditional 3-hour class. So yes, a one-hour class should have 1/3 the work of a 3-hour class. ;) They actually don’t get a letter grade, it’s a completed/did not complete type class outside of their majors. The seminars are designed to have students get to know others around campus better while learning something of interest.

Posted by
1068 posts

Does your college or university have an Instagram account for the study abroad program? If so, I’d suggest having your students follow it. I’m very active in my university’s alumni association and I love seeing the Instagram account of the students that are currently studying abroad and I’ll often chip in advice.

Posted by
11506 posts

Hi Kelly! Great that you touched back to us!
I'm interested in what is and isn't resonating with your students? Anything you can fill us in on?

Posted by
3210 posts

Glad it’s going well! Anyone already thinking about studying abroad, or just going somewhere on vacation? Where?

Posted by
860 posts

Well, I still haven't 100% worked out all 12 sessions that we meet, since it's the first time I've taught it, but right now we've done the following.

  • Took a pretest about attitudes toward study abroad and international travel (I will also administer as a post-test at end to see if anything changed)
  • They have watched Rick Steves Travel Skills 1, 2, and 3 on their own time while journaling their answers to specific prompts about the video (things like, "What do you think about hostels?" or "Do you think you would prefer traveling with a group or independently?" We have then further discussed those videos in class.
  • We're working our way through Travel as a Political Act, about 20 minutes per class, and discussing as we watch. The video addresses fear of "over there" regarding travel, the American Way not the only way, etc. Very thought-provoking.
  • They are completing 2-3 activities of their own design, about which they will write reflections, designed to get them out of their comfort zones (things such as visiting a different religious service, taking a subway, learning a few phrases of a different language and speaking them with a native speaker...)
  • We will be meeting at the library to check out books on travel, and I will walk them through how to plan a trip using the internet and guidebooks
  • They will then plan their own domestic and international trips, given a budget
  • We are meeting with the study abroad coordinator, who will walk them through opportunities available and how to apply
  • They will complete the study abroad application and submit to me for feedback (for a grade). Those who wish may submit it "for real." They will do the same with a study abroad scholarship application.
  • Finally, I hope to have a small essay contest at the end of the class (not for a grade) - where the winner(s) will get their passport fee paid for--working on funding for that as we speak!

Some of them have expressed interest in study abroad; I really hope I can get at least one of them to go for it! I know money is a big factor, but I have found lots of scholarships that they can apply for.

Posted by
3210 posts

Really sounds great, and you may the catalyst for at least one of the kids to do something highly significant in this time of their education, and their life!

Posted by
11506 posts

WOW! Well done, Kelly!
I would LOVE to be a mouse in the corner of your classes; I'll just bet that there have been some very thought-provoking discussions!

Posted by
679 posts

Sounds wonderful Kathy. You have really explored a lot of different aspects. Good job:)

Posted by
5645 posts

If these students are not well traveled, I would include some tips on being “street smart” too. When my daughter studied abroad in college, she couldn’t believe some of the things she stopped less traveled, less sophisticated, less “city smart” students from doing. For example, she stopped a group of girls from walking across a dark city park at night. Common sense but something they may need to be reminded about.

Posted by
2 posts

My favorite tip for new travelers may not be as appropriate for younger people as it is for us middle-agers but it's to make sure you are in shape to travel. I've heard so many complaints from people who left the comforts of the U.S. and over-walked or encountered too many hills and came close to ruining a vacation. People should take a few weeks to get used to moving on their own power (if they aren't going to be whisked around by automobiles while traveliong) at least if they aren't accustomed to being on their feet.

Posted by
10923 posts

I read Ricks 10 tips for traveling as a political act. https://www.ricksteves.com/watch-read-listen/read/articles/10-tips-for-traveling-as-a-political-act

Glad I did. I think its perfect for a class

Start with the title is lousy. "Political Act". Yes, if you go back to the Greek you can get "affairs of the state" out of it and that mildly touches on his topic, but then add "act" and it has very little to do with his description of the intent. There is nothing political about it and there is no "act" involved other than the act of travel.

BUT, the description RS puts on paper is pretty much spot on to what makes an enjoyable and meaningful trip. Unless one of you ends up being the next Czar or President, it's all about personal enrichment and that's good too. Now you could argue if everyone did it there would be some positive impact.... but if everyone did it then A.O.C. would have a conniption fit over the fuel wasted over the Atlantic .....

Actually its a beautiful way to travel, but very few will either do it and fewer yet will find understanding.