Pre-Arrival Information

All arrival and pre-departure information is found in your VIA-TRM Traveller account. For general references on your pre-departure information, please read the following. 

Flights

Individual Participants

If you are a participant attending an Internship, Service Learning or Global Research Placement, please be sure to arrive at least one day prior to the start of the program.

For all programs please check with your Learn International Coordinator prior to arranging flights. 

Groups

If you are a part of a group participating in a Learn International program, please talk with your Study Abroad Advisor or Faculty member(s) accompanying you about whether group flights are being organised with your home institution.

If group flights are not to be organised, please contact your Study Abroad Advisor at your home institution on flight instructions.

Airport Transfers

Individual Students:

If your program offers an airport transfer, you either will be greeted at the airport by a Learn international staff or provided instructions on local transportation prior to arrival.

If your program offers “Optional Airport Transfer” you may organise an arrival and departure transfer with your Learn International Coordinator at a set rate, depending on your location.

If you miss or have an extended delay on a flight, you must contact Learn International Coordinator via email, in your VIA-TRM account or phone, to coordinate your pickup time.

Groups:

For all Customised programs – Airport transfers are agreed with your Study Abroad Office and/or Professor leading your program. Please ask your Study Abroad Advisor if an airport transfer is a part of your program.

Visa and Immigration

Individuals and Groups

Learn International is not an immigration or visa specialist. It is the responsibility of all participants to read the rules and regulations in their host-country.

Additional information about the type of visa required will be provided in your VIA-TRM account.

Upon arrival be prepared for:

  • Showing your passport (be sure it is signed and is valid up to 6 months after your departure)
  • Showing your exit ticket from your host-country. 
  • To provide an address as to where you will be staying on your program. 

Employment laws vary from country to country. On a tourist visa in most countries, you may not work. It is important to know the laws in relation to working and the consequences of working without permission. Learn International does not support working of any kind while on short-term programs without an appropriate visa. It is illegal and may distract participants from their studies and overall experience.

Weather

Weather will vary on the time year and your host-coutnry. Please read your pre-deprture manual in

Packing List

Paperwork and Copies

Before you go abroad, it’s best to make sure you have important documents and also copies of these documents with you and also, left with someone you trust in case of emergency.

  • Make sure you make copies of:
    • Your passport and/or visa information (where applicable)
      • Please make sure your passport is signed and valid for up to 6 months after your program is completed.
  • Second form of identification (License)
  • Invitation or acceptance letters from Learn International
  • Exit plane ticket from your study abroad destination
  • Health insurance and travel insurance
  • Credit cards and ATM cards
  • Flight details
  • Prescriptions (see more about medications below)

Clothing and Toiletries

Packing can feel like a stressful thing, but you can buy most anything you need in Ireland, so it’s best to pack light. Ireland also is a fairly casual country, however, people do tend to dress up a little when they go out for social activities.

Wearing layers is always good idea in Ireland, as the weather changes frequently throughout the day; Temperatures fluctuate between 40-65 F, even in the summer-time.

  • Raincoat and/or umbrella
  • Waterproof and/or comfortable shoes
  • Long pants/sweater/sweatshirt
  • One or two business casual outfits

If you decide to bring toiletries, make sure you check the size limits for carry-on baggage with your airline and be sure to wrap them up to prevent leakage. If there is a brand that you prefer, it is best to bring this with you, as the brands in your host-country may vary.

Types of Toiletries commonly brought:

  • Shampoo/Conditioner
  • Face Lotion/Body Lotion
  • Razors (most airlines allow these on the plane as a carry-on but bet to pack in checked luggage)
  • Deodorant

Tip: You can purchase most toiletries in-country, which will decrease weight in your luggage. However, if your program is short-term (2-3 weeks) it might be wise to bring small travel toiletries with you, to save on costs of buying regular-sized items.

Medication

If you take regular medication, it is best to carry this on the plane with you and in the original bottle/package with the prescription attached. Do not mix pills/tablets into one bottle, as this could delay you at immigration. You can choose to pack your medicine in your checked bag, but make sure it’s not something you need regularly, in case your bag is lost or delayed.

If you take any medication such as insulin, narcotics or any other controlled substances, please have a doctor’s note, a written prescription, and medication in its original bottle with you. Controlled substances are taken very seriously while traveling abroad, so be sure to have the appropriate documentation on the items.

If you are doing an extended program, 8-12 weeks, often your doctor can prescribe a script for up to 3 months; this may vary with controlled substances however. Please check with your doctor and health insurance for more information to assure you have enough medication for the duration of your program.

If there is brand of medicine such allergy medication you prefer, it is best to bring this with you also.

Electronics

  • Electrical plug adapters and electrical converters: If you are the USA or Canada, you will need to bring adapters and converters, when visiting Ireland and greater Europe.  Ireland is on 230V and the plug has 3 square prongs, most of Europe is on the same voltage but will need different plug adapters.  Please research what types of adapters you will need prior to arrival.
    • If you do not use these items, you risk a burning out your electronic device, fire or worse.
    • You can buy these items at a local electronics or travel store.  Many places in the USA such as Target, Amazon, and Radio Shack carry these items.
  • Laptop and charger: Most laptops have an automatic converter for power but you will still need an adapter, so please be sure to have one with you.
  • Mobile phone:  Learn International highly recommends you have some form of communication device in case of emergency. Options for phones in-country:
    • If you bring your home phone, be sure to check with your service provider about international rates and/or use this phone on wifi in-country to communicate. Wifi is regularly available in Ireland but not always reliable in case of emergency.
    • If you have an unlocked smartphone, you can easily purchase a sim card in Ireland with a pre-pay plan
    • You can purchase a ‘burner’ phone in-country with a pay-as-you-go plan, which is cost-effective.

* Tip: Make sure you put your home phone on either airplane mode or turn off your data once you arrive in Ireland or host country, so you are not charged international rates while abroad.

*Tip: Download applications on your smart-phone prior to arrival which on wifi will allow to text, talk and send photos for free.  Examples: WhatsApp and Viber.

  • Camera, charger(s), USB cables or any other electronics you needs while away.

Luggage

Check with your airline carrier to see what your luggage allowance is (weight and size). Typically, you can take one large checked bag, a carry-on bag and personal item.

It is also recommend that you bring a small suitcase/duffel bag that you can use for overnight excursions or travel within Ireland and Europe.

Money and Banking

There are ATM machines, banks, and money exchange at the airport. However, it’s important that you check with your home bank and credit card institution to see what fees (typically, it’s a 3% charge/fee on every purchase or withdrawal) there are when you use your debit or credit card abroad.

  • There are some banks and credit cards that do not charge this fee, so we recommend you research these and apply for accounts prior to arrival.
  • It’s not recommend that you carry large amounts of money on you.
  • Spread your money in various places while traveling, in case of theft.
  • You also must call your banks and credit cards to let them know you will be traveling abroad. If you do not, your card may be cancelled or frozen while abroad.
  • At times, your home bank will have a sister bank in various countries, where you can withdraw money for free. It’s a good idea to ask your home bank prior to departure.

*Tip: Travel checks are not used often, but you can exchange monies prior to your arrival or use companies such as, Travelex, as a safer way to carry money.

If you have any further questions about money, banking and credit cards, please contact us. We are happy to help you plan.

Safety

Ireland is generally a safe country overall, however, it is important to use your best judgment when going out, especially late at night. Please be aware of your surroundings, as you would in your home country. It is always best to travel with a friend or in a group.

If you feel unsafe at any time in Ireland, please contact the local authorities in Ireland by phone at: 999 or 112, tell your on-site Learn International Coordinator or follow the Learn International Emergency Plan provided in your on-site orientation packet on arrival.

Insurance

Health Insurance: All participants on Learn International are required to have international health insurance. Please check out our Health and Safety page for more information.

Travel Insurance: Travel insurance is highly recommended. It can cover things like trip cancellation, lost baggage and electronics. Some international health programs have travel insurance built into them, so please research these options before arrival.

Culture Shock

Before you go abroad, it’s likely you are pretty jazzed and excited to experience a new place, a new culture and explore. We’re excited for you too! That’s why we want to review a few things before you set off, so you can be aware of feelings of adjustment when you immerse yourself into a new society, place and people.

What is Culture?

According to dictionary.com and Merriam-Webster online dictionary, culture is defined as: The behaviours, customs, arts and/or belief systems of a particular society, ethnic group or place and time.

For the context of studying abroad with Learn International, culture is the way of life, value systems and behaviors of a group of people and varies from place to place, region to region and country to country. This way of life may be different from your own or what we’re accustomed to. At times, these differences can be difficult for us to manage and we may experience what is called, culture shock.

What is Culture Shock?

Some participants are completely unaffected by culture shock; others struggle with it at different degrees of intensity. The majority of Learn International programs are short-term or under 3 months in length, so participants who do experience some form of culture shock, may do so at less intense level than those on longer programs, but it is still possible.

When traveling and entering a new community, culture or daily routine, we have to adjust to a new way of life, routine and behaviors. At times, you may feel alone, uneasy, sad or even depressed from being outside of your comfort zone. Whether you are a participant on a study abroad program or a family member of a participant, please know that these feelings are normal, will decrease in time, and at times they are preventable.

A few additional symptoms of culture shock are:

  • Frustration
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Extreme tiredness or insomnia
  • Homesickness
  • Disorientation
  • Idolizing your own culture and criticizing your host culture
  • Isolation from others

Oberg’s was the first person to identify and coin the term “Culture Shock” in the late 1950s. He developed the five stages of Culture Shock, which we will use for this discussion but there are many theories related to Culture Shock and adjustment, such as Rhineback’s Ten Stages of Adjustment, if you would like to read more.

It’s important to note, that everyone goes through these stages differently, not in the same order, at varying rates and levels of intensity. It is wise to understand these phases prior to arrival, so you are aware and recognize if you or someone else is experiencing symptoms of culture shock while abroad.

According to K. Oberg’s stages, there are four that apply directly to culture shock abroad:

  • Honeymoon – This is where most people are excited, everything is new and wonderful. People are in a semi euphoric/happy state and are enjoying their journey as a tourist may. This is typically within the first couple weeks after arrival, when a person transitions to a new country or culture.
  • Irritation, Anger or Aggression (Crisis stage) – This is stage after the “honeymoon” wears off and little things that are different about your host country’s culture may start to annoy or frustrate you. It is during this time when most people really start to notice a differences between their host country and home. At times, it may feel as if everything and everyone from the host country is awful and unbearable to deal with; and you just want to go home. But leaving isn’t going to make it all better.
  • Recovery stage – This is where you will most probably start to accept/adjust to the differences in your host culture, get used to them or learn how to manage them. Things may still feel difficult, but feelings of hopelessness decrease. Every day gets a little easier and you feel more at ease.
  • Adjustment stage –  This is when you feel mostly at peace and comfortable in your new surroundings because you have adapted. You appreciate your host country and culture, want to learn more, and usually have a social network to keep you busy.

The rest of the stages refer, not listed here, to returning back to you home country and how you navigate your feelings and thoughts.

Tips on managing culture shock abroad:

  • Prior to arrival do your research on your host country’s culture, to prepare yourself.
  • Maintain some of your regular routines from home (exercise, journaling).
  • Try to be flexible and patient.
  • Exercise frequently. Go for walks and/or do something outside.
  • Keep an open mind and try to learn from your new culture versus criticize it.
  • Ask for a care package from home.
  • Try to make friends with someone from the local culture so you can ask questions about the culture and get involved.
  • Make friends with someone from your own culture/program; it is likely they are or have experienced similar feelings.
  • Ask for help, talk to someone: Learn International staff are always available to help or can help refer you to someone to chat too.
  • Explore your surroundings, be a tourist and see as much as possible.
  • Find something you like or appreciate about where you are every day.
  • Join a club, find a sport or an activity you enjoy.
  • Write down what you are feeling/keep a daily journal. Journaling is a great way to think about your feelings, experiences. Plus, it makes for a great keepsake/tool to look at after your study abroad experience when you re-enter your home-country.

Remember, you aren’t alone and most of what you are going through is normal; it’s all a part of the process.

All of us at Learn International have either studied abroad or lived abroad, so have firsthand experience with culture shock and managing it. We are always here to listen and help!

Links to helpful resources and sources:

What’s Up With Culture? – University of the Pacific

UC Irvine Center for International Education: Culture Shock

Northeastern University – Culture Shock

Studiesabroad.com

Oberg. K. Culture Shock presentation

Globalscholar.com

Returning Home, Canadian Bureau for International Education, 1984, p. 7.

Oberg, K. (1954). Culture shock. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill.

Oberg, K. (2006). Cultural shock: Adjustment to new cultural environments.curare, 29(2), 3.

Questions

If you have any questions about the above, please contact us or by email: [email protected] We are here to help.

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