Traveling with a group of friends or on your own can be a very rewarding and enjoyable experience.
The opportunity to share a common travel experience with others greatly enhances the learning and builds life-long friendships. The Tri-S experience is unique in that new and meaningful relationships emerge as you travel, serve and learn.
A worthwhile travel experience requires intentional preparation, a positive attitude and flexibility. Here are some tips for traveling with a Tri-S group or on your own for our study abroad program:
Become acquainted with your group
It is important that you attend all of the group predeparture meetings. In addition to learning essential details about the trip, these times serve to build a strong, coherent team, which is essential to a success experience.
Learn about the country and its history
Reading about the country and its history will provide a valuable context for your travel experience. The internet is an excellent source for information and current news.
Study the culture
Learn as much as you can about the people, their customs, language, and worldview. One of the most rewarding aspects of your experience will be to cross cultural boundaries of understanding.
Learn to adapt and maintain a positive attitude
Cultural differences, together with a strenuous travel and work schedule can lead to frustration and emotional stress. It is important to maintain a positive attitude and be prepared to adapt to the culture. Even though things may be done differently than we are used to, it does not mean that our way of doing things is better. Thoughtless, sarcastic remarks about ways of doing things, local traditions or accommodations can cause great resentment.
Since we are guests, we must be willing to accept and understand the customs and traditions of our host country. It is always important to be sensitive to cultural norms. For example, in some cultures, shorts and some other modes of dress are often considered inappropriate. Respect for such cultural differences is crucial to the success of the experience. The experience seeks to immerse students in another culture by living with host families, sharing in local meals, participating in work projects, and worshiping with the people. It is essential to demonstrate a gracious and thankful attitude for the meals, housing and hospitality that is offered.
International travel is always an adventure. Be prepared for the unexpected. Cultural immersion will stretch us to the limits of our physical and emotional capability. Changes in travel schedules, accommodations and work projects are inevitable. A successful experience requires that we be "infinitely flexible."