This course focuses on providing you with a sophisticated understanding of culture that will
allow you to better navigate situations wherever you encounter cultural differences. In general,
we avoid simple lists of “do’s and don’ts” which may become outdated and cannot possibly
cover every situation you will encounter. However, lists of "do's and donts'" can be useful if you
know their limits, so for this module, we will provide some “do’s and don’ts” that cover simpler
yet essential aspects associated with traveling abroad. This will include:
1. Preparing to leave and taking care of yourself, learning to adapt, and
staying out of trouble
This is a vary practical section about basic topics you need to consider in order to stay healthy, safe, and out of trouble when in a new cultural
2. Etiquette and protocol
This important section focuses on the most important issues related to politeness and good manners that you should consider when in a new
3. Social roles and relationships
Closely related to etiquette and protocol, this important sections teaches you how to think about people and social relationships in terms of
some common roles and identities found in most societies. Male/female, boss/employee, friends, family, old/young, etc. are common
variables across the world but to successfully navigate other cultures, you need to know how much these roles vary cross culturally.
While other parts of the course will help you navigate other cultures either in the USA or abroad,
this module is focused on the "abroad" part. For any international students who are taking this
course, note that many of the same type of questions, issues, and information would help a
visitor to the US as well.
Experienced travelers may find some of this information familiar, so consider this a review and
feel free to skim if this is the case for you (of course, you still have to do the assignments!).
Other travelers prefer not to plan too much in advance and take a more spontaneous and
adventurous approach to travel. Lack of planning can lead to fun suprirses and fantastic
adventures, but it can also lead to incredibly dangerous or inconvenient situations, so we cannot
recommend this approach here.
Please note that information provided here is not meant to replace advice and policies you must
follow if you are engaging on MSU sponsored travel, such as study abroad.
Information resources to help you plan an international trip
The following links provide efficient, one-stop-shopping for pre-departure research about your
destination country. I advise you spend a few minutes browsing each of these web sites to get an
idea of the type of information they have. We will ask you questions that will require you to
know which web site to go to to find the answer.