Preparing for Study Abroad

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This week our school is running a “College Boot Camp” for our grade 12 students while the rest of the school is away on field trips. We are doing a lot of different activities, and one of the sessions I am running is getting students to do some reading and research about the college experience and teenage life. The majority of our students are Vietnamese and are planning to study abroad in the US, Canada, Australia or Europe.

Here are some of the articles we’re using to spark conversation and further research:

1. The Dark Power of Fraternities

A lengthy piece of investigate journalism about the dangers and the powerful role of fraternities in the US college landscape. A challenging piece for college-level readers that exposes them to not only the social impact of these campus group, but also the legal, economic, and political sides of fraternities.

2. 27 Struggles Every International Student Goes Through at an American College

This humorous list-style article introduces students to some of the cultural differences they may experience as international students. There is not a lot of text, but English language learners may still need time to look up new vocabulary and understand each item.

3. Why Kids Sext

An in depth piece on the pervasive culture of sexting in US high schools. Covers the social and legal aspects, and includes a lot of anecdotes from real cases. I like that this article points out the long-term consequences of sexting, and how they may not be fully understood by teenagers involved in the practice.

4. Bullied kids finally seek help – from mom and dad

This is a Newsela article, so readers can adjust the Lexile level and complexity of the text. It gives different examples of cyber-bullying in US high schools,and the effects it can have on students.

5. What Can You Really Do With a Degree in the Arts?

A look at statistics and case studies of working artists. A good article to read for any students considering a career in the arts.

6. This is Your Brain on Drugs

Some international students will be in for a shock when they encounter their peers using marijuana or other substances openly. This article is good discussion starter because it focuses on the effect of marijuana on the brains of adolescents.

7. Our Roommates, Ourselves

Having a roommate will be a new experience for almost all of my students. I like this article, because it uses statistics to talk about the roommate relationship.

8. How Sugar Daddies are Financing College Education

I read this article recently on the The Atlantic, and I wanted the students to have some exposure to the Sugar Baby/Sugar Daddy relationship. It’s also a good conversation starter about the high cost of the college and the long-term costs (financial and otherwise) of student loans.

I chose these articles because students are already inundated with tips on how to do better on the SATs or how to improve their accents. What they don’t have a lot of exposure to, is actual teenage and college culture in the countries they plan to live and study in.

We are following up this research/reading session with a “College Confidential” session where boys and girls will be split up in separate groups. All students can submit anonymous questions to the homeroom advisors (one male, one female), which will be discussed during the College Confidential time.

Have you ever been an international student? What do you wish you had learned before going?

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