Western Illinois University: Macomb Campus
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Center for International Studies
Greetings from Macomb! Remember, the Office of Study
Abroad is here as a resource to assist you during your time overseas.
In addition to the
Guide you received prior to departure, the information below will
ensure a successful time abroad.
Carry the appropriate documents during your travel. This includes some or all of the following, depending on your program:
- Student visa
- Letter of admission from the host institution
- Financial affidavit
Confirm your safe arrival. Within two weeks of arriving, send us the following:
- Your address in the host country
- Your telephone and fax numbers
- Your e-mail address
Send us your actual class registration . To receive the correct credit at WIU, you must send this information as soon as possible. Your registration confirmation must include:
- The course numbers and/or names of any classes you've added
- The course numbers and/or names of any classes you've dropped
- A description or syllabus for any courses you've added, if we don't already have one. Check with your Study Abroad Advisor if you're not sure.
Maintain adequate academic records. Keep all your records from abroad: syllabi, reading lists, reports, papers, notes, journals, essays, etc. Not only will you want to remember what you've learned, these records may be useful if you petition for special status or ask that a course abroad be renumbered here at WIU.
Prepare yourself for writing-based evaluations abroad . In many other cultures, your final grade for the entire course may rest on your performance in a single essay exam. Below are some tips for handling the differences.
Be aware of stress and its causes. Besides the usual stress factors of classes and course work, students abroad often experience:
- Jet lag
- Culture shock
Set high standards for personal behavior . Remember that stereotyping is universal. Try to avoid reinforcing or creating negative stereotypes. Instead, demonstrate the friendly, outgoing attitude Western Illinois University students are known for. Here are some ideas:
- Become a "people watcher."
- Be flexible. Remain true to yourself but learn to bend.
- Join various student activities.
Become a keen observer. Immerse yourself in the host culture and record your thoughts. Keeping a journal or diary will provide a running chronology of places you've been, things you've seen or experienced, and the new knowledge you've gained. It will also be a reminder of your time abroad when specific events begin to fade from your memory.
Exercise appropriate caution at all times. You are the one responsible for your physical and emotional safety while abroad so be careful at all times. Remember to:
- Always carry the address and phone number of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate and your host country address.
- Avoid demonstrations or large groups of people.
- Don't wear a lot of U.S. or American-defined clothing.
- Avoid situations that can be physically or emotionally threatening.
- Be especially cautious about your sexual behavior and practices. Observe the host culture carefully, as sexual behavior varies widely from country to country.
- Practice caution if you become intimate with someone.
Make sure your final grade report is sent to us . Ask your host institution to send your official transcript/grade report to:
Office of Study Abroad
Center for International Studies
Western Illinois University
1 University Circle
Macomb, IL 61455-1390 USA
Pay all debts before you depart. Remember that you are responsible for all study abroad expenses. Any remaining debts at your host institution must be resolved before they will release your transcript/grade report. No transcript means no WIU credit until the situation is resolved. In addition, future registration at WIU may be delayed until the bills are paid at the host institution.
Stay in contact with us! Don't hesitate to share your questions and/or concerns but remember to share the good things too. We love to see your pictures, hear about your experiences, and help when we can. You don't have to wait to get back to WIU to start sharing your experience with us!
Preparing for the examination:
Do the required readings.
Learn as much about the final exams as possible. Can you bring in printed materials, notes, or nothing? How long are you permitted to write? Will you be given the essay in advance or receive question parameters? How much of your final grade depends on the final exam?
Prepare yourself by outlining key readings while writing paragraph summaries of less essential readings.
Coping with the essay:
Carefully analyze the essay question(s), regardless of when you receive it.
Divide the actual writing portion of the question from the background material.
Understand exactly what the professor is asking. Are you analyzing, comparing, contrasting, describing, evaluating, etc.? It is important to understand the difference between these command verbs before the test begins.
Preparing your essay response:
Think before you write!
Respond to each command verb.
Organize your ideas. Make a list or short outline, a diagram, or some notes. This will help keep you on track while writing.
Plan your time accordingly. Allow 1/5 of the allotted time for planning your answer, 3/5 for writing, and 1/5 to reread and edit your writing.
Writing the essay:
Relax as much as possible.
Write what you know. Balance generalities with specifics.
To help stay focused, include the essay question in your introductory sentences.
Keep your introduction short. Long, wordy introductions can appear evasive.
Use more "transition" or "organizational" words than you would in a regular essay. Words like "first", "next", "on the other hand", etc. help keep both you and the reader on track.