Intercultural Communication Pre-Departure Learning Course (COM 499)

Welcome to the Study Abroad Pre-Departure Course!

Using this virtual module, we hope you will learn a lot about Spain, Greece, France, and England's communication skills, intercultural adaptabilities needed when studying abroad, and the overall appreciation of the country's cultural differences and what to expect. 

Learning Objectives:

-Understand the cultural differences in the traveling country

-Know how to detect intercultural differences and expectations

-Gain skills necessary to experience the country's culture in a relaxing, but educational way

Preparing to Go Abroad

What to prepare for:

When studying abroad, it is vital to study and prepare material in regards to your travel location. It is important for you to be informed on the following:

-Country's culture, values, communication, identity/religion, the cultural characteristics specific to your host country, common errors visitors make when traveling to the country, language, and intercultural relations

Pre-Departure Checklist:

Module 1: Cross Culture Approach

England & America

SIMILARITIES

-Both speak English

-Melting pot communities

-Democracy and free speech



DIFFERENCES:

England

-More private lifestyles

-Religion: more non-believers

-Self-depreciation is a common characteristic 

-Currency: Pounds

-Government: Parliament 


America

-More open to interaction with strangers

-Religion: more freedom, so very diverse

-High work ethic and patriotism 

-Currency: US Dollar

-Government: Congress


France & America

SIMILARITIES

-Both value time 

-Gneder roles are typically viewed the same

DIFFERENCES

France

-Promoting art as a major area of profession or study

-Often appear unapproachable at first greeting

-Believe in united behaviors

-Education is strict and rigid


America

-Feel art is more of a hobby, not a career 

-Greet individuals with friendly mannerism

-Believe in individualism

-Education involves interactive learning

Greece & America

SIMILARITIES

-National debt responsibilities

-Retirement planning and age

-Gender roles and sexuality is favorable of each other

DIFFERENCES

Greece

-Language: Modern Greek

-Believe strongly in traditions and Greek customs

-Very superstitious 

-Religion: Christian Orthodox



America

-Language: English

-Religion: wide-variety; mainly Christianity 

Spain & America

SIMILARITIES

-Education is a valued, required experience

-Vaccination in children is common

-High volume in Catholic faith


DIFFERENCES

Spain

-Government: Parliament Democracy & Constitutional Monarchy 

-Conserving energy is vital

-Language: Spanish

-Language is important to study


America

-Government: Federal Constitutional 

-Language: English

How to overcome culture Shock

Module 2: Host Country Culture

Exploring England

SOCIAL CUSTOMS & ETIQUETTE

Naming Conventions 

-First name is the 'the Christian name', followed by a middle name and the family name (surname)

Meeting & Greeting

-On the surface, British individuals seem reserved, but are welcoming to visitors

-Proper greeting etiquette: shake hands with all those present, even children

-At social or business meetings: shake hands upon leaving

-Must always greet someone by his or her last name with proper titling, unless told not to

-Hand shakes should be light and friendly, not too firm

Communication Style

-British use both understatement and direct communication 

-'Upper class' use formal protocols 

-Commonly use understatements or 'qualifiers' when speaking

-Communication with people of equal status is direct but modest

-Communication with well-known individuals, like friends or family, is more informal but still reserved

Dining

-Table manners are Continental

-Remain standing until invited to sit down or shown to a particular seat

-Calling out or waving over servers is frowned upon

Visiting a Home

-Ask upon entry wether shoes are permitted in the home or not

-Entertainment in British homes is very common

Taboos

-Do not stare

-Do not ask personal questions regarding wealth or political views

-Do not interrupt converstations 

BRITISH CULTURE & SOCIETY

Religion & Beliefs

-30% Church of England (Christian Protestant); 10% Roman Catholic

-Individuals not associated with Protestantism and Catholicism accept Baptist or Methodist

The Family

-The younger family take care of elderly relatives

-Divorce and same sex couples have been more accepted by society

Social Stratification

-'Aristocracy' (Upper Class)= high ranking in nobility and wealth 

-'Middle Class'

-'Working Class'= white collard

-The middle and working class has become homogeneous in the past few decades since both have access to higher education and business opportunities compared to the past

Gender Roles

-50% + women in the UK work either full or part-time jobs

-3/4 of women in the UK believe household chores should be a shared responsibility 

Exploring France

SOCIAL CUSTOMS & ETIQUETTE

Meeting & Greeting

-Shake hands when first meeting any individual

-Familiar individuals will kiss once on the left cheek and then once on the right(do not lean in first)

-Also greet with 'Bonjour'

-Use Monsieur/Madame when greeting unfamiliar individuals

Visiting a Home

-Dinner guest should  bring gifts when invited to one's home

Dining

-Arms should remain above the table, not below or in one's lap

-Table manners are Continental 

-Finish everything on your plate

-Do not begin dining until the host states, "bon appetite"

SOCIETY & CULTURE

Family Values

-Each member has certain duties/responsibilities 

-Extended family provides both emotional and financial support 

-Families have very few children

Religion

-Catholicism

Relationships

-French are very private

-Only open up to friends and family

-Friendship requires daily contact and considerations

Exploring Greece

SOCIETY CUSTOMS & ETIQUETTE

Meeting & Greeting

-When meeting an unfamiliar individual, it is customary to allow someone to introduce you or your state name

-Shake hands firmly when greeting for the first time

-Kissing an individuals cheek you know very well is also common

-Most Greeks introduce themselves by asking inappropriate questions or by making jokes

Visiting a Home

-Always bring a baked item like bread

Table Manners

-Very casual

-Many discussions occur so be social

-Never refuse food items

-Try to finish everything on the plate


Greek Culture

Religion

-Big part of Greek culutre

-Catholicism 

Family Values

-Family is everything in Greek culture

-Each member actively seeks to help others within the family


Exploring Spain

SOCIAL CUSTOMS & ETIQUETTE

Naming Conventions

-First name followed by paternal surname and then mother's surname

-Women do not change name when they marry

Meeting & Greeting

-When introduced, shake hands

-Once identified, men may embrace and pat each other on the shoulder

-Female friends kiss each other on both cheeks starting with the left

Communication Style

-Physical contact during conversations is accepted form of communication 

-Confrontation is not acceptable 

-Boasting of achievement is not acceptable

-Spanish people are extroverted and friendly 

Personal Space

Men have no fear of personal space with other men

-Hugs and shoulder patting is very common

-Spanish people are open to strangers

Dining

-Remain standing until invited to sit down

-Always keep your hands visible when eating

-Do not begin eating until the hostess starts

-Do not get up until the guest of honor does 

Taboos

-Do not talk about religion

-Do  not plan dinner before 9pm

SPANISH CULTURE & SOCIETY

Religion

-94% Roman Catholic

The Family

-The family is the basis of social structure

-Familial ties are an important aspect of Spanish society

Social Stratification 

-Based on the US/European concepts of class, wealth, and upward mobility

Gender Roles

-Men and women tend to share the parenting and household responsibilities 

Module 3: Extra Information on Host Country

Exploring England

Currency

-UK Pound

-1 British Pound= $1.38 US Dollar

Sports

-Wimbledon Tennis

-NFL London

-Men and Women's FA Cup

Major Celebrations

-Christmas Day (Dec. 25)

-Boxing Day (Dec. 26)

-New Year's Day

-Good Friday

-Easter Sunday 

-Queen's Birthday


Cuisine

-English breakfast

-Fish and chips

-'Meat and two veggies'

Language

-English

Fashion

-Modern Western

Exploring France

Currency

-Euro

-1 Euro= $1.21 US Dollar

Sports

-Football

-Rugby

-Horse Racing

-Sailing

-Cycling

Major Celebrations

-New Year's Day

-May Day

-Victory in Europe Day

-Easter Monday

-Christmas Day

Cuisine 

 -Heavy in sauces and use complicated preparation processes

-Boeuf bourguignon

-Coq au vin

Language

-French

Fashion

-Fashion Capital 

-High-end brands

-haute couture 

Exploring Greece

Currency

-Greek Drachma

-$1 US Dollar= 282.145 GRD

Sports

-Soccer

-Water Polo

-Basketball 

-Volleyball

Major Celebrations

-New Year's Day

-the Epiphany

-March, The Carnival

-Easter

-Christmas Day

-Greek Independence Day

Cuisine

-Combination of seriousness and nostalgia 

-Uses variety of vegetables and meats

-Seafood is common

Language

-Greek

Fashion

-Men dress impeccably

-Women dressed unashamed of their bodies


Exploring Spain

Currency

-Euro

-1 Euro= $1.21 US Dollars

Sports

-Football (Soccer)

-Basketball

-Tennis

-Roller Hockey

-Motor Sports


Major Celebrations

-New Year's Day

-Three Kings' Day

-Day of Andalusia

-Day of Madrid

-Christmas 

Cuisine

-Majority seafood

-Paella

-Tapas

-Tortilla española 

-Pincho 

Language

-Spanish 

Fashion

-Mantilla

-Peineta 

-Modern Western 

Module 4: Study Tools

University of Alabama Communication Courses:

UA Communication Classes Regarding Culture:

-COM 100: Rhetoric & Society

-COM 101: Principles of Human Communication

-COM 220: Interpersonal Communication 

-COM 250: Nonverbal Communication

-COM 340: Rhetoric & Popular Culture

-COM 366: Visual Culture & Communication

-COM 413: Communication & Diversity 

-COM 465: Intercultural Communication

Study Abroad Information: