There are plenty of things to learn when you’re abroad, but you’ll find some cultural differences show face much sooner than others in your study abroad experience. Take filling out all the necessary paperwork to go abroad. Paperwork? I know, I know, but it’s true there’s some paperwork involved (but that’s also why we’re here to help!).
The funny thing is, too, that depending on which country you’re heading off to, you’ll have to prepare your paperwork slightly different than you’re used to here in the states.
What are we talking about exactly? This next tip is a quick rundown of the different ways — in different countries — you’re required to write dates. In the US, you would write today’s date as 8/18/2016. However, the order in which you list the day (DD), month (MM), and year (YYYY) change depending on the country you are in.
“It took me forever to get it right, and by the time I could do it seamlessly it was time to come home. And then I had to learn how to write the date differently all over again!”
— Dominique, Program Advisor: China, France, & New Zealand. USAC Alumna: Melbourne & Pau
We’ve found this Wikipedia page to be fairly helpful when trying to figure out how a certain country write its dates.
The next question we usually field during advising is, why is the US different?
TL;DR In the US we like to do things differently.
We don’t use the metric system because of something to do with manufacturing and high-end machine tools, or the 24hr clock, unless you are in the military — this link doesn’t answer why, but it’s an amusing thread to read about 12 hour vs 24 hour time on Reddit.
There’s some speculation as to why the US writes its dates MM-DD-YYYY, but nevertheless, “Let’s face it, it’s weird. Basic group behavior shows it’s weird.”
What we can tell you is that we in the US have our own cultural differences as much as the next country you’ll visit. So our recommendation? Do a little research about your program’s country. Learn the numbers. Familiarize yourself with how they write the date, time, weights/measures, currency, exchange rate, etc.
Hopefully this will save you a few headaches along the way, and it’s another reason our advisors are here to help you along the way!
If you thought this post was helpful, imagine what you can find out by visiting your home university’s study abroad office! Additionally, you can always shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do our best to answer your burning study abroad questions.