Regardless of how you personally identify yourself, it is important to understand that while you are abroad you are an ambassador representing both the United States and GVSU. Individuals from the host country may use you as an example of U.S. culture in general and GVSU students in particular.
They may make judgments about U.S. social and professional etiquette. It is important to be respectful and act accordingly at all times. Your actions, both positive and negative, are likely to have long-term repercussions for GVSU and future participants.
Be a good student. After all, you are studying abroad. Attend all classes, do your homework carefully and diligently, and show respect to your professors.
Show a genuine interest in the host country. Learn as much as you can about the country to which you are going, and continue to ask questions once you arrive.
Avoid expressing negative opinions or generalizations about the host country. Such statements usually serve only to reveal the ignorance of the speaker. If you are studying in a non-English speaking country, try to learn as much of the language as possible. If you are studying in an English-speaking country, be sensitive to differences in dialect. Remember that you are the guest in someone's home, school, and country. Be respectful and courteous!
Be well informed about the current events happening in the U.S., in Michigan, and even in your hometown. As you meet new acquaintances and make friends, you will be asked about a variety of issues related to U.S. culture, politics, history, geography, and social environments. Educating yourself about U.S policies and cultural news will enable you to speak eloquently about complex and sometimes controversial topics. This dialogue and exchange will inevitably enhance and enrich your experience and deepen your friendships.
For more information about being a good representative of the U.S. while abroad, refer to the Glimpse Foundation's guide on American Identity Abroad.