Activity Information
Recommended Audience Study Abroad,could be adapted for other audiences
Length of Time 15 minutes
Resources Chairs for participants
Number of Participants 5-50
Source of Activity Guided visualization composed by Glenn Cerosaletti
Purpose To help participants envision various stages of their overseas study experience


Script for Guided Visualization for Study Abroad Pre-departure Orientation

[Presenter should sit. Perhaps play quiet background music.]

I'm going to lead you in an activity to help you imagine your study abroad experience. In a moment, we'll dim the lights, and I'll serve as a sort of tour guide for an imaginary trip through your study abroad semester (or year). The purpose of this activity is to help you prepare mentally for the possibility of travelling abroad next semester. Obviously, it's impossible to know just what you'll encounter, but you can at least become aware of what your expectations are. If you're still unsure about whether you'll even go abroad next semester, this activity might be useful in helping you envision what it would be like. If you don't know exactly where you'll go, for the purpose of this exercise, focus on one possible destination.

Please go ahead and dim the lights…To begin, please sit up in your chairs, but remain relaxed. You may want to close your eyes; do whatever is comfortable for you. In a moment, I'll ask you to take a deep breath and hold it briefly, then let it out. As you're letting it out, let go of anything that may be weighing on you right now, whether it's an exam that you need to study for, or a paper that you need to write, or another meeting that you need to attend in a little while. Put all of those things aside for a moment. Now go ahead and take a deep breath, and then let it out…

Now imagine yourself in your room at home. Imagine that you're packing your bags for your trip. The bags are all packed and set to go. Now get one more empty bag. In that bag, put all of the things you're leaving behind. Maybe it's your computer. Maybe you need to leave behind your cell phone because it won't work overseas. Maybe you're leaving behind your favorite pair of pants, or a stuffed animal or a jersey for your favorite basketball team. Maybe you're leaving behind a girlfriend or a boyfriend. Surely you're leaving family and friends; perhaps sorority sisters or fraternity brothers. Pack all of these things you're leaving behind into the bag, and close it and carefully set it in the closet. It'll be there when you get back.

Now several days have gone by, and you have departed. Imagine yourself arriving at the airport overseas. You're just getting off the plane at your final destination after sitting through a long flight. How does it feel to be there? You must be tired, but exhilarated, too. Look around. What do you see? What language are people speaking? What signs do you see that tell you you're in another country? How do you feel? Are you excited, anxious, or some of both? Where do you need to go from here? Where is the baggage claim area? Take a moment to think about arriving at your destination.

Now imagine that several weeks have gone by, and you have started your study abroad program. Most likely, you've gone through an orientation, and you've met the program director, and the other program staff. You've also met the other U.S. students on the program, and you've had the chance to meet some people from your host country. Envision yourself in a classroom on your program. Who else is there? Who is teaching the class? What sort of class is it? Is it a large lecture class or a small seminar? How is the class going? Is it boring, or do you feel engaged by the material? There's a window on one side of the classroom, and for a moment, look out the window and take in the view. What do you see? What’s the weather like? Perhaps your window looks out across a large city with elaborate architecture. Perhaps your window gives you a view of other campus buildings at your study abroad site. Perhaps it looks out on a cobblestone street, with cars passing below. Whatever the view, take a moment to enjoy it.

Now a couple months have gone by, and you're sitting at a café, at a table on the sidewalk at your study abroad site. It's your last full day on your study abroad program-tomorrow is your return flight to the U.S. It's early evening, and the sun is setting. You can feel the warmth of the sun on your skin. Breathe in and take in the smells in the air around you. Remember this moment.

Take a moment to reflect upon your time abroad. How has it been for you? What have you accomplished? How did your classes go? Did you learn a lot? How have you changed? Was it an easy semester? Who did you meet? Did you make new friends? How will you remember this place? Take in the ambiance for a moment, one last time before you leave.

Now imagine that you're back in Rochester, after your study abroad experience. A new semester is underway, and you're busy with a new schedule of classes at UR. How does it feel to be back on campus? How are your friends? Did they miss you? Maybe some of them have graduated since you left. Does the campus seem familiar? Everything is pretty much the same as it was before you left. But it doesn't quite look the same as it did before. What's different? Things stayed the same, but your perspective has changed.

Now imagine that you're back in the May Room in the fourth floor of Wilson Commons. And when you're ready, come back to the present. Slowly open your eyes, and stretch your arms and legs...Take your time… Welcome back!

How did it go? Again, the purpose of this activity was to help you to envision what it will be like to study abroad next semester, and to help you begin to anticipate some of the things you're likely to encounter during the process. I hope it was helpful.


Closing thoughts

Remember: you’re about to embark upon a journey that could change the course of your life. You might make new friends that will last a lifetime; you might learn a new language; you might fall in love; you might gain a new sense of patriotism; you might undertake a new research project, or be inspired to learn a new sport. Each one of you has it within your power to realize any or all of those possibilities. So we want to impress upon you this great sense of freedom, and also the responsibilities that come with it. Please let us know how we can help along the way.