Ask the Expert
Taking a Trip Abroad
Illustration of Professor Renée Gosson
Illustration: Joel Kimmel
" "In fall 2018, Professor Renée Gosson was selected as the new director of the Bucknell en France program and currently serves as the program’s Professor in Residence in Tours, France. Having studied abroad in Avignon, France, as a student herself, in addition to conducting research in the French Caribbean, she is no stranger to international travel.
Question 1: What is the best way to travel?
Lightly, meaning pack your bag, then remove one half of its contents. Then remove another half. You can get by with a few pairs of dark pants and a mix of short- and long-sleeve shirts that you can layer.Bring a lightweight windbreaker. Other than absolute essentials — glasses, contact solution, medications — I buy toiletries in-country. And you’ll want to leave room in your bag to bring back a few souvenirs!
Question 2: How do you avoid jet lag?
Get as much rest and drink as much water as possible predeparture and during the flight. Upon arrival, get some fresh air in the daylight. Don’t nap. Eat light meals. Go to bed a bit on the early — but not too early — side. Repeat for the next week!
Question 3: What are some unexpected things you may need to bring?
Your sense of humor. A willingness to take risks. A humbleness, because you will feel like you are 3 years old at times.
Question 4: What are some unexpected things you may need to bring?
There is a difference between seeing and being seen, between visiting a museum collection or just its gift shop, between allowing yourself to be challenged and transformed by an immersion experience or just skimming the surface. The former can only come with a more lengthy stay.
Question 5: Is culture shock inevitable?
Don’t avoid it. That’s where the real learning occurs. Those moments of cultural dissonance are when we learn to decode another culture and to interrogate our own.