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In-Country Responsibilities


Buckeyes in BrazilYour education abroad coordinator will inform the host institution or travel provider of your arrival time. The host institution or provider will make arrangements to meet you and the students at the airport or train station (for most programs).

Within 12 hours after arrival, please notify your education abroad coordinator (email or phone call) that all students have arrived safely. This is critical since the Office of International Affairs regularly receives phone calls from anxious parents who want to know if their son or daughter has arrived safely. Your education abroad coordinator will send a “safe arrival” email to parents after hearing from you.

Encourage your students to phone home shortly after arrival. In these times of heightened concern about international travel, families want to be assured of safe arrival.

Relationship with Host Institution, Travel Agent/Vendor or Guide

Establishing and maintaining positive relationships with host institution administrators, instructors, travel agent/vendors and/or guides ranks high among resident director responsibilities. The resident director serves as the key liaison between the Office of International A airs and the host institution. Make sure you meet key host institution personnel immediately a er your arrival to the host institution. Be available to administrators, instructors and/or travel agencies/vendors. They will have questions for you and will appreciate your suggestions and insights.

In-Country Orientation

You and the host institution or travel provider are responsible for providing in-country orientation to Ohio State students shortly after arrival to the program site. The importance of the in-country orientation to both students and the resident director cannot be underestimated. Please be an active participant in the in-country orientation. Orientation topics to be covered include:

  • Review of program objectives and behavioral/academic expectations and responsibilities (including Group Expectations Contract)
  • Review of daily schedule, daily or weekly group meetings, program calendar and excursions
  • Residence hall (or other) rules and meal schedule
  • Emergency procedures
  • How to contact Ohio State resident director and host country coordinator after hours (use OIA emergency card)
  • Local safety guidelines
  • Local health precautions and review of local health facilities
  • Telephone instruction: how to make and receive local and international calls
  • Internet access
  • Program guidelines for independent, off-site travel (if allowed)
  • Walking tour of host institution and facilities
  • Walking or bus tour of host city or town
  • How to use transportation

Please discuss and review in-country orientation with your host institution or travel provider shortly after you arrive to your program site.

Health, personal safety, drug and alcohol issues and conduct are always included in pre-departure orientations. During the in-country orientation for your students, please review these topics again. Key points include:

  • Students must abide the laws and regulations of their host country
  • The Ohio State University Code of Student Conduct extends to and includes education abroad students for the duration of the program including free time
  • Dress and behavior should be discreet, not attention-getting
  • Personal conduct can directly affect how the local people treat and perceive students

Encourage your students to sharpen their observation and listening skills so that they can learn acceptable modes of behavior and other cultural nuances. Encourage them to discuss their concerns and observations directly with you.

Routine Communication and Weekly Reports to OIA

Winter or Spring Break Study Abroad Programs

China Global May education abroad programAs resident director of a winter or spring break study abroad program, please have the following minimum communications (by phone or email) with your education abroad coordinator: 

  • Arrival notification
Departure notification
  • Any student health or medical concerns, or disturbances affecting the well-being of the students
Emergency notification as needed

Regular Length Study Abroad Programs:

As resident director of a regular length study abroad program, you are required to email weekly reports to your education abroad coordinator. The following is the type of information that should be included in your report:

  • Arrival notification
  • Home stay and/or residence hall addresses and phone numbers for students
  • Brief description of student and program activities
  • Progress the program is making toward its educational and academic objectives
  • Any student health or medical concerns or disturbances affecting the well-being of the students
  • Unanticipated program expenses
  • Emergency notification as needed

Supervision of Programs, Academics and Activities

Resident directors are expected to be fully engaged in all in-country activities of the education abroad program. You are expected to:

  • Attend classes with the students
  • Participate on program field trips
  • Be available for student and host institution/travel provider consultation

Encourage students to attend all classes and required program activities. They may need reminders from time to time that they are on an education abroad program, not just a living abroad experience. Students may have concerns about cultural differences in classroom instruction and grading. As the resident director, you can help them understand and adapt to the differences. Your presence ensures the academic integrity of the study abroad program. Your insights into course content, classroom instruction and program structure contribute to the success of the education abroad program.

Daily or Weekly Group Meetings

Winter or Spring Break Study Abroad Programs:

Buckeyes in CopenhagenMany Ohio State resident directors for winter or spring break programs recommend having brief daily meetings in the morning to discuss the day’s activities and/or in the evening for reflection.

Regular Length Study Abroad Programs:

Weekly group meetings are strongly encouraged. Group meetings can serve as an important vehicle for good communication between you and the students. Encourage students to share their thoughts, complaints and experiences. You can respond to concerns, monitor group morale and share any changes in field trips or class schedule. It may also be helpful to remind students what is expected of them during both program and free time. Weekly group meetings are a good time to ask students to complete the Off-Site Travel Form if they plan to travel away from the program site.

Group Communication

If your group will have access to Wi-Fi, consider using a messaging app to send out reminders to the group such as departure times, daily schedules or other notifications. Some mobile apps that have been successfully used include WeChat, WhatsApp, GroupMe, Viber and Snapchat.

Students and Off-Site Independent Travel

Some Ohio State study abroad programs do not permit off-site, independent travel due to time constraints and/or safety concerns. If your program does not permit off-site travel, please inform your students of this policy in advance and in the syllabus and the Group Expectations Contract. This policy, of course, must be communicated to your education abroad coordinator. If your program is one in which off-site, independent travel is permissible during weekends and/or holidays, students who wish to travel are required to inform you in advance and in writing of their travel plans. The Office of International Affairs will provide you with copies of the Off-Site Travel Form for students to complete prior to their independent travel. Always encourage students to travel in groups of two or more. Make sure that they have your 24-hour contact information before they leave. Retain the Off-Site Travel Forms that are submitted to you.

Student Conduct In-Country and Role of the Resident Director

Prepare yourself for the same questions over and over again from students. By necessity, you must be extraordinarily patient with them. Students will naturally pass through phases in their attitudes toward you, the program and the host culture. At times they may become negative about the experience, so it is important for you to remain positive and firm about the value of the program and the validity of the host country’s culture. Adjusting to a new culture is expressed in a variety of ways, and virtually everyone who lives abroad experiences distinct phases of personal adjustment. Teach by example; students will watch to see how you handle cultural differences and challenges.

Responding to the emotional and mental adjustment issues that some students develop is a challenge for every resident director. Should the need arise, you are encouraged to contact the Office of International Affairs for advice. Here are some suggestions which may minimize problems experienced by your students:

  • Communicate frequently with all members of your group
  • Keep a close eye on students who isolate themselves from the group and show signs of loneliness and/or want to be alone
  • Build group cohesion through group activities and include both informal and formal discussions
  • Never display actions which could be misconstrued as preferential treatment and/or favoritism to an individual student and/or group(s) of students
  • Establish a sensible pacing of group activities to reduce fatigue
  • Encourage students to eat at regular intervals, drink plenty of water and establish a sensible sleep schedule

Group Dynamics

Study abroad programs by definition are intensive in nature. Students (and resident directors) can get on each other’s nerves after extended periods of time together. You may need to settle conflicts or boost the morale of the group when it is low. Remind the students that they need to be respectful of their classmates, give each other space, keep frustrations to themselves, speak up when something is bothering them and not sweat the small stuff.

Students may need occasional reminders to keep things in perspective. Time and energy spent on small concerns can distract from the experience of living in another culture. Remain aware that your own behavior and actions are being observed at all times by the students. Do not demonstrate behavior or take actions that could be misconstrued as favoritism or preferential/ differential treatment.