Study Abroad - Aix Health and Wellness

IAU College maintains a healthy environment and culture by establishing policies and procedures that promote and support wellness of mind, body and spirit to all students.

The Wellness Program includes resources for accurate health information on cultural adjustment issues, alcohol and other drug use, sexual health, physical and mental wellness, violence prevention and other areas of student wellbeing. Through collaboration within IAU and out in the community, our comprehensive Wellness Program promotes intelligent and healthy behavioral choices for students, faculty, staff and administration.

Students may also visit the Safety and Security page for guidelines and recommendations on how to stay safe and healthy in their new environment.

"Wellness is a connection of paths: knowledge and action." - Joshua Welch

Wellness is about balancing work and play and this video offers just that: a playful tour of IAU with a peek at administration, faculty, staff and students exploring the other side of the academic rigor and cultural immersion that IAU offers. 

Be Ready. Get Set. Go Abroad! 

  • Have confidence in your ability to adjust to a new situation. (Remember freshman year? You already have some tools!)

  • Stay curious - about your own responses and the situations you experience. 

  • Avoid negative thought patterns - they are giving you a signal that you are trying to manage difficult feelings that are arising.

  • Maintain an attitude of contribution - to your IAU community, your homestay family and the community of Aix.

Remember: the staff, faculty and wellness program are here to support you. 

Navigating Your Cultural Transition

The tension and stress you may experience during your cultural transition and adjustment is absolutely normal. How you respond to this very predictable stress depends on your experience and the personal tools you possess that can help you make a healthy shift to your host culture during your study abroad experience. 

  • Start right where you are: pay attention to your own feelings and behavioral responses as you step into this experience. 

  • Stay curious about what is happening to you that creates stress or tension. What triggered a feeling of anger or worry or sadness?

  • Keep a journal of your experience to chart your cultural growth.

  • Learn to manage the stress that arises through healthy choices:

    • Diet and exercise

    • Remember to breathe! 

    • Create quiet "down time" in your day

    • Pay attention to your thought patterns

    • Be mindful of health and safety issues

Are You in a Cultural Transition? 

Transitions tend to create stress in human beings. Our natural response to stress is fight or flight and a series of physiological responses occur that prepare the body for one of those choices. The transition of adjusting to a new culture can evoke a similar stress-response. Some common signs that you are in a cultural transition are:

  • Feeling homesick

  • Isolating/cutting yourself off from others

  • Depression or sadness 

  • Irritability/short temper 

  • Anxiety

  • Changes in sleeping and eating patterns

  • Feeling angry toward host culture

  • Loss of concentration/drop in grades

  • Missed classes

  • Physical symptoms of illness

  • Eating disordered behavior 

  • Binge drinking

Cultural Transitions: Highs & Lows

Making a cultural transition is a process, not an event. In fact, that process started when you made the decision to study abroad - you began with a curiosity and a leap into the unknown.

Successful adjustment is about embracing the entire journey:

  • Pre-departure preparation 

  • In-country experience

  • And finally, re-entry and beyond.

Navigating that journey requires that you maintain a sense of curiosity - about yourself as you grow and change, about others you meet and with whom you will find interesting differences and similarities and in your return, about how you will integrate your rich experience abroad into your friend and family relationships back in your home culture. 


Students enjoy exploring their new environment

Students enjoy exploring their new environment

Resources available for support:

  • Weekly confidential discussion group around themes of cultural adjustment and related topics, check the schedule on The Troubadour and sign up by email.
  • Director available by way of email and telephone for all health and wellness related issues during your time at IAU. Students are provided with Professor Martin's phone contact during orientation.

Contact

Professor Anabelle Martin, DESS
Wellness coordinator
Clinical psychologist

iauwellness@iaufrance.org