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Cultural Immersion Makes You Less Homesick: 5 Tips for Students Studying Abroad

Posted on Sep 06, 2019
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Studying abroad is one of the most exciting opportunities you will come across in your lifetime, and if tapped correctly can change you in ways that nothing else could ever have. However, the challenges one faces as they are settling in at their new University or College is also quite a real thing. If not the Loch-ness monster for study abroad students, the daunting task of “fitting in” and getting with the flow of things is still the tiny storm that needs some servicing – except that it is not; at least if you don’t want it to be.
Let us explore some prudent options for you so you can fully culturally immerse yourself in your new surroundings. Follow these, and cease to be E.T.:
  1. 1. Learn At Least The Basics of The Local Language
    Language is the most fundamental form of communication. How do you think you would relate and be part of the community without any idea of what they are trying to tell you in the first place? 
We get it – learning a new language can be a daunting task to undertake on top of all the academic pressure that is mounting. However, learning just a little bit – the greetings, the niceties – can go a long way in helping you slowly get a grasp of the language. Some universities also offer language-learning programs for foreign candidates. Make use of these.
    “If all you wanted to do was eat-sleep-college-relax-repeat, you could have just joined a local college. While you are abroad, make the most of it.”
  2. 2. Be Culturally Sensitive
    One way of fitting in is to prevent alienation. It is important to know that different cultures bear different expressions. What is perfectly fine in one culture might be considered crass or undesirable in another. Know what is acceptable or not in the country, and act accordingly.
  3. 3. Attend Local Events
    This cannot be emphasized enough. It is easy to fall into the cycle of eat-sleep-college-internet-repeat, and as lucrative as it might seem, to make the most out of your time abroad, it is a good decision to go out and attend local events. This way you experience their culture first hand outside of your college peers and professors while also making friends outside of that network.
  4. 4. Separate from Your Group Whenever Possible
    As much strength lies in unity of the “different”, there’s utility in the individual. Locals can tend to get intimidated by large groups of foreign teenagers, and thus it might be a smart choice to take that lone walk, solitary lunch and it would be much easier to strike up conversations and interact with the locals.
  5. 5. Be Curious!
    It is not enough to just converse with others. Ask – ask away if you do not know. Curiosity, most importantly, becomes fuel for conversation and leads up to other interactions. Who knows, in asking around at the museum, you might just make a friend.

These are just some sure-fire tips to get you started on your way to becoming a part of the local community over your term abroad. And while your mind sits there conjuring up reasons not to do these, remind yourself – if all you wanted to do was eat-sleep-college-relax-repeat, you could have just joined a local college. While you are abroad, make the most of it.