What do you want to accomplish while you are abroad? Read below for ideas on how to maximize your experience and get involved with the local culture.
Get Involved and Learn about the Culture
- “When in Rome”! Get involved - join language clubs, student groups, and other special interest clubs.
- Take a class about the local culture and history.
- Take advantage of excursions provided by your overseas university to get out and learn more about the country.
- Acknowledge big and small differences between your host culture and back home such as interpersonal communication, eating habits, transportation, and other customs.
- Many local city guides and magazines are available with information about activities, street fairs, concerts, art exhibits, restaurants, and other local events at a low cost or even free! See travel information for ideas.
- Use the language by interacting with locals. If English is the predominant language, learn the slang they use.
- Explore! Explore! Explore!
Dealing with Culture Shock
- Be aware that culture shock will happen and prepare for it by learning and accepting the new culture
- Deal with it like any other stress: get out and about, listen to music, talk with friends
- Interpret the new culture: Ask yourself “Based on what I know, I think it means this. But my thinking is based on my assumptions. What else could it mean? Are my assumptions valid?”
- Consider altering your point of view or at least consider another view
- Be as patient, flexible and cooperative as possible. Use courtesy expressions often.
- Stay involved by engaging yourself in local activities
- Form and maintain friendships in the community
- Keep a cultural diary (gain a fresh perspective and learn more about yourself)
Read more about culture shock