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10 Tips for Immersing Yourself in the Culture

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AIFS Study Abroad Photo Contest winner in Rome, italy

“Spending time in a foreign country can’t help but open your eyes to the wider world, especially different ways of doing the everyday things that are common across cultures.”

“A Student Guide to Study Abroad” by IIE/AIFS Foundation

In A Student Guide to Study Abroad, the authors discuss how you can enhance your time abroad by immersing yourself in the culture. How do you do that? Here are their tips:

1. Do some cross-cultural preparation

Research the language, the history, the culture and maybe even some current events. What’s going on in the country in which you will soon be living? You don’t have to be an expert, but it will help you understand and make connections if you have an idea.

2. Request cross-cultural training

Talk to us (your study abroad program!) or your study abroad office about how to prepare. If you want to do something academic, sign up for our Global Scholars Program.

3. Seek out others who’ve gone before you

Talk to friends who have studied abroad about their experience! They will be able to walk you through all of the challenges they faced (homesickness! travel mishaps!) and how they overcame them. And talk to alumni from the program you will be attending by logging in to your portal and emailing students who studied where you will be going.

4. Embrace your new home and friends to be made

Choose a homestay if you can, seek out non-American friends, take part in language exchanges organized by your program, and more. Try new foods even if  you think you won’t like them. We hear escargot isn’t that bad!

5. Explore your neighborhood, the campus, and public transportation

Sometimes the best way to learn your city and find interesting places is to get a little lost! Not too lost, but just enough that you will discover how the locals live. Expand your city beyond just where you live and go to school by exploring as much as you can. One of the best ways to do this is via public transportation. Take a bus or a metro line all around to see where it takes you. You will discover new things and new places and the scenery is usually pretty incredible!

Quote "I will learn the names of roads and streets aside from the one my apartment is one" - Carla

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