Moving to a new part of the country can be difficult enough, but trying to adjust to an entirely new part of the world along with a new language can be downright overwhelming–especially as a young college student. On top of the general unfamiliarity of your surroundings, you’ll likely have to overcome language barriers throughout your stay as well. Although this experience can be an exciting opportunity to learn about new cultures and customs, it can be a lot to take on at one time. Time will naturally make this adjustment easier, but you can speed up this process and become more comfortable with your surroundings with the following tips.
- Invest in Travel Insurance
One major source of anxiety can be not having insurance coverage while you’re abroad, which would turn any accident into an absolute disaster. Fortunately, you can purchase travel insurance for students at a budget-friendly price to keep you covered while you’re overseas. Although this expense may take away a bit more from your monthly income, it protects you from having to pay a huge amount if you need emergency medical attention.
- Connect with Your Host Family
Since you’ll be living with your host family throughout the entire semester, you’ll want to break the ice as soon as possible to help build a comfortable environment and create strong bonds with individuals from a completely different culture. One of the best ways to do this is to learn the language of your host family, since it will be impossible to communicate with one another on a deep level if you literally can’t speak their language. In addition to speaking the language, be sure to practice proper guest etiquette by helping out with the chores, refraining from using items that don’t belong to you and maintaining a polite demeanor toward the other members of the household.
- Go on Guided Tours
You won’t be able to properly orient yourself at your new location if you don’t have a basic understanding of how to get around, which is why a guided tour is an excellent method for familiarizing yourself with the area and gaining more independence in your host country. This is especially important if you still haven’t quite mastered the language, since reading signs likely wouldn’t be as helpful if a tour guide weren’t there to translate for you.
- Research Cultural Norms
Culture is more than just native dishes and entertainment choices–it’s a way of life. If you want to feel more apart of your surroundings, you have to be willing to “do as the Romans do” to fully adapt to this new area. Knowing cultural norms beforehand will not only prevent you from making an embarrassing mistake, it can also reduce your chances of offending someone as well. Not to mention that practicing cultural norms will allow you to become fully engaged in your new home-away-from-home, which leads to a more fulfilling overall experience.
Studying abroad is one of those experiences that shapes both your education and your life in a compelling way, making all of the adjustments necessary to take full advantage of this opportunity worth it. Learning about a new culture can also allow you to see your own culture in a different light and give you a broader understanding of the world you live in. With just these four simple tips, your host nation will feel just like home before you know it.
She enjoys baking red velvet cupcakes and walking her puppy, Pete.