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Mentor Advice

Question

How do you adapt to a new culture when abroad?

4 Replies from Mentors

  • mentor picture Marie
     
    Marie
    Senior Year Student
    Loyola Marymount University
    Be open-minded and patient! Accept the fact that that particular way is how they do things in...
    Be open-minded and patient! Accept the fact that that particular way is how they do things in that country and that it is going to be different from your own. Acknowledge the differences.
  • mentor picture Ana Campos
     
    Ana Campos
    Associate Director, Office of Undergraduate Student Housing
    University of Chicago
    I think the easiest way to do so is to be open to everything about it, to not judge it, and to not...
    I think the easiest way to do so is to be open to everything about it, to not judge it, and to not compare it with what you are accustomed to. Whatever the traditions, customs, and social mores of the people that you are now living with, you are best off observing them, and incorporating those that you are able to in your every day interactions as soon as possible, rather than complaining about them or resisting them. For instance, if you are a woman visiting a country where women are subservient and do not look men in the eye. As much as that may feel “wrong” or just plain difficult to do for some from the western tradition, your transition into the culture will be smoother and you will gain more from the experience if you can do it out of respect for their culture and ways, rather than feeling like you are somehow compromising your own belief system. Look at it from their perspective - their lens - not your own. Exerting this extra energy to learn and observe can result in culture shock. I think the best way to handle those feelings is to spend some time with your fellow compatriots, if there are some available and it is possible, from time to time so that you are not always feeling like the odd one out in the beginning. Spending time with people where you do not have to exert the extra energy to remember what are new traditions and ways of behaving will re-energize you.
  • mentor picture Irene
     
    Irene
    Junior Year Film Production Major
    Loyola Marymount University
    The most important thing is to be open-minded. Enjoy the experience and learn as much as you can....
    The most important thing is to be open-minded. Enjoy the experience and learn as much as you can. Do research before hand on the local culture so that everything won’t be such a shock when you arrive. If you live with a host family, ask them a lot of question because they probably love talking about their culture and will be happy to share it with you. Another good thing to do is get to know the locals. Just remember to be open to everything and you will find yourself immersed in the culture in no time.
  • mentor picture Amelia
     
    Amelia
    Senior Year Student
    University of California, Los Angeles
    Adapting to a new culture requires patience and flexibility. Without embracing these two qualities...
    Adapting to a new culture requires patience and flexibility. Without embracing these two qualities everyday, adapting can become difficult. You should expect to assimilate into the society after a few weeks, but full integration can take months or even years to accomplish--so don't worry if you are not entirely connected with the people after a short while. What is important is to continue to respect the people and the culture, and eventually, you will adapt to the lifestyle and culture.
 
 
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