4 Replies from Mentors
MarieSenior Year StudentLoyola Marymount UniversityMy friends and I occasionally ate at the student cafeteria where we met many students. This became our “usual” lunch hangout when we did not eat in the city’s restaurants. Before or after class and during the weekends, we frequented a couple of cafes and so over time employees recognized us as “regulars.” Sometimes I met people in restaurants, particularly when it was crowded, since there is no problem being seated with strangers. Usually, we would politely ignore each other but there were times that the strangers would overhear my friends and me talking and want to practice their English.
SaraStudent Program CoordinatorUSC Master of Education ProgramIn my program, American students were often housed together and placed in classes together away from the Irish students. While it was comfortable to be surrounded by people from my home country, I found this frustrating because I felt I missed out on a lot of interaction with local students. During my second semester I requested housing with Irish students. I also researched different course options that had more Irish students enrolled. I was able to interact much more with local students when I stepped outside of my comfort zone.
Ana CamposAssociate Director, Office of Undergraduate Student HousingUniversity of ChicagoI found the best ways to do this were to meet other students in the Universities that I attended, and to do what the locals do – which in my case meant spending the afternoons in various bars/cafes socializing and talking, and then going out dancing in the evenings. In addition, I also advertised that I would like to be a Language Buddy so that I could practice my foreign language with a local, and they could practice English with me. We would speak for 30 minutes in one language, and then 30 minutes in the other. This way I made new local friends, and was introduced to their circle of friends as well. Lastly, I spent a lot of time with my host families and tried to attend any of the familial activities to which I was invited. Meeting their extended family and friends always provided additional opportunities to learn about the culture of the country I was in, and make stronger connections with my host family.
AmeliaSenior Year StudentUniversity of California, Los AngelesThe best way to interact with locals and immerse yourself into a foreign culture is to learn the language. I learned Turkish when I went to Turkey for four months. Although I am not fluent in any way, I tried my best to manage the colors, numbers, basic phrases, and conversation pieces (eg. I go to school in California, I am American, I love Turkey). The key to gaining the locals' trust in you is to learn the language, because that will eliminate the barrier of foreign identity to them. You will be surprised with how welcoming people become once you are able to relate to them in the same tongue!