You’ve been accepted to a university abroad and you’re ready for a new experience that will change your life. Now it’s time to figure out how to take advantage of the local culture while studying far from home, and how it will affect your own experience and mindset.
Of course, at first, you will feel alone and will likely be worried about not being able to embrace the new culture. But after a while, you will be more confident and ready to experience new situations.
Below we have gathered 10 tips on how to immerse yourself in the local culture while studying in a foreign country.
1. Research about the social niceties of the culture
Before arriving in the country where you are about to study, make sure to learn the basic niceties related to the culture. In this way, it will be easy to interact with locals and to be welcomed.
Take it easy! You don’t need to know everything straight away. Learn some simple phrases like hello, thank you and have a nice day, and it will take you a long way.
2. Have an open mindset and embrace diversity
From the moment you set foot in a place different from home, you need to consider that locals might have a different mindset and lifestyle. For this reason, start with the idea that you’re there to learn something new in terms of relationships, way of communication and life interpretation. Only in this way, you’ll be able to fully immerse yourself in the local culture.
We think that learning from a new culture gives you a broader view on life. It will also have a positive effect on your mindset.
3. Walk around
It sounds boring but walking gives you the chance to see and experience more than you would just sitting in a car of a bus or staying home. You’ll notice way more exciting things, from people and nature to buildings and architecture. Moreover, it will give you the opportunity to draw comparisons between the new culture and your own. You can also find new and exciting places to spend time in alone or with friends.
4. Take a break from your phone
Nowadays, we are constantly on our phones, chatting, calling and posting. This can affect negatively your experience abroad.
Remember that while using your phone, you cannot actively feel what’s happening around you. Set a screen time limit and push yourself to enjoy real life. You can build stronger relationships with people (especially with the ones you don’t know so well yet) when you keep your phone in your pocket and focus solely on the person you are talking with.
NB! However, Google Maps and TripAdvisor are extremely fundamental for your life abroad!
5. Visit bars, restaurants and other public places
One of the best ways to immerse yourself into the local culture while studying abroad is visiting bars and restaurant (keep in mind you’re there also for studying).
We also suggest not going only to the mainstream places, but finding charming places where the locals go. Look for restaurants where you can try traditional dishes; food is also an important part of culture.
Remember: most of the time, these kinds of places are not only nice because of the food but are super cheap too!
Visiting bars and restaurant gives you also the chance to meet people from different places, and locals are more likely to tell you about their own culture and experiences.
6. Visit museums, churches, theaters, etc.
How to learn more about the local culture? Obviously by visiting cultural and historical attractions! Take your time and plan some visits to the most popular attractions where you are living. In this way, you will get more information about the local culture as well as improve your overall knowledge.
Here’s a good tip for you: if you are moving to a place in Europe, check the free museum days. It’s usually the first weekend of the month when most museums have free entrance! Save your money and embrace the culture at the same time.
7. Avoid people from the same nationality
When you arrive in a foreign country for the first time, it’s natural and easy to start approaching people with the same nationality and language.
You are in a situation where your confidence is still not too strong and the thought of striking up a conversation with a stranger sounds scary. Don’t worry, this happens to most students living abroad!
But remember, building relationships only with people from your own country is definitively not the right way to get to know the local culture. At the end of the day, you’ll end up speaking the same language, having same discussions and sharing same ideas as you would do in your own country.
8. Try to learn the local language
Next we cover a difficult point: learning the local language. Of course, if you are studying in a place where English is the most used language and you’re a good English speaker, this tip will be easy for you to follow.
On the other hand, you might be in a country where the local language is completely different from yours and consequently hard to learn.
But you should regard this occasion as a golden opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture and study a new language. (It’s always a plus for your CV!) It will take time and you will get crazy trying to memorize the grammar, but don’t worry, as you are able to have a basic conversation in the local language, your daily life will improve making your experience abroad way better.
9. Find a job or an internship place
If you’re going to live abroad for a time that allows you to combine studies and work, you should push yourself to seek for work or internship.
Start with the idea that work experience is extremely important in terms of dealing with the local culture, improving your soft skills and last but not least, improving your CV (nowadays, companies are looking for people with work experience abroad).
By combining studies, social life and work, you will live almost like a local!
10. Visit local fairs and exhibitions
This is an additional tip I think might be part of the process of immersing yourself in the local culture.
When you have the chance, visit fairs in your city. There you will find local stuff, from food and drinks to clothes and authentic items.
In addition, local fairs often offer cheap products. It might be an amazing and clever way to save money.
There you go!
Now that we have given you tips on how to immerse yourself in the local culture while studying abroad, you are now ready to experience a new and exciting life in another country!
If you haven’t yet found were to study abroad, join the Study Abroad Portal’s Online Open Days webinar to learn more about your future study opportunities.