Navigating a New Culture

So, you made it. The plane landed, you moved into your new apartment or homestay, you've been to your first few weeks of classes—in other words, you have officially embarked on your abroad journey. Here are five tips to help you get the most out of these next few months in your new host culture:

1. Get out and get going

Perhaps the most precious aspect of your time abroad is the time itself…so don’t waste it! Learn to become an early bird as well as a night owl because the liveliness of your new city changes by the hour, and trust me, you'll want to experience it all.

2. There's no such thing as a "routine" abroad

While this may be a concept that is easier said than done, leave your need for routine back in the US! The beauty of being abroad is in the unfamiliarity. Don't fall into the habit of the convenient, but instead make each day a new adventure. Plus, who knows, that new side street you saunter down on your way to class could end up having the city's best cappuccino.

3. Never underestimate the power of positivity

Whether you are darting through the streets trying not to be late for class or you are taking your time wandering back to your apartment at the end of a long day, try and remind yourself just how lucky you are to be in that moment. You are in the midst of a once in a lifetime experience, and while as the saying goes it might not always be easy, it is absolutely worth it.

4. Allow waiters to become teachers and strangers to become friends

Despite the age-old lesson we are taught growing up, some of the most interesting and enlightening people I met in my time abroad were the waiters, shop owners, and complete strangers that I stepped out of my comfort zone to talk to. I'm not saying to hop on the back of every Vespa in Europe, I'm simply saying open yourself up to learning from those you might not have initially anticipated.

5. Lose yourself!

...in your host classes, in the unfamiliar language, on your commute around the city - lose yourself in the true, honest immersion of your new culture. This is your journey - soak in every aspect of it, good and bad, and let it push, humble, and gratify you in ways you did not deem possible. Because trust me, you are going to miss that immensely slow internet connection and full-priced water more than you know once you blink your eyes and you're back here in the States.