While every aspect of study abroad can be very intimidating, navigating a new culture can be one of the most frightening and difficult things. New customs, language barriers, and awkward situations are all things you will have to adapt to during your experience living abroad. Here are some tips as to how you can cope with these differences.
First and foremost, you must remain open-minded. Be open to trying new things and new places. Instead of always sticking around the touristy areas that are typically more westernized, venture outside of them to try somewhere more traditional or local. Cultures vary by country and within countries. Some may be more similar to what you have come to know here in the U.S., but more than likely throughout your experience abroad you will find many differences between the host culture and your own. Whether it is the manner of greeting someone or the way you hold your eating utensils, the best advice is to at least try it out and mind cultural norms.
Additionally, you have to consider the situation from local perspective. If you are unsure of a certain custom or are not confident as to how to act in a particular setting, observe your peers to see how they comport themselves, and most importantly, do not hesitate to ask questions. Although you may have become accustomed to acting in a certain way, it may be considered rude or offensive in your host culture. Asking questions shows that you are taking an interest in learning their culture and oftentimes people will be glad to answer them. It also avoids any potentially awkward situations you may put yourself in.