Students experience a huge culture shock when they go to study abroad. They need to face with new language and food, different mentality and local customs – all at the same time. It takes quite some time to get used to all that but there are a few convenient ways to prepare for the next step in your life without ever having to leave your hometown. Check out this post to find out how!
Simple ways to meet a new culture
Just a couple of decades ago, students simply had to go and find out everything about a specific culture on site. Luckily enough, now you have the Internet to help you experience a new civilization. Here’s how.
- Read books from your target culture
Reading books in a local language is one of the best ways to prepare for studying abroad. First of all, it’s the most intuitive way to figure out the grammar, which is the basic precondition of language learning. Native speakers may sound relaxed and unburdened with grammar in everyday speech but it’s simply because they take it for granted. You, on the other hand, must put some extra efforts to handle the rules.
Additionally, local language books will help you expand vocabulary and learn a lot of useful phrases. Things we speak are way too simplified to be considered a true essence of the language. Writers make their text meaningful and distinguished. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should start with the most complex written works. Instead, search it out and find appropriate books which use relatively simple language to enrich your knowledge.
- Watch movies in your target language
Foreign language movies are a great way to introduce to both the local language and culture. It offers all sorts of privileges – you can learn simply by watching a nice TV show or a movie, you are free to choose the most interesting genre, and you can pause and continue whenever necessary. And you don’t have to be in this country at all, all it takes is Internet connection.
You get to learn a lot of new words and phrases by understanding the context of a movie. Furthermore, films are a great way to meet local customs and daily habits of your fellow students. Since you’ll be studying abroad, you’ll probably want to find new friends to hang out with and there is no better way to understand what local peers prefer than watching movies about them.
- Take a cooking class of your target culture cuisine
Surprising as it may seem, taking a cooking class of any local cuisine can help you learn a lot about the country’s history, tradition, and of course the food. Using only Internet tutorials, you get to learn about the most popular local specialties, common ingredients and spices, and unusual domestic dishes. It is also good to know what sorts of food are forbidden or very rare in the country of your choice.
At the same time, food is always a reflection of the country’s agriculture, history, geography, and the economy in general. It perfectly presents the ways in which the country has been developing and influences coming from neighboring cultures.
- Find an online language exchange partner
Language exchange means that you find a person who speaks the language you want to learn and who you can teach your native tongue in exchange. It’s a win-win method for both persons involved and it’s gaining worldwide popularity in recent years. The fact that both parties are dealing with pretty much the same problems in language learning will make you both explain things better to each other.
This is also a wonderful way to find a language partner who can teach you about your target culture. Through online conversations about the two cultures, you can comprehend the rules of foreign languages much easier. Don’t underestimate the fact that language exchange platforms allow you to choose the right kind of partner in terms of languages and personal interests or passions. Some of the most popular free language exchange platforms are italki and Speaky.
Couchsurfing is widely known as a platform where you can find a free place to spend a night in a strange city or offer a couch for a stranger at your own place. There are several ways you can use this awesome platform for culture exchange:
- Host a foreigner at your place,
- Go to a weekly couchsurfing meeting in your city where you can meet people from all over the world,
- Post an event on the platform that you would like to hang out with people from certain countries.
Terry Roe, a content writer at BestDissertation.com who studied Japanese by finding a language partner through Couchsurfing, gave us an appropriate explanation: “Couchsurfing is really a mixture of all sorts of experiences and you can never tell what is going to happen next time. But if you really want to learn about the foreign culture, there is no better way to do it than to join this extraordinary community of open-minded individuals.”
Global exchange programs gave the opportunity to thousands of students to study abroad and meet new cultures and languages. However, it is rather difficult to face the new country and give up your long-time habits. The best way to deal with this is to prepare and you can do it even without leaving your hometown. From reading foreign language books to Couchsurfing – just give our tips a try and you’ll make a great preparation for studying abroad.
Steven Wesley is an ESL teacher, ed tech enthusiast and education blogger. He is interested in educational, technological and political issues and believes in the mighty power of the pen to change the modern world. Follow him on Twitter.