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5 Tips for Becoming More Culturally Educated While Living Abroad.

August 31, 2018 by  
Filed under Money/Business, Travel/Leisure, Weekly Columns

( From climates, customs and cuisines, there’s a lot to take in when you find yourself living in a totally new country. 

But ask yourself: are you truy taking the time to appreciate the local culture as an expat? 

Sure, there’s a lot to focus on when you’re living abroad. 

Maybe you’re a student that’s completely coursework overseas. Perhaps you’re laser-focused on work and providing payments to family back home. 

Either way, you should strive to make your own cultural education a priority while abroad. 

After all, few people have the opportunity to fully immerse themselves somewhere new. The experiences, memories and insights you’ll gain during your expat journey are truly unique: don’t let them go to waste. 

As such, here are five quick tips for becoming more culturally educated and aware no matter where you might currently call “home.” By adhering to these principles, you can enrich yourself on a day-to-day basis and ultimately make the most of your experience abroad. 

Be Mindful and Respectful 

First and foremost, it’s important not be that that expat. 

You know, the one that treats their new country like it’s one big vacation spot. 

The first step toward cultural awareness is respecting and paying attention to your surroundings. That is, observe others, their behaviors, their body language and how they speak. You can get a better understanding for social situations simply by observing and being present in the moment. 

Be open-minded to different customs and be ready for a bit of culture shock along the way. Likewise, don’t be surprised if you feel uncomfortable or out of your element from time to time: it comes with the territory of being an expat. 

Become Fluent in Your Host Country’s Language 

As it should come as no surprise, immersing yourself in a new language is perhaps one of the most important steps toward understanding a new culture. 

Like, literally. 

It’s impossible to properly mingle and form relationships with locals if you can’t effectively communicate. Beyond studying on your own time either through books, apps or programs, consider a sort of “total immersion” approach by spending time out and about. 

Read Some Local Literature 

Piggybacking on the last tip, taking the time to read some local literature both solidifies your language knowledge and gives you an authentic sense of your new homeland. 

Learning to read in a foreign language can be tricky and requires patience and practice, sure. That said, it’s a skill that you’ll appreciate forever once you’ve mastered it. 

Sample as Much Local Cuisine as You Can 

Culture and food go hand in hand. As Americans, it’s easy to stereotype or reduce international cuisine to just a dish or two. However, all culture have a multitude of dishes to try and going outside of your comfort zone is a must if you truly want to appreciate your local offerings. 

Squid? Haggis? Eel? Don’t be afraid to be adventurous!  

Besides, getting to know a new country through its cuisine does double duty of allowing you to explore and learn a thing or two about local culture. 

Visit a Church, Temple or Shrine 

Religion is easily one of the most important aspects of any culture, especially if you’re going from the Western world to the East and vice-versa.  

Even if you aren’t practicing the faith in question, you can still take the time to see and experience the unique religious structures in your area. As noted by etiquette for visiting a shrine or temple, make sure that you are respectful and do a bit of homework to ensure that visitations are permitted. 

Living abroad represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn and appreciate new culture firsthand. When you keep an open mind and stick to the tips above, absorbing that culture becomes second nature.  

Staff Writer; Jerry Ford

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