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5 Ways to Live Like a Local on Study Abroad

March 23, 2016

Living in a new environment can be hard enough, but living in a foreign country is even more challenging. Though it can be easier for some people to make the transition, it’s not the same for everyone. However, the challenges we face in life cannot dictate our experiences. After all, isn’t the goal of studying abroad to become part of the local culture?

Here are 5 ways to become culturally acclimated:

1. Stop looking to find things that are only familiar to you

Spanish church
Spanish church

This is important to note because when we become accustomed to a certain lifestyle, it can be hard to break that cycle. Break out of your comfortable little turtle shell and see your new home for what it is, historically, culturally and socially.

2. Interact with the local crowd

Friends hanging out and overlooking Spanish city.
Friends hanging out and overlooking Spanish city.

This can be hard, but there’s not much of a choice because you will be living in this new community for a while. Personal interactions are important to gain a different perspective on the culture and diminish stereotypes.

3. Find a neighborhood hangout

Spanish restaurant
Spanish restaurant

This is one of the easiest ways to eliminate culture shock for the first few weeks of being in a new country. Once you have that comfort place, you can move on to doing more advanced activities that require more local interaction such as festivals, special holiday celebrations and sporting events.

4. Take advantage of traveling to nearby cities

The Alhambra in Granada, Spain should be on everyone’s Spain bucket list.
The Alhambra in Granada, Spain should be on everyone’s Spain bucket list.

For many people, studying abroad is an exclusive, one-time opportunity so do not take it for granted. Make the most of the opportunity to travel to neighboring countries and cities. We only have one life to live, so why not explore these opportunities?

5. Get involved in cultural and on-campus activities

The track at Universidad Alfonso X el Sabio in Spain.
The track at Universidad Alfonso X el Sabio in Spain.

If you have a specific hobby, such as painting, dancing, sports, playing music or singing, search for local events that pertain to your interest and sign up. Be enthusiastic and willing to learn, and locals will be as interested and willing to help as you seem.

Do not miss out on a great experience because you were too afraid to live in the moment. And remember the words of Buddha, “It is better to travel well than to arrive.”

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