Study Abroad 101: How to Prepare for Travel With CulturaGoDec 05, 2021
Deciding to study abroad is exciting, and you are bound to have an adventure. But, as you’ll probably know by now: a lot goes into making sure your time overseas will be a success. And it’s not all VISA applications and shopping for school supplies.
In an effort to prepare for studying abroad, you’ll undoubtedly get tips from loads of different people. But, there’s one piece of advice that remains the same no matter who you ask: you should seize this opportunity of a lifetime with both hands, and soak up all the exciting cultural experiences possible! One of the most effective ways to do this is to absorb all the information you can about your host country before you get on the plane.
Great! So, where should you start? As it happens, finding information about a country’s culture can be a little chaotic. You’ll come across a lot of generic advice online, in articles and blog posts, a lot of which is outdated and of questionable validity. Trying to piece it all together is a full time job in itself (trust us)!
This is why CulturaGo was born. We created the first comprehensive, country-specific online courses on culture that are designed to help you get the most out of your studying abroad experience. The course content is researched, collated, and audited by cultural experts, including professors from top universities, and includes valuable insight from locals, natives, former students, graduates, and expats.
Get ready in advance
Arriving in your host country for the first time can be daunting. Learning with CulturaGo helps you feel like you have a connection with your destination from the moment you get there.
Equipped with a broad understanding of how things work, you’ll feel less like an outsider from the get-go. Plus, when unexpected things happen (as they inevitably will) you will feel more prepared to deal with them.
Get the important stuff figured out ahead of time and you’re in with a real advantage. When your fellow students falter, you can lead the way!
Show culture shock who’s boss
Studying abroad is a challenge in independence and self-reliance. If it’s your first time outside of your home country, don’t worry. It’s the same for many students who take a trip, semester, or year overseas.
Understandably, then, culture shock can hit hard. You’ll be dropped into a new world where everything is alien: the food, clothing, language, currency, traditions, and even the core values that influence how people behave. Your education will be different, too—not all schools follow the same structure or methods of education.
At first, your new environment will be exciting. But, gradually, feelings of anxiety can creep in and the differences to home can seem overwhelming. You may start to be frustrated by the local customs which don’t seem to make sense to you, like eating dinner at 11pm (Spain), wearing communal slippers in someone’s house (Japan), or throwing your used toilet paper in a trash can (Korea).
These are all things that take time to get used to but having an underlying idea of what to expect, and how to recognize your culture shock, plays a big part in how you cope with it.
The intel you gain from a CulturaGo course will help you to combat symptoms like homesickness, depression, and isolation. Don’t let culture shock jeopardize the whole reason you are there in the first place: to study, and experience life in a new, exciting environment. Arm yourself with the right knowledge and you will be able to navigate through all sorts of situations and bring back some incredible stories of your time abroad.
Don’t only hang out with your home country crew
Looking back on their time studying overseas, many students list “not making friends with the locals” as a regret. It’s easy to fall into a habit of only socializing with other exchange students since you’re all in the same proverbial boat.
Learning with CulturaGo and building an understanding of the local culture will give you the presence of mind to step outside of your bubble and interact with the natives. This will open up so many more amazing experiences as you see your host country from a local’s perspective. This is how you make unforgettable memories and create life-long connections with the people you meet.
Be confident in your identity (and understand others)
Getting to grips with a foreign country and the societal norms that seem, well, not so normal, can be tough at the best of times. This is only made more complex if you add into the mix subjects like race, gender, and sexuality.
It’s wise to learn about the stance that your host country takes on certain issues. The more prepared you are with how to handle things, and the less nasty shocks, the better. Some practices that are accepted in your home country may be frowned upon in your host country; and vice versa.
CulturaGo’s new Identity-Based Modules acknowledge the challenges faced by students with diverse identities. The coursework addresses the importance of having the right tools to embrace your unique self, safely explore, and find your place in a new culture—both on and off-campus.
It’s not just your own identity to understand in the local context, but others’, too. Have you considered the challenges (related to race, gender, and sexuality) that your fellow exchange students, other travelers, expats, or even some of the locals are facing? CulturaGo lays it all out, with real-life stories and interviews to help develop your perspective, build empathy, and feel confident to create friends outside your usual circle.
Don’t waste a single second
Your college (or should I say university) years are full of potential for adventure, world-class education, and personal growth. Whilst studying abroad serves all of these things up on a platter, most students don’t get the full benefit of the experience—simply because they are unprepared.
Don’t make that mistake! Instead, be prepared. When you arrive, be ready to embrace and immerse yourself in the new culture, and soak up every single moment of your potentially limited time abroad.
If you think about it, studying abroad may very well be the longest period of time you spend in a foreign country, especially if you have a plan to pursue a career when you get back home! Which is exactly why you need to make the most of it.
Taking the necessary steps to adjust to your new culture faster is easy with CulturaGo. Designed specifically for students just like you, a CulturaGo course will equip you with everything you need to press fast-forward on culture shock, connect with people on a deeper level, and make meaningful memories that will stay with you long after you graduate.