Student Handbook - Tips for Cultural Immersion
Many study abroad participants see the sites and take photos but leave without a deeper knowledge of their host culture. On an ISEP program, you have the chance to create a different kind of experience. Here are a few suggestions to enhance the cultural element of your ISEP immersion:
- Research the history and current events of your host country and city to better understand your new cultural environment.
- Interact with diverse groups of local people, both young and old, to get a varied perspective on the culture.
- Be prepared to engage with locals on a number of conversation topics, but be aware that certain topics may not be considered appropriate.
- Develop positive, respectful relationships, being mindful of cultural differences and taboos. Remember that you are representing your nation, your university, and ISEP.
- Practice your language skills without being afraid of making mistakes: they can be a great way to learn.
- Take part in university or community groups such as language clubs, sports clubs, book clubs, churches, or cooking classes. Cooking is a great way to share in local traditions. (Consider bringing a recipe from home to share as well.)
- Attend cultural events that are not typically for tourists. Ask your local friends what events are of interest and importance to them.
- Avoid negative comparisons between your host and home countries. Food, religion, thought patterns, and social habits may seem strange, but keep an open mind and allow yourself time to understand them.
- Consider keeping a journal so you can spend time reflecting on your daily encounters. This will help you deepen your understanding of your experiences and host culture.
- Above all, remember that this is the experience of a lifetime! Have fun and enjoy your opportunity to be a participant and not a tourist.