Studying abroad during your high school cultural exchange is the first and one of the best opportunity most high school students have to travel the world on their own. However, having said that; when visiting Europe for the first time, it’s highly likely that you’ll commit a faux pas anywhere you’re studying. With a lot of excitement, it’s easy to make some mistakes during your high school study abroad program. That is where this guide comes in!
Some common mistakes students enrolled in study abroad program make in Europe are totally avoidable, just with a little more awareness! So, lets jump into it; here are some don’ts for studying abroad in Europe!
Not adapting to Local Customs
In many European countries, it is considered kind of rude to begin speaking without greeting hello. So, the first step towards a good start to your study abroad program is by being a good listener and observer of your surroundings.
Watch keenly on the ways, how cultural differences emerge. Listen carefully to sense what makes people feel comfortable or uncomfortable. It is a good initiative to ask a local friend who is familiar with the language, culture and customs help you understand how cultural differences during your high school cultural exchange program.
A lot of these relational manners and customs can be found for the country you will be living in through a simple search so it’s a good option to google in advance.
Not Learning the Local Language
Foreign language skills have very high demand in today’s job market and even more so it can add to a student’s multi-dimensional personality. Learning the local language during your high school cultural exchange program would mean that you are learning it firsthand from the locals. There is no accent involved.
English is a universal language and students do generally fall into a trap where English is preferred over the local language. Since you won’t stop saying hello to your fellow neighbor and ordering your coffee; why not speak that in the local language with a smile!
Now, how do you learn the language quickly! Brushing up on useful phrases before you pursue your abroad journey could be a great head start. It is only interacting with locals that a student can look to truly master a language. Even if at times, you don’t feel like it, but you should force yourself to speak the local language with everyone you meet. Always remember, learning a language takes time. You will fumble often as you should, but it is worth it at the end and more importantly the locals would also appreciate your effort.
Sticking to friends from your native country
It is easy and equally tempting to make friends who belong from the same country, culture, or background as you. However, it certainly won’t give you the exposure you can benefit from. When you get to know and start hanging out with many students from different backgrounds and from all sorts of countries and cultures; it adds as a bonus benefit you get from being abroad.
Even if you are very extrovert and have a long list of friends try to stick with pals who can help you absorb the local culture better. There are a range of activities that you can perform during your study abroad program. It could boil down from performing group activities, attending school events to studying together and similar such things.
To put it all together, local friends are your best bet to truly understanding your surroundings, so you should try to get to know them every chance you get.
Not Exploring Enough
Studying abroad does not necessarily means that you need to stay in one city. During the weekends and school holidays, as a high school student you will always find opportunities to visit several new places away from your home base.
Eventually you need to strike the current balance between your studies and travel. Finding the right balance broadly would cover finding the most practical and enjoyable way towards exploration. As mentioned above, you must immerse yourself in different cultural aspects but an extension to it is possible when you visit tourist locations nearby during your free time.
Eventually, when you reach home your study abroad trip should be one where there are no regrets of covering and exploring European destinations in the best manner possible.
Failing to achieve a good balance between classroom education and cultural immersion
During your high school study abroad program, classroom learning is as equally important as is the opportunity to experience the city you live in. During your study abroad program in Europe, one should not let the classroom homework get overwhelming at the cost of experiencing the city. Very simple things during your stay can add to rapid strides in understanding cultural dynamics. Just walk around the city and develop a knack to interact with the locals. This in turn could be one of the best learning experiences there is.
Also, it is important for a student to be in a conscious and state of open mindedness. This state can help you to stay flexible for unplanned travels, as often there would be times when things won’t go as they were initially planned. During your study abroad program, it is essential to put in efforts to adapt to the local culture and learn from experiences that come your way! Nevertheless, also put in your best foot forward towards what is taught in the classroom. The key here is to prioritize both form of learning equally and strike a balance.
Take the Next Steps
So, you get the point. You now know what the pitfalls are you should not lay your foot in. Now it’s time to look for the best study abroad program that covers European countries of your interest.