Tips for international students on how to navigate new cultural etiquette: Studying abroad is usually filled with a lifetime of adventures and experiences. The mere thought of meeting new people, learning new cultures and languages, and forging new friendships is exhilarating. With all that excitement of studying internationally comes the duty to be well-versed in the cultural etiquette of your new environment.
What do I mean? You have to first understand and blend with the culture of your new community before you can enjoy a wholesome experience.
Now, this will require you to know the basic dos and don’ts of the said culture and abide by them.
Here’s where I come in…
In this article, I will, per usual, offer basic points to master cultural do’s and don’ts as an international student. Trust that these tips are fundamental to cultural respect and relationships across the globe.
The Do’s For International Students
In this category, I’ll walk you through some things you can do, should do, or must do, and when
dealing with people from a different culture;
International students should Research
This is practically a no-brainer. Your cultural expedition commences before you step foot off the plane, ship, or however you got into the country.
Once you’re sure you’ll be studying abroad, begin your research. Your research should cover the environment, culture, and community surrounding you. I think there’s a quote like:
“If you’re in Rome, act like a Roman” or something.
Study the country’s history, customs, and traditions. This is the first and foremost step to understanding the cultural context of your new community as an international student.
International Students Should Be Respectful
Respect is the core of any successful cross-cultural relationship. Always show courtesy and respect for the local customs, beliefs, and practices, regardless of how much they differ from yours.
Hell, you don’t like their food combinations, their language sounds hilarious, or you’re shocked to see men wearing skirts. Okay! Keep your reservations to yourself and determine within yourself how to respectfully deal.
If anything, with proper prior research, you should have figured all of these out beforehand.
International Students should always be Open-Minded
Cultural diversity forms a foundational aspect of many international student’s experiences. To get the best experience, ensure you stay open-minded about new ideas, opinions, and perspectives. It’s also a perfect way to easily manage your culture shock.
International Students Should Be Patient
It may take some time to fully adapt to your new culture. Here’s where you have to be patient with the process. You may err once in a while, but you’ll get used to it eventually. You might eventually be stuck with that foreign meal you originally didn’t like.
International Students Should Always Ask Questions
Well, your home research provides some useful knowledge but won’t tell you all you need to know. This is where you ask questions to improve your understanding. Many natives appreciate genuine interest in their culture and are usually willing to help.
International students should ask for help when it is necessary.
If you’re caught in a situation where you’re uncertain about some cultural acts, please ask for help. You can ask your friends, new native friends, or random locals for assistance. Asking proper questions is a great way to show commitment to cultural learning.
The Don’ts For International Students
As an international student, here are some things I’d advise you not to try, at least while you’re still a newbie. Please don’t take it lightly.
Don’t Assume Your Culture is Superior
Everyone, especially international students in this instance, must be culturally humble. Understand that every culture has its perks and strengths. Don’t go about belittling their way of life. It never ends well.
Don’t Use Offensive Sarcasm
It’s easy to misunderstand humor and sarcasm in a cross-cultural interaction. Be careful with jokes and humorous statements that can be easily perceived as offensive. Really, just be clear and direct. They don’t need to think you’re funny just yet💀.
Don’t Compare or Offer Unsolicited Advice About the Culture
As an international student, please resist the urge to compare cultures, whether yours or a third-party culture. You’re still new to the setting and may not know how to approach such a discussion. Just avoid any such conversations that may appear condescending or degrading.
Don’t Make Assumptions About Others Based on Their Cultural Background
Cultural stereotypes are limiting and unfair. Because she’s Italian, that doesn’t mean pasta is her favorite dish. Treat each person as an individual with their own unique lives and perspectives.
Fostering Cross-Cultural Understanding
In any international study setting, cultural etiquette forms a strong adhesive that binds understanding and respect. As you study abroad, remember to embrace cultural diversity, learn local customs, and respect others’ traditions. With this, you can forge meaningful connections and make the most of your experience.
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