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Respectful intercultural communication: the key to enjoy a semester abroad

Going abroad requires a personal responsibility that goes beyond taking care of the application process or being on time at the airport. Here is the first thing that you have to keep in mind: you are a guest in the new country and as a guest, you should behave with respect towards your hosts. What does it mean in the intercultural communication process? Why is it important? Successful communication is crucial for you to enjoy your semester abroad and this can only be achieved if you manage to go along with respect towards cultural differences that you will encounter. Here are some tips that you should keep in mind and it will improve your communication skills with members of different cultures:

Don’t go abroad thinking that your destination will be similar to your own country: If it is true, there are many countries that because of historical reasons share more similarities than others. This does not mean that it will be the same as yours and if you expect to find the same things, why going abroad?

Don’t compare: Applying this motto is more difficult than you think. It is human nature to compare, what you should avoid is demeaning the compared aspects in the process.

No country is perfect: the magic of visiting new places is to be amazed by things you’ve never seen before, but you will encounter for sure things that you dislike. If you start focusing on these aspects, then you will find only the ugly aspects of the new destination and you will miss the best parts.

Don’t generalize: in every part of the world, you will find various personalities. If you are close to the stereotypical idea of how people of a certain country are, you will deny yourself seeing the differences among individuals.

You are the guest: immerse yourself in the other cultures and don’t expect special treatment if you are not willing to give respect in return

Don’t judge: every country has a different story and ways to be, stop judging and try to understand historically and contextually the reason behind some attitudes or cultural aspects.

Be grateful: everywhere in the world, you will find people eager to show you their traditions. Sharing is not an obligation, is a gift, so say thank you.

Choose your words carefully when talking about your host country. Nobody says that you cannot express your opinion, on the contrary, we encourage you to do so, but with empathy and respect. The seven tips will help you to avoid awkward situations while communicating with other cultures. Going on a plane and living for a few months abroad will not broaden your horizons. Moreover, It is a process of adaption and you have to work for it. Begin with your attitude towards the others so you don’t get only to see nice landscapes, but also make friends for life.

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