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NYAspie
Deinonychus
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24 Sep 2006, 8:55 pm

One of the things that would probably be required of me if I ever get into grad school would be to study abroad.

Now, I am aware that this is a great opportunity to learn about other cultures by actually being part of one for the time that you're there (as well as the language and what-have-you-not.) I have listed below my main concerns about doing something of this magnitude:

    *Living according to the culture of my surroundings (i.e., a potential departure from my normal routine back home)
    *Being in another country (obviously) and a good distance away from all that you know


Has anybody felt the same way about this? Has anyone on the forum studied abroad in the past?


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lawpoop
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24 Sep 2006, 9:34 pm

I have lived abroad extensively, at least for an average American.

After high school, I was a yearl-long exchange student in Finland. Finland is well known for a sort of 'silent' culture, so they are more accepting of quiet, nerdy types, but it also makes it harder to find friends. Also, from all of the contacts I've had with Europeans, I would say it's more okay to have some kind of intellectual conversation. They don't have the culture of idiocy like we do here in America.

I also spent two summers in Ecuador when I was in college. That was much more difficult -- for one, I was much more wealthy than anyone I would meet, and Ecuadorian culture was much more family oriented. So unless you were involved with a family, you were unlikely to meet anyone or make friends. If someone came up to you being friendly and what not, they were likely a scam artist preying on rich foreigners.

Anyways, all in all, I find that people are more forgiving and less judgemental of a foreigner, when they make some simple social mistake, or don't send the proper social signals. Of course, non-native speakers rarely get language tone correct, so you also get a pass there. What's really great is they often take the time to explain the way some social event is supposed to go down ;)

Sooner or later people will figure out you are nerdy, but you will probably have endeared yourself to them at that point ;)

Basically I find it easier to be myself around foreingers, either when I'm abroad, or when they are visiting.

As far as homesickness or loneliness, you have to have some way of 'returning' home for a little while. For me it was reading English periodicals, especially The Economist, which is seemingly available all over the globe, and also listening to my favorite music.



hyperbolic
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24 Sep 2006, 9:48 pm

Quote:
Anyways, all in all, I find that people are more forgiving and less judgemental of a foreigner, when they make some simple social mistake, or don't send the proper social signals. Of course, non-native speakers rarely get language tone correct, so you also get a pass there. What's really great is they often take the time to explain the way some social event is supposed to go down Wink


That answers a question I always wanted to ask, but didn't know if there was an answer readily available for. :P



pineapple
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24 Sep 2006, 11:18 pm

I studied abroad...I went to London and I'm American, so people were speaking my language...most of the time. :wink: "Culture shock" was never a problem for me, since I sort of feel like I'm in a constant state of culture shock, even in my own country. :roll: But it was fabulous. It was hard, and sometimes very isolating, but I learned a lot, and I'd do it again in a minute. My advice would just be to not come with too many preconcieved notions. A lot of people tried to give me "helpful advice", but it turned out to be mostly innacurate and just ended up scaring me for no reason. If you usually follow a routine (I do), it's jarring at first. But I think you'll find a new routine in your new place that works for you...and e-mail and IM can keep you pretty close to people at home...although I know it's not the same as seeing them.



Litigious
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25 Sep 2006, 2:31 am

I've studied in Germany, but I'm very good at their language. At 16 a got an award from the German state for my excellent knowledge of their language. 8)

English-speaking people have an advantage, since most people in Europe and Asia speak your language at least to some degree, so you don't have to speak a foreign language in most countries.


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