- Take Pictures… A lot of them.
While you’re abroad everywhere you turn you are going to be seeing amazing new architecture or mountains or just something new to you and an incredible sight. It’s very easy to get so caught up in these moments and want to take it all in, avoiding using any distracting technology. Although we totally encourage this we also encourage you to pull out your camera or phone and snap some pictures of everything around you! After returning from being abroad, these pictures will be very valuable to you and no matter how many you took you will wish you took more.
- Interact with locals.
It may be intimidating and a little uncomfortable interacting with foreign people and especially when it is in a language other than your native language but these interactions can make or break your experience. When students come back from being abroad one of the main topics they talk about is being fully immersed in the new culture and this is a major aspect of cultural immersion. Even if this is just simply asking for directions or saying hi in passing these interactions can help you learn so much about the culture and language as well as possibly lead to a new experience.
- Explore the City.
Whenever you have some free time go out and explore the city. Traveling through a foreign city will produce many new sights and experiences for you. Just watching how the people act and go throughout their day can be so foreign to us students abroad and can teach us more about the culture. If you have fully explored the city you are in and are looking for something new don’t be nervous about looking into travel costs for cities or even other countries nearby.
- Get Lost.
Now I know this sounds a little funny at first and like a bad idea but let me explain. Typically when students come back and are telling stories the best stories and experiences come from being lost abroad. These students aren’t getting lost intentionally (for the most part at least), but with being in a foreign country it tends to happen occasionally. So if you end up getting a little lost abroad don’t panic, take a deep breath, use your resources and think about the amazing story you will have once you get back!
- Try new foods and cultural traditions.
Every country does certain things their own way or maybe a little different than another but the beautiful part of this is that this is what makes the culture of every country unique. As expressed earlier, cultural immersion is such a major part of students experience abroad so I encourage you to get involved in any cultural activity, group, holiday celebration, etc. Food also makes up a countries culture and many students skimp out on this part of the experience because they are picky eaters. Try new foods while you can because some may be a specialty in that country or they might be very hard to find in the United States. So get out there and try some new things!
Photo courtesy of Brandon Burzynski.
Brandon Burzynski is a senior at the University of Kentucky studying finance. Brandon participated in the UK Sponsored Culture and Communication in Peru program in summer 2015.