When it was time for me to select a college to attend, I was completely torn between a private college and a public university in my home state of Florida.
Scholarships, college majors, sports teams and dorm options all factored into my decision to attend the public one: the University of Florida. The deciding factor, however, was that I would be able to study abroad.
It turns out that studying abroad in Italy and then backpacking throughout Europe was one of the best experiences of my life. I remember reading about Italy’s customs and culture before I left, but nothing compared to actually taking in the sights, eating at the restaurants and engaging in conversation with the local residents. It really set the foundation for my future travels to Spain, China, Japan and Israel.
Rialto Bridge, Venice, Italy.
Students are being encouraged more than ever to study abroad because it will help them integrate into our increasingly global workforce. If students are smart when they go abroad, they also can use the opportunity to network, obtain internships or even secure an international job upon graduation.
Therefore, when students go abroad it is important for them to follow the etiquette tips below so they can be confident in an international setting:
1. Understand what is going on in the world.
You don’t need to be an expert on every country, but you should have a general grasp of current events. It is easy to offend someone if you bring up a sensitive topic like war, politics, laws or religion.
2. Learn a few phrases.
The local residents don’t expect you to be fluent in another language, but they will appreciate your effort to learn some common phrases. It will also alleviate some frustration when you want to get to a location or order off a menu, which are times when you want to enjoy your surroundings.
3. Remember that humor doesn’t always translate well.
When you are communicating abroad, at least one person is often speaking in their second language. Jokes can be lost, and it is an easy way to create a misunderstanding. It is better to stick with simple and direct language.
4. Avoid making negative remarks or comparison statements.
It comes across as very arrogant if you believe your way of life is the best and only way. Instead, ask open-ended questions to learn more and broaden your horizons. It will help strengthen your connection with other people, and may even lead to a new friend who lives abroad.
5. Hold yourself to high standards.
Unfortunately, American college students often have a negative reputation for being loud and obnoxious (and occasionally intoxicated) in public settings. Even if these behaviors aren’t appropriate in the United States, it’s not wise to engage in them abroad either. Plus, you want to create a positive first impression in order to receive future opportunities.
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