If there is one thing you could tell someone who was about to embark on a global exchange adventure what would that be? Personally, from the little experience that I have with and from the other students I have met that have studied abroad in the past, my one piece of advice would be to respect cultural diversity!
It is a must!
Every individual is entitled to their own personal cultural diversity, ESPECIALLY when you are the one participating in a global exchange program. My first piece of advice is to study up on the country in which you are planning to visit. This may sound like basic knowledge, but you would be uncomfortably surprised at the number of individuals who travel abroad armed with nothing more than a passport, some cash, and a weeks worth of clean clothes. It’s not that hard nowadays to study up on a country especially with the Internet at the hands, or at least accessible, to most individuals. Plus, a global exchange is an exchange of knowledge. For your time spent in the country you are able to represent America in all of Her glory and exchange your cultural knowledge with an individual/individuals from the country you visit. It is imperative that you visit these countries with an open mind as in some cases, depending on which country you visit, their views will be completely, 100% different
that yours. Moreover, ignorance is not necessarily a free pass neither.
Just a suggestion…
I would suggest staying away from political or religious talks as well, unless you are genially curious. But certainly do not point out the difference between your religious views and theirs, and then begin to try to convert them right there on the spot. That would be as they say, NOT GOOD. I can remember on my global education exchange that I was fortunate to be able to attend during my junior year at college, when I showed a bit of cultural ignorance in Belfast, Ireland. You see, I like to wear hats, especially New Era hats just because they fit my head good, but that’s beside the
point. Well me and two of my really good friends who play baseball and also where these New Era brand hats were going into one of the many Irish pubs to gain to cultural experience! Fortunately I was not wearing my New Era Atlanta Braves that night, but my two friends were sure enough wearing theirs (I had a beanie on because it was about 20F if I remember correctly). As soon as we step into the bar, my two buddies are met by the bouncers and have their hats immediately removed by them. I was getting nervous because I had no idea what was going on at this point in time. It turns out that the only people who wear those types of hats in that area were part of a gang! Talk about confused! We had no idea what was going on. But as soon as they found out we were just “Americans” everything went back to normal. The lesson had been learned though. It doesn’t pay to be ignorant!
Well there’s one of my memorable moments when ignorance reared its ugly head at me. Is there anyone else that is brave enough to tell us of an incident in which you might not have been caught up on all of the cultural difference of the place you were visiting? We would love to hear them! You never know, you may even help someone out who will be visiting that same place. Don’t be shy!!
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