The push for cultural immersion has never been stronger with study abroad programs increasingly encouraging their students to dive into the culture of their host countries. In a recent article on Voice of America titled “Study Abroad Programs Take Deeper Dive Into Local Culture”, study abroad program providers are finding different ways to inspire their students to learn more of the local culture.
Some programs are even finding unique ways to challenge their students to interact with the local culture. William Finley, head of the sociology department at the University of Georgia, mentions in the article, “It’s absolutely crucial that they know something about how people in other parts of the world live and think and how they behave. Often those students go in large groups and they hang around with each other. We felt that they really weren’t getting to know the local inhabitants.”
In an effort to give students the opportunity to learn about the culture of their study abroad destination, some program providers, such as CET Academic Programs, are using housing as an opportunity to integrate their students with international students. Although this situation can prove to be challenging and not always easy, especially if there is a language barrier, it gives their students an incredible opportunity to personally connect with the culture and offers an invaluable learning experience. In the article Mark Lenhart, Executive Director at CET, comments about the experience: “Not just in terms of language learning, but they also find the local culture can present challenges, and perhaps misunderstandings. They have to adjust to local life. It’s no longer OK just to have a little Chinese, for instance. If a student is studying Chinese, they want to come home from a program like this fluent in Chinese. And so this will enable students to become more employable when they graduate.”Over two hundred fifty thousand students study abroad each year; this number only increasing year after year as students find it a valuable opportunity to explore other areas of the world.
Need some advice before heading overseas next semester? Take it from this article that the more you learn about the culture of your study abroad destination the more educated, cultured, and fortunate you will feel when you return. Click here for some fun ways to celebrate different cultures around the world. Happy travels!
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