Changes in Myself

After spending months in an foreign country and being exposed to the local traditions, attitudes, languages, and fashion trends, you will surely notice changes in the way you approach certain issues or react to thoughts and actions of others. Here are some examples of what others have experienced upon their return.

Surprisingly, I felt a bit estranged from American culture in general.  Living abroad, I watched most American news stories (especially the election primaries) with a wary eye.  I was fascinated by the world’s perception of America and a bit disgusted to see American tourists who acted like they were somehow superior to the rest of the world.  I’m also more likely to show interest in European news stories, since I can now associate with many of the cities. -Stephen, Florence

I found that I forgot normal courtesies such as letting others off the subway first before getting on, not jaywalking, etc. I also had to get used to paying tips and adding tax on to all my purchases as well. – Cheryl, Shanghai

Perhaps the biggest thing I have learned from traveling is to always understand who you are from the inside out, but to also remember what people perceive from the outside in. – Margaret, London

In Spain, I felt that there was such a sense of Patriotism and camaraderie that I don’t find in the States. While sitting in a restaurant one table would start singing happy birthday to their friend and the ENTIRE restaurant would join in. I was also in Spain during the soccer championship games which Spain won. Every time there was a game you would see a slew of people with their faces painted and carrying Spanish flags singing Olé. You could also hear the shouts and screams of excitements coming from people watching the game at home. I wish we were a little more laid back and had a strong sense of unity like the people in Spain. – Jasmine, Shanghai & Madrid

I found myself more open minded to different experiences and people. Before I left for Shanghai, I felt somewhat distant from the NYU community, Since I’ve come back I find myself appreciating America and being grateful for what I have. I’ve learned and felt first hand experience that the world does not revolve around America. I feel that there are plenty of opportunities outside of America, it just takes some effort to find it. I feel that I’ve evolved into a much more knowledgeable person, not only academically, but also socially.-Jennifer, Shanghai

For me, it was an interesting experience because I’m Chinese, but have grown up in New York City where most of the Chinese population is Cantonese (and more recently, Fujianese). Living and traveling in China showed me how diverse the country really is. – Patty, Shanghai

Once you’re submerged into a culture (if you allow yourself to let go enough), you will undoubtedly adopt some of the cultural norms, sometimes subconsciously.  In Ghana, I found myself becoming closer to my friends and family (because of the strong familial foundation in Ghanaian culture). My peers and I also adopted new gestures (talking with our hands, emphasizing words etc…) and saying particular Ghanaian sayings about a month after we’d been in country. – Suhaly, Prague & Ghana

Living in the U.S. you assume that everyone should be open and welcoming, but some countries haven’t had the influx of immigration that the U.S. has had. You also learn so much about other cultures and traditions that you became more aware of the ways in which you may stereotype other people. – Olivia, London

I think, as Americans, we automatically bring numerous assumptions with us when entering a new environment, region, country, and even to a continent.  What is so pressing about the concept of diversity is the need to recognize those assumptions and see what challenges those ideas within the site where one studies. I never expected to learn as much as I did from my experience abroad, and I think being willing to have my assumptions challenged and explore the Czech Republic was one of the largest factors involved. – Jeremy, Prague

Meeting people of all nationalities and backgrounds while in Paris, studying at AUP & traveling, made me realize just exactly how “self-centered” (for lack of better word) the US is. I generally felt that the people I met abroad had a better understanding of world affairs, partially because of their own interest in these matters but also because they are more exposed to it, especially in Europe because of the EU. Travelling also showed me the extend of American corporate imperialism (particularly in Prague). I also really envy the European way of life, which really values relaxation. They make sure to take the time to enjoy themselves, have leisurely meals, enjoy the company of their friends, etc. – Angela, Paris

Without a doubt, the time I spent in China is one of my major selling points right now in my interviews. It has completely diversified me from my peers and has provided me with so many learning and growing experiences that any task seems absolutely doable. –Melissa, Shanghai

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