Not surprisingly, we have all encountered the pleasant, not-so-pleasant and sometimes just plain odd aspects of the local cultures at our study abroad sites. However, eventually, most of us come to the realization that the customs and objects abroad are not “weird” but different from what we are accustomed to. Part of a rewarding study abroad experience is growing, learning and being able to accept, respect, and perhaps even celebrate the local specialties of other countries. In our first collection of anecdotes, we invite you to get a taste of what we think study and respect abroad is all about.
To me it means being open to different behaviors, going into new situations with an open mind, and showing civility towards others. It means getting used to limited business hours, buying espressos instead of big coffee, eating croissants instead of cereal and milk, driving manual transmission cars instead of automatic, and looking out for scooters while crossing the street.
When you go abroad, you really have to be open to experience new ideas. Respect abroad means being open to beliefs and ideas that you may not personally agree with at first, and being able to learn from the new people and experiences that you will have.
It means appreciating the fact that you are not on vacation and realizing that you made a decision to create a new life in a new country with new people for an entire semester. It’s about opening yourself up and being willing to try new things, even if you wouldn’t normally do those things back at home.
– Courtney, Florence & Paris