Cultural exchange is a way for students and professionals to gain international experience that will help them stand out in the job market. These programs also provide development opportunities and make a positive impact on the local community.
Adapting to a new culture takes time. The longer you stay, the more of a local you will become.
Learn a new language
Immersing yourself in a foreign language is a great way to learn. But understanding the culture is just as important. This is especially true for those learning to speak a new language, as words and phrases are meaningless without context. Getting to know the people, customs, and traditions of their country can help you become fluent much more quickly.
Having a cultural exchange is an excellent way to make friends and practice your language skills. It also helps you to understand other people’s perspectives and beliefs. This type of learning can be extremely beneficial, and it’s often a prerequisite for jobs that require intercultural communication skills.
It’s important to give your student the time they need to adapt to your culture. Don’t rush them to make friends with students from their home country. It’s important to be open to different opinions and experiences so they can learn that we are not all that different after all.
Live like a local
Cultural exchange is an incredible way to immerse yourself into a new culture. Not only will you learn the language and get a feel for daily life in the country, but you’ll also learn about yourself. By interacting with people from different backgrounds, you’ll be forced to think about your own beliefs and values in a new light.
The longer you stay, the more of a local you’ll become. You’ll be able to pick your favorite coffee shop and restaurant, learn the ins and outs of public transit and find all those little nooks that make the neighborhood your own.
Meridian provides cultural exchange opportunities for all types of professionals and students. Our programs range from short-visit programs to long-term postgraduate studies. For example, we recently sent mural artists to nine countries around the world to create meaningful engagement with communities. This was accomplished by hosting workshops and substantive dialogue that resulted in over 30 public artworks.
Get a taste of life abroad
Culture is a huge part of one’s identity and to be able to experience another culture through cultural exchange can be an eye-opening experience. It can range from learning a new type of instrument to learning about the religion and politics of a country.
Immersing yourself in a different culture will allow you to truly discover who you are as an individual. You’ll learn to embrace differences and respect other people’s beliefs even when they may be different from your own.
Leaving the comfort of your home to step into a completely foreign environment shows a level of commitment and engagement with the world that you will not find in textbooks, school assignments or a professional career. Many former AYA participants have gone on to become lifelong friends with their hosts and visit each other’s countries long after their exchange programs have ended. This is the ultimate sign of a valuable cultural exchange. Whether you decide on a semester or full school year exchange, both will give you time to really adjust to your new surroundings and find what makes the place you’re living in unique.
Make new friends
Developing relationships with people from different cultures is a great way to improve your social skills and gain experience. This experience is also beneficial to a person’s career because it shows employers that you are adaptable and open-minded. In addition to this, cultural exchange can inspire new forms of art, writing, music and other aspects of life.
Many international students who take part in a cultural exchange program make friends with people from their host country that last a lifetime. Those friendships can even lead to professional opportunities and international business connections that you wouldn’t have had otherwise. Some hosts even “swap” visits with their former students – this is another opportunity to learn about new cultures in the ways that books, school assignments and your own travels cannot. This is a truly unique and unforgettable experience that will help you become more independent. This is something you will never forget and it will change your perspective on the world around you.