I am blessed to have the opportunity to study in a different culture, surrounded by a different language. Throughout the years when I study abroad, I have been asked many times about my opinions on global learning and my suggestions on learning a different language. I have shared these with my class (Current Issues in Undergraduate Life) in my Medium blog, and I decided to share them here with you guys as well.
Global learning is not about just being in a different country to receive a degree from an educational institution. Global learning is about emerging in a different culture, seeing things from a different angle, and challenging your mindset from a different perspective. That’s why a cultural competent learner shall have an open mindset in a daily learning process and be respectful.
I believe that the best way to learn a language is to be embraced in the culture. Through my four year English learning experience, I found something interesting. You don’t improve from just talking to native speakers. You improve the most after you embrace the culture. But don’t get me wrong here. Learning language still requires massive amount of vocabulary and grammar memorization, and I am not asking you to forget where you come from in order to put on a new identity in the new environment. Embracing a culture means observing, respecting, and accepting the difference, and absorbing what is good for self-improvement. Language is the heart of a culture. In order to learn how to speak the language, we shall learn how to respect and love the culture first, because respect and love create passion. With passion, nothing would seem difficult any more.
Lastly, I would like to share some small tips we may use to be engaged in a new culture:
- Be curious. The cool thing about studying abroad is that you will meet people from very different backgrounds. Be curious about their stories, ask them questions. As a result, you obviously will make new friends, and they will help you see things from different perspectives. It’s so fascinating!
- Be open-minded. People around you may do things in a different way, which maybe even considered rude or strange in your own culture. Before you make any face, an open mindset will put a break on your negative judgments.
- Be active. There is no difference between an empty four wall room in France from an empty four wall room in America. While you are studying abroad, you shall take full advantage of the different land. Actively attending various social events, or even just walking on streets will give you a new picture that you can put in the album of your life.
We are blessed to live in a global village where the world is within reachable distance. As being said by many, a world is a book, and we shall not only stay on one page.