Daily Life Tips

Breaking the Ice: How to Make the Most of Your Time

by on 2016-08-04 15:26:21

Planning for your study abroad trip often means that you have a lot on your plate. Although, once you decide the university abroad, it sets the trip in stone and makes it a reality. As the day of departure approaches, nerves can begin to set in. It’s a big step to go and live abroad, but it can be extremely rewarding and also an incredible asset to anyone trying to improve their language skills specifically.

To make the most of your study abroad program, here are some tips on how to break the ice when you first meet, to settle in, and to overcome the language and social barriers you may feel as you begin your study aborad.

Extend the Olive Branch Before You Go

There’s always a certain element of anxiety when you’re speaking a foreign language with native speakers, but the best way to feel at ease is to know the people you’re speaking to. While studying in a unfamiliar environment, why not kick off the process before you arrive? You can easily get the information about the university, surrounding scenery, even the students there on the internet. You can make friends with Chinese in the Facebook, twitter, some forums and so on. Once you communicate with them, you can state your questions in the advance, so that you would not feel embarrassed when you deal with the matters in China. Upon arrival, a simple gift or token from your home country can also go a long way in conveying what your linguistic skills cannot. Bring a token or gesture, such as a traditional cake for when you arrive, and you’ll be sure to have something to break the ice and talk about.

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Be Part of the Surroundings

When you study abroad for the first time (particularly if you are part of a class or school group), it’s easy to stick together. Being in a new place and trying to speak a foreign language can be quite an intense experience; just keeping track of conversations in another language can leave you worn out, and that’s before you start to participate in them! There is only one way to get over this, and that’s by putting yourself out there!

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Do What You Really Want to Do 

There’s more than just knowledge to learn as overseas students. Asking questions is the best way to get insight into the daily life of a country and its culture. There are a lot of expressions and things that go on that are completely commonplace to a local that may seem strange to you as a newcomer. Don’t be afraid to ask about them about these things; this is your opportunity to learn without it becoming a chore. Play against your own interests and hobbies and see how they correspond to life. Are there new sports or activities you can try, or a local dish you can learn how to cook? Pieces of information and lessons like these are invaluable to your study abroad experience, and are something more tangible for you to take home with you.

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Speak Up

The last point may seem obvious, but for most of us, speaking up and saying we don’t understand something is a lot easier said than done. This is doubly true when you are learning a foreign language. To improve, however, you need to speak up and ask someone to repeat themselves or say that you don’t understand. In many contexts, this can be an icebreaker, but this is a chance to learn in a relaxed casual environment.

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Studying in China is a wonderful experience for any study abroad student, but it can take some getting used to. The best thing to do when planning your study abroad program is to think about what you want to get out of your choice. Push your comfort zone a little bit and a lot will come back to you, and the people you met will go from strangers, to educators, to friends.


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