Tag Archives: Living Abroad

50 Great Study Abroad & Living Abroad Tweeps

Since there are a lot of awesome Study Abroad Folks on Twitter, sharing great information on Study Abroad, Study Abroad Programs and International Education and more, I decided to share my personal Top 50 Study Abroad Tweeps here with you. If you are not on this list and tweet about Study Abroad, please feel free to add your Twitter account in the comment section!

1. jkinneyscott James K. Scott, PhD
Director of the International Center – University of Missouri (USA)
2.GlobalChronicle GlobalChronicle
The Global Edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education

3. GoOverseas GO! Overseas

GoOverseas.com is the leading resource for meaningful travel abroad. Discover your next adventure teaching, studying, or volunteering abroad!

4. GlobalCampus GlobalCampus is a global online community & personal marketing tool for students worldwide. Giving students direct & free access to univ. staff & ed opportunities globally!

5. karinfischer Karin Fischer
I write about the internationalization of American higher education, global competitiveness, and colleges and the economy.

6. srah srah

I like tea and sleeping, but not at the same time.

7. goinglobal Going Global

Expert advice for finding jobs at home and abroad.

8. thenewdorothy Brooke Roberts

A sassy gal from small town Kansas who chased her dreams over the rainbow, around the world, and back again.

9. diwyy DoItWhileYou’reYoung

20somethings who’ve been to all 7 continents & 60+ countries. Leading site for work, study & volunteering abroad. @jerrigirl @KristinaWeg @ewegsche tweeting

10. APIstudyabroad APIstudyabroad

Academic Programs International (API) offers study abroad programs in 13 countries across Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.

11. pdxnicolle Nicolle Merrill

Wanderlust enabler and international communicator: immersed in global ed, study abroad & digital ethnography

12. planetecole Sabrina Faber

International education, training and development professional, enjoys learning, languages, travel, culture, the outdoors

13. studyabroadjobs Study Abroad Jobs

The ultimate global source for study abroad & intl ed jobs

14. AbroadView Abroad View

Online and print magazine for students and post-grads looking to study or travel abroad!

15. InStudyAbroad Inside Study Abroad

A study abroad enthusiast sharing the inside scoop on all things study abroad.

16. DavidComp David Comp

Publish IHEC Blog. Research focus on int’l ed. & mutual understanding; methodology and data collection on student mobility

17. PassAdvisors Pass Advisors

Education company bridging the divide between the Chinese students who want to study abroad and the schools who want them. by @perrywhitecage

18. GoAbroad GoAbroad

Our worldwide staff brings you THE Resource for Meaningful Travel with additional social media/networking tools at http://GoAbroad.net.

19. CEAstudyabroad CEA Study Abroad

Study Abroad programs for US and Canadian Students

20. CEAstudyabroad CEA Study Abroad

Study Abroad programs for US and Canadian Students

21. ISOgermany ISOgermany

ISOgermany: Beratung zum Auslandsstudium in Australien, Kanada, UK und USA kostenlos.

22. rausvonzuhaus eurodesk Deutschland

Eurodesk Deutschland informiert kostenlos, trägerübergreifend und neutral zu Auslandsaufenthalten und Europathemen

23. StudyAbroad101 ✈Abroad101✈

From insider reviews to interactive forums, we provide you with a crash course in study abroad. Welcome Abroad!

24. NAFSA NAFSA

The world’s largest professional association dedicated to international education.

25. PennySchouten PennySchouten

Working @ British Consulate, Study Abroad Marketing Diva, Region X Com Manager, Tech SIG Co-Chair, Vampire obsessed

26. aljamiat Wassan Humadi

International student marketing & HigherEd recruitment aimed at Middle East/North Africa & Eurasia… card carrying metalhead + wife

27.  SANEtraveler SANEtraveler

Steph at SANE Traveler. Helping students living abroad live, eat, and travel like a local.

28. OUEduAbroad OU Education AbroadThe Office of Education Abroad at Ohio University is dedicated to helping students study, intern, volunteer and work abroad. Stop in Lindley 185 for more info.

29. PSUaaAbroad PSU Altoona Abroad
Receive the latest news and updates on study abroad from the Penn State Altoona Office of Education Abroad http://www.altoona.psu.edu/studyabroad
30. ttmharrison Tiffany Harrison
A PR-trained college grad, wannabe time traveler, w/a passion for social media, intercultural comm & all things study abroad. Read & learn more @ my new blog http://www.wwjanedo.com

31. diversityntwk Diversity Network

Diversity Network is the leading professional network dedicated to diversity and equity in global education

32. jeramyutgw Jeramy Johnson

Father. Husband. Runner. Traveler. Study Abroad Champion.

33. StudyingAbroad StudyingAbroad

http://www.StudyAbroad.com helps everyone study abroad! We are the Internet’s leading source of information on the topic. Ask us a question.

34. thirdyearabroad Lizzie Fane

Web startup almost-entrepreneur, passionate modern linguist and study abroad advice-giver…

35. IIEglobal IIEglobal

IIE is among the world’s largest and most experienced international education organizations, committed to serving participants, sponsors and donors since 1919.

36. IDPDRIE IDP Database

Database of international education research from publishers in Australia and abroad: International students, study abroad, etc. Thanks for the Retweets!

37. ManitouHeights Ruth Marie Sylte

Consulting in strategic communications, PR, social media marketing and reputation management in diverse cross-cultural settings – from the Prairie to the World!
38. Frankie_James Frank J. Merendino
NAFSA Region VI State Rep-Ohio, Sr. Admissions Officer for International Partnerships at University of Cincinnati, global citizen, travel lover

39. Ahjim Weidong Zhang

ESL&International Student Advising,Counselor,Academic Advisor,International Program Coordinator.

40. jwstauff Jon

Director of Center for Global Engagement at The College of New Jersey – Education Abroad and Int’l Student Services

41. DAADnewyork DAAD North America

North American DAAD friends and alumni come here to connect, share stories and get important updates about study, internships and research in Germany.

42. AFSUSA AFSUSA

AFS-USA is a leader in intercultural learning and offers international exchange programs to more than 40 countries around the world.

43. ISAabroad ISA Abroad

ISA (International Studies Abroad) offers study abroad programs in 18 countries across Europe, Latin America, Asia, North Africa and the Middle East.

44. GoAbroad_Study Study Abroad

The study abroad twitter for @GoAbroad. Sign up for your free study abroad blog at http://GoAbroad.net!

45. DegreesOverseas DegreesOverseas

An application center for top-rated degree programs abroad.

46. AspireAbroad AspireAbroad

Aspire offers comprehensive high school and gap year travel and study abroad programs in Europe and Latin America.
47. CIEEAdvisorNews CIEE Study Abroad
Study abroad through CIEE.
They don’t follow anyone back though :(
Empowering families in global transition across all sectors…
49. EdUSAtips Marty Bennett
EducationUSA — 400+ centers-170 countries, 14 million students/year
50. uintheusa U in the USA
Helping international students and foreign exchange visitors get settled in, acclimate to American culture and live their dreams is our absolute engagement.

How to deal with Culture Shock

According to our favorite but not officially-recognized-as-a-reliable-source Wikipedia, culture shock refers to “the anxiety and feelings (of surprise, disorientation, uncertainty, confusion, etc.) felt when people have to operate within a different and unknown culture such as one may encounter in a foreign country.”
Indeed, some people may feel… let’s say uncomfortable after having spent some time in a foreign country. This syndrome actually really depends on the person in its intensity. Some of the people I know don’t feel it at all (also my case), but for some, it is apparently a concrete problem.
The main symptom is a boredom felt about anything (people, habits, architecture…), coupled to a will to “go back home” (sweet home…).
The main advice I could give about this disease is not to isolate yourself. Stay close to people you know, and try to get to know new people. Don’t stay passive: admit the problem, and face it! If you have moved to a foreign country, you should have good reasons, keep those in mind.
Even if you’re looking for total immersion, don’t forget to keep in touch with people who stayed in your home country, new technologies help you to do that efficiently.
Several way exist, to help you deal with Culture Shock:

  • E-mails, which are the most used way of long-distance communication.

  • Facebook, used by most of young people, is a good way to stay aware of what’s happening in your friends’ countries.

  • Msn, or windows live messenger, is efficient to have real-time written conversations.

  • Phone, even if expensive for international calls, is important. It is a good way to show to friends and family that you think about them, or to wish a happy birthday for example.

  • Skype is a useful software used by more and more people each day. It is a free way to have vocal conversations, as well as conversations through web cam. If you need to “speak” to someone who is far away from you, this might be the solution you need.

If good relationships are not enough for you in order not to regret leaving your home country, try to create, at least in your room, an atmosphere that reminds you your sweet home. Posters, presents from friends, pictures and so one help to create a friendly environment. Also check out these great tips if you really miss home a lot while being abroad and how to make the most of your stay abroad.

What can I gain by doing my Masters abroad?

To have experience abroad, in a company or as a student, is really important in companies which work on a worldwide scale. Managers are more and more required to have a cultural comprehension and a certain criticism concerning the national market. A Master degree is a valuable investment, in particular because of its acceptance everywhere in the world and of the diversity of the programs. To do a Master abroad is a good opportunity to get to know other cultures, improve your language skills and create an international network. This experience abroad can however can also mean high costs which should not be neglected. You have to determine if studies abroad are helpful for you and if it is the case, which study abroad program, will positively influence your career.


What can I gain by doing my Master abroad: Get into the country

Many candidates do not want to only study abroad, they wish also to work and live there. If one wishes to have an international career abroad, then the Master degree is a really good option. These studies propose a true relationship and an exchange with the other students, the readers and the tutors. Even in a Bachelor program it is the case. But the Master degree is a true springboard towards the working world. Caution: inform yourself about the visa regulations, work conditions and about the residence permit.

What can I gain by doing my Master abroad: Find a Job abroad

The laws of immigration validate your stay in the country. In Great Britain for example, there are certain directives which make it possible to the students to remain and work after their studies, but this also depends on your country of origin. The difficulty to find a job strongly depends on the reputation of the business school which accommodated the student. The candidates of very famous businesses schools will not have any problem to obtain a residence permit and to work in very good companies. The graduates of average schools will have more difficulties to obtain a visa and to find a job, except if they belonged to the best of their class.


What can I gain by doing my Master abroad: Competitive Advantage back home

A Master degree can be also an advantage if you decide to return to your home country and work for an international company. This experiment abroad makes it possible to the graduates to think on an international level and to understand the total interconnection between the markets. This knowledge can be also a great advantage for companies with only local scales.
As I said before, to do a Master abroad can represent high costs. So you have to determine if a Master program abroad is really useful in your case. The businesses-schools and the universities propose most of the time study abroad programs or training courses in schools or partners companies. You will have to ask youself certain questions such as: Which are the strong points in my career? Which precautions will I have to take? Does a Master degree from abroad represent an advantage or not? And if the responses to these questions are good enough to take the risk, take it because in most cases, it is a real advantage to get a Master degree from abroad!


Advantages of Studying Abroad

If you read through this article and got a bit overwhelmed with the dicision whether you should take the plunge and study abroad or not, check out this book: The Global Student is the perfect book to show you that that living abroad is a great way to spark your career and see how many advantages living and studying abroad really has.

What is Culture?

According to Gary Wederspahn, culture is the shared set of assumptions, values, and beliefs of a group of people by which they organize their common life. In our world we can distinguish lot of cultures because of the number of countries for example, but also we can see some scales in these ‘country cultures’.

When you travel all over the world ,you have to face these different cultures with their own meaning and perception of words or gestures. Understanding culture will help you to be more aware of these differences and so avoid big mistakes in your behavior, what we call ‘cultural adjustment’.

How does culture “express” itself?

Even if the contrary can be thought, we are not spontaneous in our behavior. Our cultures, our education, and so on, influence us in everyday situations. That is why once you know people’s values and beliefs, you can often expect and predict their behavior. We can say that our behavior is a reflection of our culture.

Culture is often compared to an iceberg: the visible section of the iceberg is so much shorter than the invisible part under water. Each culture has some aspects which are observable and others that can only be suspected or imagined. Thus the part of culture which is visible, such as behavior, is only a small part of a bigger picture.

To give you a better idea of culture expression, here are listed some examples of cultural behavior: facial expressions, religious beliefs, religious rituals, importance of time, paintings, values, literature, gestures, holiday customs, nature of friendship, notions of modesty, foods and eating habits, understanding of the natural world, concept of self, work ethic, concept of beauty, music, style of dress…

Where does culture come from?

How do people get their culture? How do they learn all the behaviors that are regarded as right and wrong in their society? This process, also known as cultural conditioning, is present in every culture, but the specific behaviors that people have, the precise content of their conditioning, is different from group to group.

Everyone knows that common culture come mainly from a common history which shapes our mind and so have influence on our behavior or way of thinking.

The most important part of your culture will be acquired during your childhood, but you will acquire new behaviors until the end of your life:

  • In Childhood: children learn basics activities as eating, walking, talking, dressing, bathing, etc. These basics are the origin of the future children’s behavior.
  • As Adults: people learn new behavior or new ways to perform thanks to education, travels, etc. Adults learn how to adapt themselves.

How to analyze culture? Or how to have the right behavior?

We can find five steps of culture analyzing:

  1. Observation/Instruction: you become aware of a particular behavior but have not yet tried to do it yourself.
  2. Imitation: now you try to have the same behavior
  3. Reinforcement: people help you by correcting you or showing you.
  4. Internalization: you know how to behave but you still need practice.
  5. Spontaneous Manifestation: you no more need to pay attention to your behavior, it comes naturally.

To go further in behavior/culture analysis, you can make research about Hofstede’s parameters and Hall’s parameter.

Why is understanding culture so important?

When you go into another country than yours, you will be confronted with different behaviors, different foods, and different ways of life. Most of people are amused when they see that. But most of the time they are making fun about, being narrow-minded, forgetting that everybody do not have the same culture.

Understanding culture is important, as it makes you  aware and more sensitive to differences, and you could avoid big mistake in your behavior or maybe adjust, but at least to respect the people that belong to other cultures than your own.

Moreover understanding culture does not only exist in the aim of helping poor little students but it is also a real challenge for international businesses. You will not promote a product in the same way in France or in Germany or in Russia.

Understanding culture is the most important thing when dealing and respecting people. It does not mean, you have to go out of your way to mimic a culture that is different than your own, but you should respect the other culture and treat it a different, not inferior yours!

Differences Between Living in Spain and France

Two European countries with a common border. How different can they be? After having lived many years in both, even though the cultural differences are not shocking, there are some disparities in the daily life.

I have always lived in the Spanish Basque Country, although at the age of sixteen I lived for 2 years in France to attend High School. Just a two hour drive makes such a big difference.


Concerning geographical and climate differences, Spain is considered a “warm” country (it depends also where you are located within the territory), while France is colder. These disparities are basic when comparing any two countries. We will go more deeply and compare French and Spanish lifestyle.

First of all, time schedules. We could say Mediterranean countries have a much more flexible and late schedule, but Spain is well-known for its, some call it, crazy schedules. As I already developed in the post called Differences between living in Spain and the United States, Spanish restaurants serve until 12 or 1 am, and bars and clubs are opened until 6 am.

When I turned eighteen, I decided to continue my studies in the French capital, where this kind of flexibility can also be found as it is the number one location for tourism in the world. As a consequence, it is not a typical French city and could only be compared to other big capitals in the world.

For my first five or six months in France, I did not recognize any big cultural difference. Of course, the language was not the same, but like with any other foreign country. The more time I spent living around French people, the more I realized disparities between these two cultures were based on humor, social values and life perception. You have to get very involved with the French lifestyle in order to be aware of this.

Humor in France is very implicit and many times related to playing with words. I had a hard time understanding French humor at the beginning, but once you get how it works, it can be very funny. I personally consider French humor more harsh than Spanish. They use an indirect style to say what they want and their humor topics are many times controversial for society.  I would say French humor is a smart type of humor which not everybody can understand and have fun with.

Perception of life as I have experienced in France is less “ Carpe Diem” than in Spain. Spain is considered a latino country we live more each day as it could be the last one than the French do. Concerning social values, family is as important in France as in Spain, although less conservative.

Finally, criticism has become the best hobby for French young or older people. I was very shocked with this since my arrival. Unfortunately,  you get used to it very fast without even noticing. As a Spanish saying states: Everything can be copied except for beauty.

Disadvantages of studying abroad

Yes, studying abroad has not only advantages! It would have been too simple: you go to a  foreign country and everything is wonderful, people are nice, your home is beautiful and so on. Lies!!! Studying abroad is not (always) so nice. You might have to face one or even more problems while living abroad and see some of the disadvantages of studying abroad.


#1 Disadvantage of studying abroad: You are not a genius

Reality is hard, I know. Studying in another country does not mean you will learn English or other languages magically. I remember the father of one of my friends: he was British and uses to live in France for 3 years. But he could not speak French because he never tried to learn it. Of course living abroad will help you to understand the language better, but if you do not talk, you will not improve.  That is why you need to pay attention and study, but be reassured because you live in that country it should make study easier and faster.

#2 Disadvantage of studying abroad: You are alone

Even if our society is more and more communicative and even if you are closer to your family and friends thanks to Skype, msn, Facebook and others, it still does not mean it is any easier to study abroad half way round the world. Are any of these people are with you in that unknown country? Nope. That is why you could feel alone and sad sometimes. At the beginning, culture shock will not help you to feel integrated: you will need an ‘adjustment period’. You should create new habits, discover the place you are going to live, meet people for example. I cannot hide to you that it will be hard sometimes. You could feel excluded in the country where you are and not have the social network yet that can give you support and strength. And if, god forbid, something bad might happen back home, you might not have the chance to be with your family and friends and have to stay in that country with your pain and alone.

#3 Disadvantage of studying abroad: Reality can be treacherous

First step in that new country and everything seems weird. Differences can be huge between Europe and Asia or small between France and Belgium. Standard of living can be different: more poor people in Eastern Europe than in Western Europe or you cannot expect the same way of life in India than in United States. You will have to face other behaviors, and some can make you feel uncomfortable if you are not used to them: in United State people are going to speak easily with you in the bus, whereas in Europe (read Paris) if you talk to a  stranger you will probably get an angry look or might even scare people away. Everyone knows that Chinese people are different from Americans, Americans are different from Germans, some differences are obvious others are more subtle. We can name that cultural obstacle. Moreover the food is different, you will have lot of difficulties to find local French cheese in US, or local Italian wine etc. if the culture is different, the food will be too, certainly. Getting used to these cultural differences can be a real disadvantage for your study abroad experience.


#4 Disadvantage of studying abroad: Nothing is free

Another big disadvantage of studying abroad can be the costs. Studying abroad can be really expensive. First, it will depend on your major and university or school you choose, and then it will depend on the country, the city and the place where you want to live (big house or small room?). Moreover most countries do not allow foreign student to work, so you need to have money before you arrive in the country or have someone from home supporting you. The question you have to ask yourself is: can I afford to study abroad?

#5 Disadvantage of studying abroad: One year lost?

For some countries or universities your study abroad credits might not count towards your degree, which of course means your study time will increase, costs will go up and you might be longer dependent on your parents. These  are major disadvantages of studying abroad. Before you leave and join the next study abroad program, you have to considerate this: are you ok with adding one more year to your studies?  Is it useless? High school students who take part in exchange programs abroad often say that they have already studied what they are taught  abroad or that the class is too difficult because nothing is done to support their special needs. Moreover some say they are excluded, a kind of racism or sometimes they are a star at school. But in both case it can be really hard to live.

# 6 Disadvantage of studying abroad: Hard to come back “home”

When you are going to study abroad you only think about the time you are going to spend away. But you forgot that one day you will have to (well, most of us) come back to your beloved home country. It can be as hard to live in another country as to come back to your own. It is called reverse culture shock. But there might be even more disadvantages of studying abroad: What if you fall in Love and have to leave the love of your life because your visa expires or what if your boyfriend or girlfriend from back home broke up with you while you were gone? It will only really hit you once you are back and see all the places where you used to spend time with him or her.

#7 Disadvantage of studying abroad: Last but not least: Your Mom will nag you

Do not laugh! You know as well as me that moms can be really possessive. Oh my little baby is far away, how is s/he doing? She will nag you: you will receive e-mails with hundreds of question and if you do not answer as fast as she wants, retaliation could be horrible. She will create her own Facebook account in the aim to know everything you don’t  want to share with her. Each time you will be on Skype, she will call you. As if your life was hers. You will need to establish rules.

As far as I am concerned I think study abroad is a great opportunity and experience and I am studying abroad since last September. Of course I have no thought about disadvantages when I left, but I certainly had to face one or the other. But at the end, there are more advantages than disadvantages. That is why if you can study abroad, I will say you: “Go! But be prepared”. Do not think that everything is black or white, that the country you are going in, is the greatest of the world or that your home country is the best. Do not have prejudices or false ideas about things. Have only a children view to be curious and surprised and enjoy.

Advantages of Studying Abroad

If you read through this article and got a bit overwhelmed with all the things that could go wrong, whether you should take the plunge and study abroad or not, check out this book: The Global Student is the perfect book to show you that that living abroad is a great way to spark your career and see how many advantages living and studying abroad really has.

Studying abroad with 13, should it be allowed?

Kathleen Megan wrote an article in The Hartford Courant this month concerning a case of discrimination in the University of Connecticut. Colin Carlson, a 13 year old prodigy was denied to attend an African ecology course involving a summer field study in South Africa. Even after his mother offered the university to go with him so as to become liable for his child, the university kept a firm “no” as an answer. On the other side, the university of Connecticut remains silent, even if they say their most important consideration when letting students study abroad is safety.

This article leads to our problematic: Should 13 year old kids be allowed to study abroad?

First of all, considering a 13 year old capable of attending a double-degree carrier is considering that the individual is intelligent and mature enough to deal with the duties and responsibilities that this implies. If this person fulfills these, why would he or she not be able to benefit from the rights and advantages of it?

Studying abroad is an important decision to make and before taking the step, the student should feel prepared and comfortable with the idea of being away from their family, friends and culture. Once he has thought about all of this, age should not be important. Age and maturity are sometimes not linked so age should not be considered as a factor when deciding whether a student is prepared to study abroad or not.
Safety is very important for students abroad no matter the age of the individual, so once again, it is not a question of how old someone is, but how responsible these people are.

Back to the article, Colin Carlson’s teachers and mentors all stated that he is a very good student, responsible and mature. The reason why the University decided not to accept his request is still unknown. We will follow this case closely, so as to discover what justice will determine as fair or ethical.

What is your take on this? Do you think a 13 year old should be allowed to study abroad? Please share your opinion in the comments. We are interested on your opinion on this topic!

Why study a foreign language?

What does ‘study a foreign language’ mean?

Nowadays, more and more people speak at least two languages; it is not an ephemeral trend but an essential way in our changing world. Everything (from people to information) is closer and closer connected thanks to Internet but also thanks to our ability to move and our ever growing desire of knowledge.

Studying a foreign language can be boring (especially in French schools). When you are young, you do not care about English, French, German, Spanish etc, you only know that you are waiting for the break whereas your teacher is trying to obtain from you a word in that incomprehensible language! When you grow up, you begin to understand why knowing a foreign language could be interesting: for egocentric people , it is a way to speak about themselves “I can speak English, Spanish, Chinese blablabla” ; for adventurers, it is a way to communicate with locals; etc.

Firstly, the main aim of studying a language is communication. Human beings love to communicate, to tell their stories and adventures, to slander, to share knowledge… Then language is closely linked to culture, so learning a foreign language also means learning about a foreign culture. And learning more about another culture will make you more open-minded, more able to critic, to compare, to understand people. In our current world there are at least 6,700 different languages with their own history. This means 6,700 ways to communicate but most of us do not speak these 6,700 languages and lot of people speak only one language. In accordance to that knowing only one language seems to make you narrow-minded.

Ten reasons to learn a foreign language

1. To increase your understanding
According to Federico Fellini, an Italian film director, “A different language is a different vision of life.” And he is right! Learning a foreign language will open your mind to another culture. Maybe you will not search to learn more about this other culture but no matter it will increase your memory capacities.

2. To improve career chances
Did you know that around 52% of Europeans can speak two languages fluently whereas only 9% of Americans can? It means that Americans can only work with countries or people speaking their language but also their adaptability in other countries is limited: how can they understand other people if they cannot speak their language and therefore their culture. To know foreign languages does not mean only that you can help your company to trade but also that you are clever or open-minded.

3. To increase native language ability
”Those who know nothing of foreign languages, knows nothing of their own.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said. How could you say your language is the most beautiful if you cannot compare it with others? Moreover learn a foreign grammar will make you more awake about the one of your own language.

4. To sharpen cognitive and life skills
Richard Riley, a former US Secretary could say that “We have strong evidence today that studying a foreign language has a ripple effect, helping to improve student performance in other subjects.” To know different languages improves and encourages critical reflection, you have two words with a same meaning, it makes you aware of the outside world. It forces you to open your mind.

5. To improve chances to get into college or university
Nowadays it is almost unthinkable to speak only one language; if you want to study you need to know at least two languages. Moreover, the more languages you know more it shows your willingness  to communicate, your intellectual capacities for example.

6. To appreciate international literature, music, and film
Movies, books, music everything can be translated. But, unfortunately, when you read poetry, a translation will not give you the exactly feeling, the jokes in the pronunciation etc. Can you understand the sarcastic tone of Oscar Wilde in German as good as in English? I do not think so. How much gets lost in translation? Even in movies, translations are often bad and when you are watching a movie in English with subtitles in your language it is easy to note the differences of meaning.

7. To make travel more feasible and enjoyable
When you go to another country it is not only to visit but also to discover the peoples culture. To know their language will make you able to talk with them and so to know and understand  this foreign culture better. And if you are lost (especially in the countryside) it is better to know the native’s language or at least have the basics down.

8. To expand study abroad options
Obvious reason, you might think. But do you know that in Germany, in France, in Italy etc more and more universities offer classes in English and so people could think that with English they can go everywhere. I agree for universities but not for the daily life.

9. To increase understanding of yourself and your own culture
Knowing another language and another culture gives you the opportunity of having an outside perspective about you and your culture. It will make you multicultural and give you a new view, a new way to see yourself.

10. To make lifelong friends
“The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway.” Henry Boye said. Wa all like to have ‘foreign’ friends, we learn so much from them. But how could you have them if you cannot speak with them.

Thus, studying a foreign language it is not only learning about others or giving you more opportunities for your future but also learning about you.

Differences between living in Spain and the U.S.A

As a Spanish citizen that has spent 10 months living in the USA, I am going to develop the similarities and differences of life in Spain and in the United States.

First of all, Spain has a national official language Spanish, while the United States does not have any official language even though the most spoken language is English. As a matter of fact, there is over 10% of Spanish speaking population in the American territory and 25% of non-native English speaking population in Spain.

This means understanding each other can sometimes become a cultural problem, depending on the state or region where we are in each country.

Secondly, timetables are very different in Spain than in the U.S. In the everyday life, there is a 2 hour gap between the American and the Spanish timing. So as to say, Spanish people have breakfast between 9 and 10am, lunch between 2 and 3pm and dinner between 9 and 10pm. Americans do most things much sooner throughout the day.

Going out is also very different in both countries. Spanish people are used to go out much more often than Americans, no matter what age. In Spain you can see 6 years old children at 12 or 1am in the evening with their parents in a restaurant or a bar enjoying each others company. This would be very shocking for Americans.

Businesses and public places have different timetables too. Businesses in Spain, only stores and boutiques, open from 10am to 2pm and from 5pm to 8pm, while they are opened from 10 am until 7pm in the U.S. That is what is defined as the “siesta”, but mainly by foreigners. This custom is becoming less and less popular in Spain. Also, restaurants serve dinner until 11pm or even 12am while kitchens normally close around 9 or 10pm in the U.S. And bars and clubs close at 5 or 6 am in Spain while at 2 for the Americans. This makes a huge difference in the night life style between these two countries.

A very big difference of consumption is the sizes of goods sold in the U.S.A comparing to those sold in Europe as a whole. Americans buy enormous bottles of shampoo, for example while those sizes do not even exist in Europe. At the same time, housing is not also the same. Houses are smaller in Spain because more expensive. In big cities the majority of people live in apartments while in houses in the U.S. This is a notable difference.

The cultural disparities, such as food, music or art are different, but like between any other country in the world. Clothing is “owned” by multinational companies like Zara, Gap or luxury companies in both countries so this is not a shocking difference.

Even though there are many differences and clichés from both countries, living in the U.S has been an amazing experience for me. I know that living in Spain for an American will be as a valuable experience as it has been for me to live in the U.S.A.

Adapting to a New Culture

Adapting to a new culture is not easy. When you move abroad, especially when the culture is very different from your own, you will be frustrated. The best thing about living abroad and adapting to a new culture is what you make of it! It can be the best experience of your lifetime, or it can be unbearable and all you want to do  is go home. Living abroad and experiencing a different culture is an adventure and a challenge, and most likely the most exiting time of your life. You have to become independent and adjust to this new culture and all this without the support and help of your friends and family. This is quite a big change.

Do not assume anything and jump to conclusions!

When you move abroad, whether it is for an internship abroad, study abroad or because you found a great job abroad, it will be a big change in your life, and you should be prepared for this change and accept it. When I moved to China, I thought: Well, I have a lot of experience living abroad, living in China will be a piece of cake! I can tell you that: It wasn’t like that.


Every country and culture is different and just because you lived abroad before and liked it, does not guarantee that you will like it this time. You have to learn a lot of things from scratch, understand the culture and most importantly: stop making assumptions. This was my biggest mistake, when I moved to China. I just assumed, things would work out, because similar things had worked out in Germany and the US. But people have a different perspective and do things differently in other cultures.

The biggest lesson I learned while I lived in China was: There is not better way of doing things, it is just a different way.

Of course I was frustrated, when I tried to travel in China, but then, a few days before my departure, I found out that I could not buy a return ticket right away, but had to hope that there would be return tickets available at my destination. But to be honest, who am I to judge the efficiency of this? I only lived in China for 6 months, I barely scratched the top of understanding their culture. So I am definitely  not in a position to criticize their way of doing things, because I simply might not know the whole background of why they are doing it that way. Are you?

Adapting to a new culture is not always easy!Adapting to a new culture requires a new level of open mindedness

Yes, of course you are open minded, otherwise you would hardly consider living abroad, right? But living abroad requires a whole new level of open mindedness. Especially, when you move to a country that has a very different culture, it will be hard to get the idea out of your head: “How can they be so stupid? If we do it my way, it just makes so much more sense and is easier, quicker and more efficient.” To overcome these thoughts, you have to be more open minded than ever before. I struggled with this quite a lot, when I lived in China. It is also very normal and I do not believe any person that has lived abroad and says he or she has not had that thought in their heads. The only way you can overcome this, is to remind yourself constantly. When you have a frustrating experience, like I had with my train tickets, calm down and remind yourself, that you should be open to other ways of doing things. After all, you are a guest and, you are the foreigner.


How would you like it, if somebody walks into your home, and tells you that everything you do just doesn’t make sense and is stupid?

Learn to work with the culture not against it!

Instead of working against the culture, you are much better off, when you try to find its strengths and how to get the best results, even if the method of achieving these results are different. Try out different ways of asking your colleagues or friends and see, which approach brings you your desired results. When you know, that your friends will always be at least 45 minutes late, tell them to be there half an hour before you get there. The same is true for working abroad and dealing with your colleagues. If you have a deadline, give them a deadline that is 3 days before, so you have enough buffer time, in case something goes wrong. Instead of just criticizing the way people do things, try to find solutions, how you can get them to achieve the results that you want.

When you are adapting to a new culture, always keep in mind that you can also learn a thing or two from the other cultures. Every culture does something better than your own, so who not use this to your advantage and learn from it?

Have you lived in another country and experienced different cultures? Share your experience here. Or if you have any questions or problems adapting, let me know, and I will be happy to give you more advice!