The Student News Site of Kent State University

a magazine

The Student News Site of Kent State University

a magazine

The Student News Site of Kent State University

a magazine

Embracing New Cultures While Abroad

Art by: Ceci Foley

Abandoning life as you know it to embark on a journey abroad is one of the most daring yet meaningful decisions a person can make. If done with an open heart and mind, this experience will allow you to not only have a deeper understanding of the world but also yourself.


Being catapulted into a foreign place that is not only geographically far from your home, but culturally far as well, can be extremely overwhelming– especially for someone who has never ventured outside of their home country. These feelings of confusion and uncomfort are completely normal, but how you navigate them will single-handedly determine the type of experience you have.


If you find yourself currently residing in this state of discomfort, I welcome you to digest the fact that although you are feeling this way, you have persevered and rejected the idea of running back home. This confirms that you are strong enough to overcome this feeling of discomfort.


Now you can pat yourself on the back, and open yourself up to one key factor that is crucial in allowing yourself to fully experience your life abroad:embracing new cultures.


The reason so many people feel an overwhelming sense of discomfort when in a new country stems from the fact they are seeking comfort in their own culture, sometimes intentionally but often subconsciously, in the places they go, and feel lost when they do not find it. To avoid this, rewiring your brain is necessary. Even though you have walked into cafes countless times in your own country, you should treat walking into a cafe in a new country as a completely new experience that has infinite things to teach you. You should think of every mundane experience in a new country as a new journey, and instead of working to find familiarity, you should work to learn and appreciate the ways of the locals and acclimate yourself to their lifestyle.




Even though you most likely made an effort to learn the language of your new country before you arrived, realistically, you probably only know the basics and that’s normal and acceptable. Having minimal knowledge of the new language in question often makes one feel too insecure to use the small portion of the language they do know, in fear of being judged or causing annoyance to the locals they are conversing with. However, this fear is meant to be powered through because as you use your minimal knowledge, you will not only become more comfortable speaking, but you will slowly begin to learn more making you more confident with each conversation. In my experience, locals truly respect visitors attempting to use their language, even if it is nowhere near perfect. If you demonstrate a true effort, you will most times be met with respect and encouragement —and oftentimes service is even better.




To truly experience a new culture, you must immerse yourself in the local cuisine. Taking yourself out of your food comfort zone can be challenging but important in understanding a culture and feeling one with it. If you eat in a way that is familiar to you and only visit restaurants that are available in your home country, it is more likely that you will never rid yourself of feeling like a foreigner and your discomfort will persist. Instead, make an effort to visit local restaurants and cafes that you would have never been exposed to and order things that you have never tried, or even better, never heard of before. In doing this, you will find new appreciation and admiration for your temporary home.. Missing food from your home country is unavoidable, and it is necessary to seek out what you miss sometimes, but not constantly. In fact, it feels even more fulfilling to eat the foods you know and love after a long break from them.



Nightlife is one aspect of a new culture that can be drastically different from your own, especially for young people. The biggest difference is usually the music. Of course, since you are in a new country, music at most clubs will not be in your native language. This can be frustrating for some people, as they find it difficult to vibe and dance to music that they do not lyrically understand. Due to this discomfort, the majority of people end up going to clubs that are filled with visitors from their home country that play music they are used to. This not only takes away from having an authentic experience abroad, but once again, it just exacerbates the feeling of discomfort you have when you leave those clubs. For a moment in time, you are in a familiar bubble, but when you leave the club, you are launched back into the real world. Instead of rejecting music just because you don’t understand the lyrics, use this opportunity to focus on the beats and observe how the people around you dance. If you give it a chance, you may discover that you enjoy it, and if you do, consistently listening to music in a language you are trying to learn is one of the most effective ways to master it. Music can bring people together, and what better way to interact with locals than when they are dancing and having a good time. In these situations, you can interact with people in an environment that doesn’t force conversation. Removing the element of conversation, which is likely your biggest stressor and barrier, allows you to be able to soak in a culture with less pressure.


I’ve often heard people say that they regret not doing or seeing enough while abroad, but I have never heard anyone say that they regret immersing themselves into their new environment. Growth comes from pushing through discomfort because if you can do that, you will quickly learn there are many other things that you can do. Soaking up a new culture and making an effort to be part of it will not only help you feel more comfortable in your new environment, but it will teach you more than you could have ever learned if you remained in your comfort zone.

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Hi! I’m Annie Gleydura, A Magazine’s editor-in-chief. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important and entertaining news from the realms of fashion, beauty and culture. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate to A Magazine.

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