Interested in learning about a different part of the world – but not sure how to do so?
Cultural exchange programs like Academic Year in America (AYA) offer a great way to start. With so much to discover, though, even participants of our program may be stumped on the best ways to learn.
For that reason, we’ve helped narrow down the list for you. Here are 7 of our top tips towards learning about a different culture.
1. Learn the Language
The first step towards learning about a different culture is learning the native language. The same goes for English speaking countries, too. Even other countries that speak English have unique phrases and connotations. To truly familiarize yourself with culture, getting to know a bit about the language is key.
2. Get Festive for the Holidays
Every culture celebrates holidays differently. Whether you’re an AYA host family, Local Coordinator, or an international exchange student, getting festive for the next holiday is a fun trick for discovering different customs.
3. Try New Food
The world is an endless cookbook – and every country offers a different recipe. Whether you’re tackling a recipe yourself or dining out at a restaurant, sampling a country’s native cuisine is a wonderful way to experience culture.
4. Don’t be Afraid to Ask Questions
Hoping to learn more? Ask questions! This may seem obvious, but it’s so important. Reading up on a different country and culture is great, but the real answers come from someone who has experienced it first-hand. Being as open as possible will maximize your cultural exchange experience.
5. Visit a Museum
Taking your exchange student to a local museum is a fun way to showcase your community’s culture and history. Explaining some exhibits and pointing out your favorite works of art will shed light on your area’s culture. Similarly, asking about some of their favorite works of art will have the same effect.
6. Listen to Local Music
Think about your favorite song: Why is it your favorite? Music tells the story of a society’s character and history. A simple way to start learning about a different culture’s music is to ask someone what their all-time favorite song is – and why! That song alone might tell a great story.
7. Keep an Open Mind
Unless you’re open to differences, your cultural exchange experience isn’t going to go very far. Opening yourself up to global understanding is key when learning about a different culture.
With an open mind and heart, you’ll likely learn the best lesson of all: that we’re really not all that different.