Dear Sue: “International Freak-Out”
I am going on May Term this summer to a foreign country and I have never been out of the country. I am extremely nervous. Do you have any advice or tips for people leaving the country for the first time?
I have experienced a similar problem. My first piece of advice would be making sure that you’re educated on the country. With this, I mean more than the obvious. Not only is it good to know the language, but you should educate yourself on the “do’s” and “don’ts.” For example, body language is different from culture to culture, so any gesture you do in America, such as giving a thumbs-up, would not be accepted in every country in Europe.
Also, if you fear your skills of the other language aren’t perfect, remember to think about people learning English. You do not judge or belittle them because they don’t understand or aren’t highly fluent in English. Well, this applies for all languages. Just because you are not super fluent in the other language, they will still understand what you are trying to say. Also, you are not going alone. You have the instructors and other students to help you communicate.
My last bit of advice: just relax. This is meant to be a learning experience and to have fun. So be open- minded and don’t call it quits on the first or second day. Take in your new environment and learn from it. Set a goal for yourself and strive, not just survive.
Best wishes and good luck with your international endeavors.