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The Benefits of Cultural Exchange

Whether you are the one in a foreign country or you just happened to meet or host a foreigner who landed in your country. You will realize that cultural exchange is, in fact, something that almost everyone gets excited about. Not to the extent of spilling everything on the first meeting, of course, but the desire to know about everything different from one’s own is reliable.

 People will start telling you about themselves, and you will immediately begin to pick up all the cultural prints that blend with the details of their story. The same will happen to them once you start telling them yours. Slowly, the conversation will take a different direction where everyone inquires about aspects in the other’s culture while expressing how these very aspects are thought of or seen as far as their culture goes. This, for example, is the purest form of cultural exchange. This article will discuss nine benefits of exchanging culture with more focus on experiencing life in a foreign country since the individual there is on the receiving end more than they are in their home country. 

  1. New Languages

     Languages are intriguing, and a person speaking a one, in particular, may spike your curiosity if you never heard about it. If you already know about it, what it sounds like, or know a few vocabularies, you will be all ears when they talk because that’s the best chance for you to pick up not only vocabulary but also mannerisms and gestures which are also important. Let’s be honest. Sometimes, languages stop to be of that much interest once you are asked to sit down on a chair before a table to be lectured. Grammar rules, vocabulary, expressions, and other aspects all can get pretty hard to remember and even may start to feel like a burden to the brain to handle. However, if you remember that, for example, your Greek friend used always to say a particular expression at certain situations or used a specific verb tense, it will stick better with you as memory instead of a hard lesson once you try to apply it in improving your Greek language acquisition.

2. New Perspective on Life

     Culture does teach about wisdom and looking at life from both sides, but you’ll always find more pieces of knowledge and completely different ways of looking at matters in different cultures than you had ever thought. These can either be stories about people and how they behaved in a given situation that is probably similar to the one you are going through, or proverbs carrying a lesson or a solution to a problem. It is said that a culture/ language added or learned has the effect of acquiring a new way of thinking. So, every time you learn about a culture or literature, you will have more ways to think about decisions and other matters. You may even be surprised at how limited your thinking was before. 

3. Increased Tolerance to Differences and Diversity

     You will learn more about the differences and start to respect them even more. Sometimes, cultures with all their differences meet at a specific aspect or point, and sometimes, they show significant similarities, which is admirable and shows that the human mind thinks in the same way although circumstances and methods of execution may slightly differ. Diversity can also teach you that everyone is free to do things their way and that your way may or may not always be the best way to go. You can even adopt other cultures’ ways of doing things if you think a change is needed or if you want to see how insightful that might turn out to be.

4. Positive Mindset

     If anything, the cultural exchange will help you to start appreciating the fuller half of the glass more. You would be able to reflect on your own life and past actions when listening to other people’s stories, past experiences, and mistakes. You would also feel thankful for what you have and what you are and even think of working on bettering yourself. The cultural exchange may teach you to look at problems as a chance of learning and experiencing something new rather than seeing them as being absolute anxiety-inducing inconveniences. 

5. Better Communication Skills

     Being in a culturally diverse environment will keep you on your toes in the right way. Because you are representing your own country, you will be more aware of yourself. You will always feel the necessity to be cautious and polite in order not to offend anyone in any way and to convey the best image possible about your country and your people. You will have to inquire about offensive manners or gestures to completely stay away from them and look for ways and words that express respect and politeness. You will also have to make attempts to convey any number of ideas you have in mind to keep a conversation going. Such everyday situations will also enrich your brain with all those languages you hear daily, even if unintentionally. As a result, you may end up with communicative luggage that can help you survive day-to-day issues. 

6. Better Problem-Solving Skills

     Problems are part of everyday life, and they are set to break out at any moment in any context or situation. Being in a foreign country without the usual sources you used to consult, and without the conventional solutions you would have often went with, you are obliged to push forward, get out of your box, and get creative with what you have in order to solve the problems you may face. This will result in a noticeable development in your way of assessing problems and your capacity for generating solutions. Not only that, but you will also feel like you have some extra free mental space as well.

7. Boost in Self-Esteem

     Being able to communicate, solve problems, and survive different situations when you are in a foreign country proves that you are quite capable of decent performance and that you have excellent social and linguistic skills. That means that you don’t have to hesitate to feel anxious over any matter or issue anymore because you have experienced similar things that happened to you before. You did rather well in handling them. As your skills continue to get better in the future, you might do just as well if not much better and with more thoughtfulness and wit.

8. Quick Adaptation Ability

     Life is all about ups and downs, and you can never change that or adapt it to your own pace. The only way is to learn how to get yourself to adapt to those ups and downs. You will definitely face more obstacles than you can keep count of, and it will be difficult with the first few obstacles because you might still be new to the environment, but you will soon develop quick adaptability. Once you get over a hurdle, you would realize that another one will come, and you will feel less anxious about it than you did before. Being able to stop feeling worried and anxious is very crucial because it will only blind you from seeing clearly through situations and thinking straight to find solutions.

9. New Bonds and Friendships

     When you are in a foreign country, and you are living with a hosting family, interactions happen all the time. Thanks to that, bonds form and grow stronger that they can last for a lifetime. Most hosts will gradually start to feel like their host is a member of their family, and most of them would still keep in touch with each other even after the stay is long over. Daily life situations, there may also introduce you to new friendships of different backgrounds and as a result, widen your social circle so that you may even plan to visit one another in later times. 

     Cultures have always been a thrilling topic. Being able to experience one or many of them is a great chance to learn a lot of things you probably will not even hear about in schools or college, let alone learn full lessons about. Cultures can be incredibly insightful because they widen your thought spectrum and enlarge your horizon. They also create bridges between nations, form strong friendships between individuals, and boost self-esteem thanks to cross-cultural skills. People start to feel confident enough to break the ice separating one from the other and start bonding with each other in many ways, such as discussing and recommending works of local literature, discussing languages, talking about traditions and customs, or even through sharing food. That kind of bond survives for years on end. Cultures are of value, and they become all the more valuable when we start to think of how they are slowly fading away from our backgrounds and lives, especially when the world is gradually developing and adopting one global culture. Cultural exchange can, therefore, make a great way to keep our cultures alive and thriving through transmitting them to one another and by regarding them as precious memories never to forget.

Further Readings:

https://www.interexchange.org/articles/work-travel-usa/2013/06/24/5-benefits-of-cultural-exchange-for-international-students/

https://jobs.disneycareers.com/cultural-exchange-program

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