“Consciously or unconsciously, a lot of us find it a chore to work with people whose English is not strong. Whether we want to admit it or not, some of us think it is a waste of our time to engage them in conversation. Engaging them calls for intentionality. If we are not thinking about it, then we are more likely to overlook people whose English is not strong. We have to be intentional about hearing from them and aware of our own prejudices. If we truly value other people’s opinions, then we need to encourage them to participate.” – Edem Dzunu.
As the Baobab People founder highlights above, it’s essential for an international student to be unbiased and respectful when meeting people from alternate backgrounds.
During your study abroad adventure, you’ll come across a variety of learners from all walks of life. A heightened sense of cultural appreciation will help you stay grounded throughout your studies.
International students often arrive at a foreign university and experience culture shock. Your surroundings are so different to the ones you’re used to and it can take a long while to adjust.
Many learners view culture shock as a negative experience, but it can also prove to be positive. By opening your heart and mind up to another culture, you’re broadening your mindset and seeing things from another perspective.
How does that help me?
In a professional sense, it shows employers that you’re a confident individual who isn’t afraid of new challenges – even if those challenges happen to be on the other side of the world!
It also exposes your patience. In times of confusion and doubt, you remain resilient, strengthening your character and allowing your growth mindset to flourish.
Cross-cultural communication requires that we listen first and then speak. We seek to understand before seeking to be understood. Not only is this good contextualization, it’s good manners!
— (@calebcrider) August 29, 2018
Why should cross-cultural communication be treated as a valuable study skill?
There are many international students out there who have gone through their study abroad experience without guidance on the country’s cultural norms and values.
Alternatively, there are those who have experienced cultural prejudice, ignorance and discrimination during their time at university, and haven’t had anyone there to help discuss or tackle it.
This may be because there aren’t many study skills sessions that take into account the importance of cross-cultural communication.
By acquiring cross-cultural communication skills, you’ll be able to express yourself with confidence and understand how to be patient with other people who aren’t from a similar background.
It’ll also provide a great opportunity to meet fellow students from other cultures and discuss your differences. By opening up the topic of cross-cultural communication, exciting community events and gatherings may occur- which is also a prime time to taste delicious food and beverages from other countries!
Ultimately, cross-cultural communication creates equal opportunities and calls for fair judgement. Without placing it in university study skills sessions, students miss out on beneficial tools and techniques for later life.