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Don’t let culture shock get the better of you: Nine tips to survive your foreign internship

Once the initial excitement of arriving in a new country starts to fade, the reality of settling down and adjusting to a new way of life, sets in. Yes, the world has become more global and most of us are exposed to different cultures, but if the language, culture and customs change every 200 kms in India, imagine how different they would be 10,000 kms away.

Here are some tips that will have you survive during your time abroad:

  • Learn about the culture: Before you leave, learn as much as you can about the culture in the country that you are interning in. This will help you settle down much faster, and will help avoid culture shocks. Read up on the country and the specific region you are going to. Understanding basic things such as how people greet each other in different countries, etiquettes and what is acceptable or not, will go a long way in helping you adjust to the new surroundings. For example, in many Western societies, asking personal questions is considered to be rude, so is staring.
  • Learn the language: While it may not be possible to learn the language completely, if you are interning in a non-English speaking country, it helps to know important words and phrases that will aid you in your daily life.
  • Learn the rules: Be aware of how rules work in different countries. For example in the United States, if a cop asks you to pull over, you are not supposed to get out of your car. Similarly, you need to be very careful when you cross the road and follow all traffic rules in most western countries.
  • Make friends locally: Don’t stick to people of your own nationality. You have come here to learn, and the best learning will come from interacting with the locals. Step out of your comfort zone and immerse yourself in the whole experience.
  • Budget your money: Keep tab on how much funds you have and plan your finances accordingly. The last thing you want is to be stuck without money abroad.
  • Stop comparing: Things are done differently in different countries. Stop comparing and don’t say, ‘Back home, we did…’ Don’t expect the same level of customer service as you are used to back home. Don’t fight with something if it is not how it used to be back home, instead adjust and adapt to the surroundings and situation. Expectations are different everywhere.
  • Travel: You are in a new country so step out during the weekends and see the place. Travelling will expose you to the culture, broaden your mind and teach you things that college would never be able to. Explore the city, go to all the touristy and off-beat places. Travel by local transport, try the local cuisine (if you have the budget for it), or simply just roam around during your free time.
  • Keep a diary: This would surely be a trip of a lifetime – keeping a journal will help you remember things that you did, your experiences and your learnings.

About the author:

Aniket Singh works for Apple Inc. in California, United States. He is also the author of “Intern Abroad This Summer”.

Aniket holds a BTech degree in Electrical Engineering from the IIT, Madras, Chennai, and a Master’s degree in Wireless Systems from Politecnico Di Torino in Torino, Italy. He has interned at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom and Ecole Polytechnic Federale de Lausanne in Lausanne, Switzerland during this studies.

Visit him at www.aniketsingh.com

Check out his book at www.internabroadthissummer.com


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