#VelitaAbroad – How to Be Comfortable with Cultural Differences When Studying Abroad

By: Velita Stamber

Hi! My name is Velita Stamber and I am a 17-year-old exchange student from Indonesia. I am currently enrolled in AFS (American Field Service) program and living in Italy for one year. I live with a magnificent Italian family who welcomes me as their own child. During my second semester here, I will be sharing stories and insight that I encounter during this amazing experience abroad.

Milan, Italy
Milan, Italy

 

I am here now in Italy and my actual home and parents are so far away from me. Sometimes I just miss all the things back home like the weather, the people and the culture. I would like to talk about cultural learning. I can say that this experience makes me stronger and more selfless. I am in the process of getting to know myself deeply.

The culture here is very different of course! I will give you all a simple example, here in Italy we eat sweets only for breakfast. Meanwhile in Indonesia, I used to eat carbohydrates, like rice with eggs. At the beginning I felt that this culture is weird. But when I told my Italians friends about this, they told me  I am the one who is weird. I realized then there is no weird or bad culture, it’s just DIFFERENT. The difference can be uncomfortable, and it’s up to you how to handle the differences.  I learned I can understand and deal with these differences, and the “weirdness” I have and the “strangeness” I feel are the best ways to share my culture. My suggestion is that you embrace the differences. You need to be flexible and  try something new. Of course not everything may seem good to you, because we all have different points of view.

Living abroad makes me stronger. I need to be brave to take on the challenges here, like the cultural differences, the language, and even the weather! I am a tropical girl who loves beach and the sun. When I got here, it was summer and I didn’t find anything different. But now is winter time: the first winter for me. The first time for me to touch the snow, and feel how cold and soft it is. I am very grateful that I am here now, able to face what I have never seen before- to touch everything and to feel it all.

 

exchange school studentsSchool here is different too.  We go to school Monday to Saturday from 8 o’clock till 1. It’s not as much schooling compared to my Indonesian high school, so I enjoy it. Test, exams, even oral fill my every day as an exchange student.  It’s been a challenge for me to do it all. Everything here is different, including the language! Here, all the grades depend by oral test. It’s called interrogazione or interrogation. Sometimes we get nervous, but practically, we just need to relax. We have to study as hard, but we still have fun with it. The students here are very amazing, curious, and just awesome. Right now I am doing Lo Stage, or a training period, where I need to be a volunteer at school. I chose a kindergarten because I adore kids. image2I act as their teacher. This is also a cool experience. I interact with them, play with them, and talk with them. This project is related to psychology, which is my major.

RomeMy favorite experience so far has been visiting Rome: the destination of my dreams. Rome 2We also visited Venezia on Carnival Day, where I got my face painted and posed with these costumed characters.carnival

 

Challenge yourself and find who you really are. Don’t be scared of the world and start to travel abroad.

Tante cose da fare, tante cose da sapere, vai a trovare qualcosa nuova. Non è per loro, ma per te!!

So many things to do, so many things to know, go find something new! Not for them, but for you….

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