By Athena Harris [Guest Author from www.housinganywhere.com]
One of the biggest challenges when you are moving to study or teach English abroad is finding a place to live that will enable you to make the most of your international experience. There is so much to take into consideration like budget, amenities & proximity to work or school. Naturally you want to be close cultural attractions, or perhaps the best cafes and nightlife. It’s just a lot of big decisions and responsibilities which you have to base on aspects of your life which you had never even asked yourself about until right there and then. My advice: take it as a period of discovery, during which you are not only going to be finding out about who you are but also become much more insightful as to how people surrounding you are.
While abroad, doing a Flatshare (sharing an apartment) with people from other cultures is a great way of getting the most out of this discovery phase and these days, chances are that you will be living with with people from all over the world, all with their own habits and ways. This is a situation, which will take some time to adjust to, here are some tips to making the process go smoother.
Start by being aware of your own culture, values and attitudes.
Understand that people who have not grown up in the same country or context as you can sometimes interpret some of your behaviors the wrong way. To avoid this, seek feedback from your friends and family to find out more about what type of person you are and what might come across as offensive to people who do not know you. You might also consider conducting a little research into what type of stereotypes other cultures might hold for people from your country. (Here's a fun example from Thrillist: How American Tourists Stand Out in Other Countries). It might seem a bit odd to learn about your culture after living it for so long, but if you gain an understanding of how others might perceive you, you will be better prepared to address and clarify any misunderstandings or awkward situations.
Get rid of your stereotypes
Knowing about the values, expectations, and beliefs which drive individuals' behaviors from certain cultures should inform you how to behave towards an individual, but what it does not do is inform you about the individual himself. Most people confine others to a stereotype, as do you, and it is never a nice feeling to get the impression that you are being put in the same basket as everyone else. So approach them with some guidelines, but do not think that you know them.
Be understanding & patient
Now that you know that people are all different and that you should not approach them with pre-conceived ideas, be understanding when you get to know them. Try to be open-minded so that you can start off on the good foot, and also understand what type of person they are. This will facilitate communication with them.
Engage with your flatmates & do stuff together
To better get to know each other, plan to spend some time doing what each of you likes to do in your spare time. This way you will give some insight as to what type of person you are and will be much more relatable. Also, the other person might be from somewhere where they do not usually do these activities. Cook meals together, go out on the town, listen to music, take a weekend trip, play some board games. The opportunities to bond and learn from each other are endless, but sometimes it can take some initiative to actually make it happen.
People are more similar than you think most of the time. We grow up in such a large world with so much information everywhere and sometimes we can be mislead into thinking something which we should not believe. We have had the opportunity to make up our own mind. So be kind; you don’t know from where people come and what their story is.
Hot Tip! Start your multi-cultural living experience by booking your room abroad with HousingAnywhere.com--Europe’s number one booking platform for international students going abroad, trusted by over 130 universities worldwide. HousingAnywhere helps their student to find quality accommodation near their university, hosted by trust landlords.
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