Travelling abroad means discovering new cultures, new people, new landscapes, new ways of thinking, being amazed, afraid, curious, adventurous, and much more. The discovery of the world around us is the best way to learn. I am not only talking about learning a language here. I’m also talking about learning what life is. Life is full of diversity, that’s what constitutes its true richness. My advice: take advantage of this diversity whenever you can to enrich yourself with wonderful life experiences.
You can do this through different means. The most common one, is to travel as a tourist. Whether you want to go prepared and plan your trip by booking your accommodation and finding the best activities to do well in advance, or whether you prefer the thrill of adventure, backpacking and exploring hidden places you had no idea existed, you will enjoy discovering what this foreign culture has in store for you. For some people, not speaking the local language is a barrier, and prevents them from travelling abroad. However, this is not always an issue. Body language and gestures can communicate so much and help people to understand each other, even though they don’t speak the same language! You will slowly realize that you have resources you were not aware of. You just need to be patient and have a strong desire to communicate. Keep in mind that, nowadays, technologies, like vocabulary apps, can help you learn the basics of a language and manage to make yourself understood!
Though the most common way to travel and learn is as a tourist, it isn’t the only one. Students, for instance, often have the chance to go abroad for academic exchange programmes and can attend classes in a foreign university for a few months or even years. Attending classes with local students allows you to learn even more about the culture around you. What could be better than chatting with foreigners to learn about other ways of thinking? Of course, you can experience a bit of a shock if the culture is quite different from yours and you will have to adapt progressively to this new culture. At the very beginning, it is easy to become frustrated in your attempts to express yourself properly. Don’t worry, just let go and speak! It will be the perfect chance to learn the language even faster! Don’t be afraid to share some of your own culture with locals as well. You may be surprised to discover similarities between both cultures! In the end, if you spend a year or more in a country, you will better understand its customs and mentality. Adopting a different lifestyle for a while will change you, expose you to other perspectives, maybe even make you want to live or work abroad. Many people say that the more they travel, the more they want to travel. It is like a thirst for discovery and learning that grows and grows and cannot be quenched. Once you have opened the door on the world, it is hard to close it and stay home.
You can also choose to attend language courses abroad. In this way, you both discover the culture, and learn the language itself. Some agencies like Languagecourse.net (http://www.languagecourse.net/) have partnerships with language schools around the globe and give you the opportunity to live with host families while studying the language. You can also try their Vocabulary Trainer app which is available for download at the Google Playstore and in iTunes:
So, feel free to break away and loosen the stranglehold of your own culture. Let’s learn what’s out there!