Stories From Abroad

 

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Stories From Abroad (83)

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Hear first-hand stories from students who have built essential international skills by studying, volunteering, interning, teaching or working abroad. This is your portal to career-boosting international adventures!

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Stories From Abroad

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Asia (22)
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Australia, New Zealand & Oceania (4)
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Central America & the Caribbean (1)
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Eastern Europe & Russia (2)
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Middle East & North Africa (1)
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North America (includes Mexico) (5)
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South America (8)
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Sub-Saharan Africa (11)
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Western Europe (29)
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Intern Abroad (13)
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Learn A Language Abroad (6)
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Study Abroad (33)
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Teach English Abroad (13)
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Travel Smarts (5)
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Volunteer Abroad (15)
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Work Abroad (5)
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Working Vacations (4)
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Loving Life In Lyon
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American Freshman In London
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Skill-Building In Bonn
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Gaga For Ghana!
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An Unforgettable Adventure In Nanjing
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Rolling With The Punches In Seoul
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Now Or Never In Colombia
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Enthusiasm, Education and Experience in Greece
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Fast Friendship In Korea
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Tips From Tasmania
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Design And Dining In Korea
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Getting Sporty In Switzerland!
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Learning The Local Ways Of Addis Ababa
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English Teaching In Eastern Europe
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Going Solo In Spain!
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Finding Home, By Teaching Abroad
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Hooked On Volunteering!
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Making Contacts Count In The UK
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China, South Africa And Beyond!
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An Eye-Opening Experience Teaching in South Korea
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A Canadian Globe-Trotter Visits The US
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Passionate About Panama
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Out And About In Paris
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A Year In Marvelous Mexico!
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Making The Most Of Milano
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Ten Years Teaching In Seoul
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Springtime In Spain
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Beyond The Call Of Duty In Africa
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Simpatico In Florence
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Do It Yourself! A Proactive Intern In Rome
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A Professional Visit To Vietnam
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Communicating Creatively In Spain
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A Warm Welcome In Mexico
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Studied in France
Carleton University
Her thoughts on Motivation
Studying international business was a good reason to go abroad and experience how globalization has affected the business world.
Her thoughts on The Application Process
The visa application process is long and confusing. There was definitely a lot of confusion along the way. But don’t be discouraged; it’s completely doable.
Her thoughts on Pre-Departure Preparation
Read a lot! Read about the history, culture, and people of the city you’re planning on staying in. Gather as much information as you possibly can.
Her thoughts on Taking It All In
Through Facebook I signed up for a few exchange student groups in my host cities, which allowed me to participate in events they organized and get to know a lot of people.
Her thoughts on Language Learning
The big success for me was the fact that my language skills improved tremendously. I came to Lyon barely being able to keep up with a conversation and left being able to speak with ease.
Her thoughts on Boosting Your Career
During my stay I was able to network a lot and meet not only other students, but also professionals.
Her thoughts on Personal Growth
My travels also improved my communication skills, my cultural understanding, independence, leadership skills, and helped me develop a thicker skin.
Studied in the UK
SUNY: University at Albany
Her thoughts on Motivation
Ever since I was young I’ve been fascinated with Europe. Experiencing a culture different from my own was something that I knew I had to do.
Her thoughts on Cultural Differences
Americans are loud! Even at the pubs and clubs in London I felt like we were being the loudest ones!
Her thoughts on Taking It All In
Savor every moment. Take in all the sights, smells, and noise and appreciate it! And remember: the most amazing experiences aren’t planned!
Worked in Germany
McGill University
Her thoughts on Adaptation
I was surprised how integrated I became within my adopted community. I ended up getting to know a lot of locals. I was invited to a wedding and even joined a marching band!
Her thoughts on Language Learning
For me it was really a matter of building my confidence in the language, because simple things such as making a phone call felt like big obstacles initially.
Studied in Ghana
SUNY: University at Albany
Her thoughts on Motivation
Since I was a little girl, my dream has been to travel the world. I’ve always wanted to fill my passport and have stamps from countries in all seven continents.
Her thoughts on Coming Home
All I could talk about was Ghana: how much I had fallen in love with the country, and how much I wanted to go back, this time to do humanitarian work and be a volunteer
Her thoughts on Taking It All In
The second I walked in to a slave castle and could really smell Ghana’s past, it hit me: that’s when I truly realized “Wow Sylvia, we’re in Ghana.”
Her thoughts on Coming Home
Ghana had become a part of me – as cliché as that may sound. I had learned so much and had so much fun that I wanted to stay forever.
Her thoughts on Boosting Your Career
Witnessing great poverty in Africa made me want to help in the progress of a Third World country. Ghana changed my life, and helped me find my career path. 
Studied in China
Stony Brook University
Her thoughts on Motivation
A million miles away from my family, in a foreign land, with a language that is 100% different from English? Sounds like an adventure to me!
Her thoughts on Cultural Differences
If you looked at students from a distance, you could tell which were Americans from far away!
Her thoughts on The Application Process
Don’t be afraid to call the people in charge of a program to bombard them with questions: it will help narrow down your options and find the best one.
Taught English in South Korea
Wilfrid Laurier
Her thoughts on Motivation
The decision to leave my family and country for a year was just the ticket my mind and soul needed to adjust to a career lifestyle.
Her thoughts on The Application Process
The key to finding a job online is to be available to talk at almost any time. In some cases, if you don’t respond to a recruiter within a day, they will move on.
Her thoughts on First Impressions
It is my eighth month here in Seoul, but if you asked me in my first month whether I thought I would still be here now, I would have said no.
Volunteered & Taught English in Colombia
Her thoughts on The Application Process
I poured over the Internet. Searching for the perfect organization became my second job. Knowing exactly what I wanted from a program made it easy for me to sort through all the organizations out there.
Her thoughts on Communicating Abroad
I got to know so many people just through body language. I learned that I could follow a conversation through gestures, facial expressions and tone.
Her thoughts on Personal Growth
Living in a different culture for such a long time changes your perception, which was apparent on my return home. I looked at everything differently and challenged the things that I considered normal.
Studied & Volunteered in Greece
University of Wisconsin: Oshkosh
Her thoughts on Boosting Your Career
I wanted to find a trip that would create meaning for my major, and help with my goals. I knew that as a future educator, this could be incredibly beneficial for my career.
Her thoughts on The Right Attitude
It’s important to have a go-with-the-flow attitude, and to be able to adjust when plans might not always go the best they can.
Her thoughts on Communicating Abroad
It was such an empowering experience to actually get through to someone who speaks an entirely different language than you, and for you actually to understand each other.
Her thoughts on The Application Process
I started almost a year in advance. By starting early, the process seemed more exciting than stressful, because you are getting ready at your own pace and building towards a remarkable trip!
Studied in Korea
University of Wisconsin: Oshkosh
His thoughts on First Impressions
The biggest surprise was how big Seoul was. Coming from a small town and being thrown into this busy, chaotic metropolis was an adventure in itself.
His thoughts on The Right Attitude
To truly understand some things you must experience them first-hand. Reading a book can only tell you so much.
His thoughts on Adaptation
I quickly found that eating out in Korea is one of the cheapest and most fun things to do. There are always places to eat and you never eat alone.
His thoughts on Adaptation
I missed having my own room. I had to get used to sharing space – but it was just another way of making friends.
Working Vacation in Tasmania
University of British Columbia
Her thoughts on Taking It All In
I made a point of getting involved in the local community. That's really the best way to have a good experience anywhere.
Her thoughts on The Right Attitude
After I landed, it took me a month to find my first retail job and three months to find my second one. Staying flexible is an important part of the job-hunting process.
Her thoughts on The Right Attitude
I attended a poetry festival, took a dance class, volunteered at the farmers’ market and got involved with the local “couch surfing” community. I built quite the network of lasting friends!
Studied in South Korea
University of Wisconsin: Oshkosh
Her thoughts on Motivation
Studying in South Korea had always been a personal goal, so when my school finally offered the program, I knew I had to sign up.
Her thoughts on The Application Process
I really wanted to make sure that the application went smoothly. I never doubted myself and I was never negative about all the work I had to put in.
Her thoughts on Pre-Departure Preparation
I took out a loan and worked a lot before I left. I made sure to save money from each paycheck to put into my Korea fund.
Worked in Switzerland
University of Waterloo
Her thoughts on The International Workplace
One of the challenges in my workplace was that my colleagues were also the people I lived with. It was challenging to have my “colleague lenses” on, rather than my “friendship lenses.”
Her thoughts on Taking It All In
I traveled to many cities -- London, Amsterdam, Berlin -- each country gave me a different perspective.
Her thoughts on Personal Growth
For me, education is a lifelong process, and this is only the beginning. I am already planning my next international exchange.
Interned in Ethiopia
UBC: Sauder School of Business
Her thoughts on Motivation
I've always wanted to go to Africa and see for myself what it’s really like there; and being a commerce student, I also find it interesting to see how different countries conduct business.
Her thoughts on Communicating Abroad
If there was a misunderstanding, we could always use our hands or try with English, but we always tried in Amharic (the local language) first!
Her thoughts on The Right Attitude
The most important thing for me was to go with an open mind, and have zero expectations. You have to adapt and things aren’t always the way you want them to be.
Taught English in Georgia
Flagler College
Her thoughts on Motivation
I wanted to teach English abroad to build my resume, travel and immerse myself in a unique culture.
Her thoughts on Taking It All In
The soccer club was a great opportunity for me to get to know my students better and help them build skills.
Her thoughts on Homestays
I developed a close relationship with my Georgian family and remain in contact with them through email and Skype.
Studied in Spain
University of Evansville
Her thoughts on The Right Attitude
Instead of looking at it as something that would take me away from the familiar, I decided to view it as an adventure that I was fortunate to experience.
Her thoughts on First Impressions
All of a sudden I wasn't having fun any more. I was awakening from the dreamy version of studying abroad, and what I saw when I finally opened my eyes was the plain truth. 
Her thoughts on The Right Attitude
My experience turned out to be a success because I made it my own, and I grew to accept the city’s flaws along with its charms.
Her thoughts on Coming Home
I was apprehensive about returning because I had learned so much and wanted others to recognize that I had changed.
Teach Abroad in Hong Kong
His thoughts on Cultural Differences
I like knowing I've lived in a place where things are done very differently, and everything still functions.
His thoughts on The International Workplace
Respect the way they run their classrooms abroad. And try to fit in.
His thoughts on Personal Growth
Simply put: When I'm teaching abroad, I feel at home.
Volunteered in Guatemala & Peru
College of Saint Elizabeth
Her thoughts on Motivation
I am originally from Guyana. Growing up in a Third World country gave me a real insight into how hard things can be. Now I want to give back as much as I can.
Her thoughts on Pre-Departure Preparation
There are no excuses! If you have a burning desire to serve, you can make it happen.
Her thoughts on Homestays
Going with my volunteer program, we stayed in a local host home and ate traditional cuisine three times a day. This approach to going abroad made me feel like I was much more a part of the culture than I would have been staying at a hotel.
Had a Working Vacation in England
University of Waterloo
Her thoughts on The Application Process
I looked into many options for finding a job abroad but the one with the best result ended up being from a personal contact I didn’t even know I had!
Her thoughts on Homestays
The people who helped me get a job offered me a room in their house. Taking them up on the offer was one of the best decisions I made! I became part of the family.
Her thoughts on The Right Attitude
Be willing to change your plans and meet new people. If you start talking to the people beside you in your hostel, chances are you will make friends for the day.
Her thoughts on Adaptation
You never quite get past the odd feeling of life happening without you at home, but you are busy building your own memories that outweigh the losses.
Her thoughts on Cultural Differences
At the end of the day, we have more in common than we think! It was fun to celebrate the similarities and recognize the differences.
Her thoughts on Coming Home
Sometimes students psych themselves up too much, anticipating a tough transition. Be flexible, patient and write down everything you remember from your trip.
Her thoughts on Pre-Departure Preparation
Plan early and be up-front about your goals with your academic advisors.
Teach Abroad in South Korea
University of Waterloo
Her thoughts on Pre-Departure Preparation
When it comes down to deciding which country and program to choose, do a ton of research and conduct informational interviews to find out what’s best for you.
Her thoughts on Personal Growth
While abroad, I realized my passion for teaching and developed a greater understanding and appreciation for every teacher around the world.
Her thoughts on Cultural Differences
You will encounter difficult situations abroad, but it's important to stay open-minded to new experiences, people, cultures and perspectives.
Her thoughts on Communicating Abroad
Remember to use body language to communicate! Smiles are universal – they work with anyone, anywhere.
Studied in the USA
Mount Royal University
Her thoughts on Boosting Your Career
My exchanges helped give me clarity on my educational path. I really believe that when I look back on my years as a student, it will be my exchanges that stand out.
Her thoughts on Personal Growth
My study abroad term resulted in a little longer in school to complete degree requirements, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Interned in Panama
Centennial College
Her thoughts on The International Workplace
Interning was much more about my personal growth as a global citizen rather than prowess with MS Office or project management tools.
Her thoughts on The Right Attitude
It's all about perspective! Adapt and just go with the flow, or risk losing your mind.
Her thoughts on The Right Attitude
Be sensitive, but don't take anything too seriously. It isn't personal, it's just the way things are.
Studied in France
Indiana University Bloomington
Her thoughts on Homestays
To stay on track and not go over the amount I had from the loan, I chose the homestay option. It allowed me to save money on food and practice more French.
Her thoughts on Homestays
I found that the homestay portion was imperative to improving my French. My host parents did not speak English, so this forced me to use my French skills.
Her thoughts on The Right Attitude
Everything is a challenge when you are somewhere new that you've never been before – but an exciting challenge!
Studied & Learned a Language in Mexico
University of British Columbia
Her thoughts on Taking It All In
Volunteering at a local primary school for blind children was a good challenge to my Spanish language skills and gave me an opportunity to step outside the upper-class world I was living in. 
Her thoughts on Language Learning
If you’re going on exchange to learn a language, make a point of speaking it from the time you arrive. If you fall into the trap of speaking English, you’ll never get comfortable in the host language.
Her thoughts on Cultural Differences
The Day of the Dead celebration made a real impact on me. It was wonderful to see people building shrines around their loved ones' graves rather than carving jack-o-lanterns to scare away spirits.
Studied in Italy
College of William and Mary
His thoughts on Motivation
I didn’t make the final decision to go until two of my friends returned from their years abroad. I couldn’t resist their stories!
His thoughts on First Impressions
At first, I was constantly excited; everything was so new and Italian. Every street was magnificent, every person European, every piece of clothing beautiful.
His thoughts on Adaptation
At some point in June, I had a moment of pristine clarity: I was no longer the naïve, awkward American boy I had been when I arrived in September.
His thoughts on Adaptation
Somehow I had integrated myself into the culture. And after months of freezing weather and many hardships, I had emerged a new person.
His thoughts on Language Learning
I studied hard. I completed a grammar workbook, I studied a dictionary and a book of verb conjugations, I listened to music, I read short novels, and I begged classmates to speak to me!
His thoughts on Coming Home
They acted as if I had never left, even though I was bursting with excitement about my year in Italy. I wanted to tell them EVERYTHING, but they couldn’t have been less interested.
Taught English in Korea
His thoughts on Pre-Departure Preparation
I suggest trying to find out the working conditions beforehand, or try contacting a friend or acquaintance that lives in the area to see what advice they have.
His thoughts on First Impressions
One of my first big surprises was the amount of hours some students are required to study. They're usually even too busy to participate in extra-curricular activities.
His thoughts on The International Workplace
The best advice for teaching cross-cultural would be the same as teaching local students: have patience.
Studied in Spain
Lebanon Valley College
Her thoughts on Homestays
What surprised me the most about my time abroad was the home-stay component. It had been the part that, at first, worried me the most, but it ended up being the most rewarding.
Her thoughts on The Right Attitude
What do you need? The three c’s: confidence, creativity, and comfy shoes!
Her thoughts on Cultural Differences
I was always greeted with friendly kisses on the cheek and hugs. This was unusual to me at first, coming from America where our typical greeting is a handshake.
Her thoughts on Coming Home
All good things must come to end, but for now I have the photos and the memories to reflect on.
Volunteered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Carleton University
His thoughts on Motivation
I wanted to further develop my skills and experiences in community development work, and to help refugee populations escape from conflict zones.
His thoughts on Adaptation
I learned very quickly that a person living in these circumstances has to be extremely flexible to deal with changing situations and different challenges whereby every day seemed fraught with another situation or event.
His thoughts on Language Learning
Language is extremely important when attempting to build a bridge across a cultural divide.
His thoughts on Cultural Differences
I found that the willingness of people to share, to work hard, and to learn as much as possible, were shared values that allowed me to partially bridge the cultural divide.
His thoughts on Coming Home
I ensured that I scheduled a few days to “decompress” in the UK before heading back home. The idea of decompressing was to get used to being back in the so-called “modern world” before having to interact with family members.
His thoughts on Coming Home
I found that I felt a profound sense of injustice, given the amount of excess wealth is available in our society. For a while I felt a certain sense of disgust and anger.
Studied in Italy
SUNY: University at Albany
Her thoughts on Communicating Abroad
The most important thing about cross-cultural communication in Italy was using hand gestures. If I didn’t know how to say a certain word, hand gestures were a universal way I could communicate!
Her thoughts on Personal Growth
I used to do everything in a hurry. Now I try to take things step-by-step and notice everything around me.
Her thoughts on First Impressions
Be prepared to arrive not knowing anything, feeling like an outsider – but leave feeling like you found a new home.
Interned in Italy
University of Wisconsin: Oshkosh
Her thoughts on Boosting Your Career
When I wanted to make a career change I looked back at what impacted me the most as an undergrad -- and that was studying abroad.
Her thoughts on Pre-Departure Preparation
I’m so glad that I started looking into it months before I had to travel, because that was an extensive process.
Her thoughts on The Application Process
There was no official application, just me taking an idea and running with it!
Her thoughts on The Right Attitude
By looking at my experiences as adventures instead of challenges, I shaped those experiences positively.
Her thoughts on Communicating Abroad
The most important thing that I learned when 2087 was to take things with a grain of salt, be flexible, and laugh at your mistakes. It’s just as hard for the people you are trying to communicate with as it is for you!
Her thoughts on The Application Process
My number one tip would be not to give up on something you really want to do! I heard a lot of “no” before I finally heard “yes”!
Worked in Vietnam
University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign
His thoughts on Boosting Your Career
Talking with other foreigners gave me insider advice on how foreign job searches are conducted.
His thoughts on The Right Attitude
Have confidence! There really is no reason to be shy with superiors or strangers.
His thoughts on Cultural Differences
In most cities in Asia, you're constantly surrounded by people, severely limiting your "me time".
His thoughts on Boosting Your Career
Network as much as you can so that when you do look for a serious job, the transition is more seamless and you know where the opportunities are.
Studied & Learned a Language in Spain
SUNY: Oneonta
Her thoughts on Pre-Departure Preparation
It’s important to prepare yourself for the shock of being in a culture that’s completely different from your own.
Her thoughts on Cultural Differences
Although Spanish culture is different from American culture, it doesn’t mean that either one is wrong or right. They are each unique.
Her thoughts on Motivation
I wasn't making as much progress in Spanish class as I thought I should have been, so the best option for me was to become fully immersed in the culture – where I’d have no choice but to communicate in Spanish!
Volunteered in Mexico
St. Ambrose University
Her thoughts on Motivation
I absolutely love helping others. I’m very involved in a variety of volunteer experiences at home and I wanted to continue with this type of work while I was abroad.
Her thoughts on Coming Home
I felt like my time abroad had gone by so fast. It was a dream that I wanted to keep dreaming.
Her thoughts on Language Learning
By putting myself out of my comfort zone I was forced to speak the language. After my experience, I feel that studying abroad is one of the very best ways to learn a language.
Her thoughts on Adaptation
I always made sure to respect the different cultural values held by the locals: eating when and what they ate, greeting the way they did, and wearing the same types of clothes.

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