On Study Abroad you’re surrounded by new and different people and perspectives. It’s normal to want to compare everything you’re experiencing abroad to your life back home.
On the surface there is no problem in comparing, in fact it’s an essential part of your personal growth. The problem arises when you get stuck in that state and it turns into judgment or defending one view or way of being instead of remaining open and curious.
Rather than simply dismiss things as “weird” or “wrong” on Study Abroad, try to create more understanding by using empathy. According to Sam Richards “It all begins with empathy. Take yourself out of your shoes, put yourself in the shoes of another person.” He shared this during a TED Talk that I featured in my Top 10 TED Talks For Study Abroad Students.
Using empathy requires going beyond surface level comparisons and uncovering new ways of looking at the same thing. This is how you begin to develop true intercultural competence. So try it out the next time you catch yourself going down the path of comparison and judgment.
How will you make empathy a part of Study Abroad?