Your study abroad experience does not have to end on the plane ride home. Imani Wilson returned home from studying abroad in Shanghai a year ago, and she's sharing how continues keeping up with Chinese culture and current events and practicing the language. Find out some of her tips to help you continue your own study abroad experience!
After getting acclimated at home coming back from your study abroad experience, you might find yourself missing certain moments you had abroad. You might want to or need to continue learning the language or the culture in some way shape or form, whether it is for work or just because you miss studying abroad and don’t want to lose all the knowledge you gained. In this case, you may need to practice a little more. Well, I have great news for you. You can always continue your study abroad experience even at home. There are some things you can do at home to continue the language or even learn more about the culture. Especially since we are in the United States. In such a diverse place, we are able to learn about so many different cultures and learn a lot of languages through experience alone. Here are a few things that can help you continue your study abroad experience:
1) Stay in touch with friends from the host country
Imani and friends at the Bund in Shanghai.
When I started to miss living in Shanghai (which wasn’t very long after coming home), I would stay in contact with my friends there. We would text each other using WeChat. It was certainly difficult to stay in contact because of the time difference, but I would say it is worth it. This way I know what is going on in China. I can also get to know what my friends are doing and if there any time we can see each other again.
2) Take a community college language class or find another program that teaches the language
If you are specifically worried about losing the language, there are many programs at community colleges and other universities that provide a language learning experience. Look up some events or conferences for intercultural communication. There are embassy events in Washington D.C. you can attend if you live in the area, OR find an embassy or consulate near you and see if there are any events you can go to.
3) Go to organizations where there are people that speak the language
Because we live in the United States there are so many diverse areas. There could possibly be a senior/wellness center or a school where you can volunteer that is for the specific language. Because I live near Washington DC, I am able to volunteer at senior/wellness centers that are specifically for native Spanish speakers and people that speak Mandarin and Cantonese fluently. Fortunately, I am able to continue my language learning. I would encourage you to go out in your community and find something similar. A place where you can learn the language and be surrounded by the culture and share your experiences abroad as well. Through this experience I was able to make a friend that I can speak to and still learn from.
4) Become a CAPA Ambassador
Tabling for CAPA.
Becoming a CAPA Ambassador really helped me reflect and review my experience abroad. As I am reflecting, I am still learning new things about the current events and the history of my host country. Also, encouraging others to study abroad helps me relive the exciting moments of deciding to study abroad. Most importantly, it helped me continue to have that fearless mindset to talk to others in different languages. The experience has been great.
Challenge: Become a tour guide. Go to a historical landmark in your hometown and describe it in a different language. Make sure you describe its history and don’t forget the details!
Follow Imani's journey on CAPA World.