Allow yourself to get enveloped by the culture of the place you're staying in, but bring a little piece of yourself to it so it can truly feel like home!
When I was doing my study abroad in Germany during the summer of 2015, I didn't know a single word of German (except for hello, bathroom, and morning)! This was an especially scary thing considering I didn't know anyone in my program. I remember thinking that it's gonna be a bit scary doing this considering it was going to be the longest I was away from my family and that I didn't have a support system there. But what is life without a bit of risk? Something in my gut told me to complete this program for both academic and personal growth... and man am I happy I listened to my intuition!
Sometimes, you have to venture out of your comfort zone to truly find yourself! Through my stay in Mannheim, I was able to see a whole new side of myself... one that was daring, confident, independent and most of all, care-free! I got to meet so many incredible people from across the globe and the friendships I made during my time there are unforgettable. Never did my eighteen-year-old self imagine going into a big ole city by myself and finding local spots that I would call my own. By meeting so many people, I began to learn about their culture and in turn, they were learning about my culture (New Yawk culture that is). Together, we were immersed in the German culture of Bavaria and were navigating the scene together. I still talk to the friends that I made there to this day! We all talk about reuniting in some place in the US since they have never been here before! I remember one day when we all had a potluck and had to bring in comfort foods and I brought in grilled cheese. Yes, you read me right... grilled cheese! Other people were bringing in food from Bulgaria, Mexico, Turkey and here I am bringing grilled cheeses. And they LOVED them (I mean who can blame them). Someone had asked me for the recipe and I was dumbfounded. By bringing in a little piece of home into this new city, I was able to feel at ease and excited to become more immersed in their culture. The world is just a big melting pot and it's so important to learn about others around you and to keep that open mind. So be a risk-taker and fully give yourself to your experiences abroad!