How To Be Everyone's Favorite International Student
In previous posts we addressed mostly the practical challenges of studying abroad, this time we have something much more subtle, but just as important: the fact that you are going to be a foreigner living among people who more or less feel home at their country. We live in times when this is luckily not considered such a big deal anymore, but still, it's good to have people like you for how you behave, right? There could be an older-generation very patriotic teacher, or maybe your country is touchy about their national football team. In any case it's better to understand...
Luckily it's quite easy. As we said above, there are many people, through all generations, who do feel that their country is their home, and they value a lot of things about that. So what is it that will be good for you?
Know the national important figures, such as politicians, writers, actors, pop singers... If you want more, then architects, paintors, simply all those who helped shape the country through the centuries. Often they are of international size (Churchill, Goethe, Erasmus... it's anyway really good to know these), but sometimes they are more like "only" national figures. Just as important to know them though. Please note: we don't mean this should be a boring homework at all! We just point out it's good to have some general idea, which can be achieved by one afternoon reading.
Knowing these, and some things about the nation's history will help you look like you are interested in learning things from other people, even other nations. Without any (shown) interests like this you might look like just another kid who came for a study year and behaves like the king of the universe. Of course it's not true (well, hopefully), but that's the point - you need to use your empathy, sometimes a little bit more than one would expect - after all you are the guest in that country. By being a positive (or at least neutral) force, you will help building a favorable general impression about international students, which may help it in the future on all levels - from contributions from governments' parts to the warm welcome of local people. And you have a great opportunity to help diversity be a good thing!
Stripping labels off people, because everyone has the right to plan their own future
Use you imagination to find legal ways around legal restrictions
Studying abroad is going to be a positive experience for everyone who tries.