You're in a new country, with a brand new culture, group of people, and way of life. What are you doing? How are you acting?
Cultural sensitivity is being aware that differences and similarities exist among cultures and people, without assigning them a value - better or less, right or wrong. The act of cultural sensitivity allows you to learn about and understand people whose cultural background differs from yours.
Cultural sensitivity is a highly important trait to uphold in your day to day life, but it is especially important for those of you who are studying abroad.
It is easy to become stuck in the bubble that is the United States, but don't let this limit your mind to thinking one type of culture is more superior than the other. My biggest pet peeve is when people venture abroad, to only seek the comfortability of food and culture they had back home.
It is OK to miss people and certain types of food, but once your entire experience begins to revolve around nitpicking differences between cultures; that is where you begin to let the entire experience run past you.
You are choosing to study abroad to immerse yourself in a brand new culture of people. Differing values, political views, food, and ways of dress exist. It is important to familiarize yourself with such differences before you embark on your journey. Once you are there, soak in every opportunity to have fun, but remember you are a guest of whatever country in which you are studying.
To be closed minded to the disparities between values and acceptable attitudes in different regions is staying ignorant.
Do not sneer at someone else’s food. It may seem odd and outlandish to you, but it is very normal to the people there. Remember your manners. If you don’t try you will never know.
Be aware of your actions in public. You are representing your school and the entire country in which you are from. Your ignorance towards your surroundings may make you a target for pick-pocketers.
To be actively cautious of the different lives people live, and the different traits they view as rude is difficult, but to not even try to learn and embrace the culture of people you are living with is obscene.
With the world becoming more intertwined than ever before, we as a growing generation must educate ourselves on the various forms of life and culture of people around the world. Once we begin to learn to accept differences and find similarities within common humanity, we will be growing a more sensible generation.