Choosing international education and living away from one’s own land comes with a series of exciting and challenging times. While one’s heart brims with joy anticipating the great quality education, wonderful places to see, an impeccable work system, picturesque landscapes, there is also a genuine concern about adjusting to new place, learning to adapt to new ways, accepting people from other cultures and a general sense of anxiety about loss of feeling of belongingness and home.
Cross cultural Communication plays a significant role while studying and working as an international student. It refers to the ways in which people from different cultures and backgrounds communicate with each other and also focuses on establishing the similarities as well as dissimilarities between them. Whether you are an international student who has been studying abroad for a while or someone who aspires to go to a foreign land for further education, you must acquaint yourself with cross-cultural communication and the ways to make it effective to ensure a smooth transition from one system to another. However, the good news is that just like other skills, it can be learnt too.
In order to engage in effective Crosscultural communication, we need to be aware of the barriers that hamper it. Ethnocentrism or evaluation of other cultures according to preconceptions originating from the standards and customs of one’s own culture is the most common barrier in great cross-cultural communication. We need to learn how to avoid comparing others’ norms and culture with ours and judging someone based on how they show up as per our way of living and being. For instance, there may be significant differences in the food you eat and dresses you wear as compared to other students, say from Australia or USA. You should be self-aware and not define anyone on the basis of how they look, dress or speak. It is also good to avoid stereotyping people, when you are studying or working with a cohort that comes from varied cultures.
Sometimes, we may also face psychological barriers and not want to initiate a conversation with someone who is not like us. It is also possible that we feel imposter syndrome and believe that everyone else is better than us. During such times, we need to step up and not give in to our inner conflict/ lack of confidence and ask for whatever support we may require. Just because someone is different from you, doesn’t imply that they won’t understand or respect you.
Language barriers are very strong and may stop one from making the most of international education or cultivating great relationships at university or work. Even though you may genuinely feel a sense of lack of confidence on language front, you must remember that language is all about practice and that as long as you can put your put across, your fluency, accent or speed doesn’t really matter. Further, you can always opt for language classes and become a part of groups that would expose you to host language on day to day basis. Apart from working on these common barriers, you can also adopt some great healthy practices for effective cross-cultural communication which includes maintaining etiquette, speaking slowly, practicing active listening, writing important things, keeping it simple and clear and avoiding closed questions. With little bit of practice and some perseverance, you will be able to create long-lasting relationships with people from different cultural backgrounds and be a great communicator.