Living as an international student abroad exposes us to diverse cultures, customs, and perspectives. However, encountering narrow-mindedness can hinder personal growth and hinder our ability to lead successful lives. To avoid falling into the trap of closed-mindedness, let’s explore some practical ways to embrace open-mindedness during our study abroad journey.
- Adopting Benjamin Franklin’s Approach: Benjamin Franklin’s diplomatic wisdom can guide us in fostering open conversations. Instead of forcefully asserting our beliefs, let’s begin discussions with phrases like “I may be wrong, but…” This approach puts others at ease and encourages them to share their views openly.
- Embrace Travel for New Experiences: Traveling exposes us to different ways of living, making us more receptive to new ideas. Engage in meaningful travel experiences, where you meet people from diverse backgrounds and embrace the unfamiliar. Solo travel can also be enriching, allowing you to interact with strangers and learn about their cultures.
- Expand Your Reading Horizons: Books offer another way to broaden our perspectives. Beyond our coursework, indulge in reading both fiction and non-fiction written by subject experts. If you’re learning the local language, read books and magazines in that language to further immerse yourself in the culture.
- Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness allows us to be fully present and aware of our thoughts. Through mindfulness, we can let go of preconceived notions that may hinder our open-mindedness. Embrace the present without any fixed objectives, allowing curiosity and openness to flourish.
- Step Out of Your Comfort Zone: Comfort zones can limit our exposure to the diversity around us. Push yourself to experience new things, such as attending different music concerts, trying unique cuisines, or engaging with students from other departments. This exposure helps develop flexibility and understanding.
- Cultivate Diverse Friendships: Expand your circle of friends to include individuals with diverse backgrounds, political views, and ages. Interacting with people who have different perspectives helps challenge our own biases and encourages open-mindedness.
As international students, embracing open-mindedness is essential for personal growth and successful experiences abroad. By adopting a humble and open approach to discussions, engaging in meaningful travel and reading, practicing mindfulness, stepping out of our comfort zones, and cultivating diverse friendships, we can foster an enriching and rewarding student life abroad. Embrace the wonders of diversity, and you’ll find yourself growing as an individual throughout your academic journey and beyond.