This contains some of the best ideas we have for dealing with cultural differences. It’s essential reading!
Top Ten Tips for Successful Intercultural Adjustment
Both host families & guests can use these tips for a successful homestay experience in San Francisco, & when visiting other places in the world, all these ideas will still apply.
We want everyone to have a great experience whether a visitor or a host!
The ability to keep one’s responses flexible & receptive to new experiences is critical to good homestay relationships. We demonstrate this through our willingness to try to understand & appreciate the values & beliefs of others. We accept that a different point of view than our own is equally valid. We do not expect others to adopt our beliefs & values.
Sense of Humor
A sense of humor is important in alleviating difficulties. We can expect that not all the same things from one culture will cause similar reactions in another. But if we can try to laugh these situations off and not take one self or a situation too seriously, that will go a long way toward creating a healthy & happy homestay experience.
Willingness to Communicate
Many situations can be confusing or ambiguous in another country. We each need to be able to express our own thoughts & feelings, and we need to be willing to ask for help in interpreting unfamiliar behaviors & subtle cultural cues.
Flexibility and Adaptability
The ability to respond to or to tolerate the ambiguity of new situations is a critical factor for cross-cultural adjustment. This may mean having to alter and/or give up familiar behavioral patterns, & become familiar with or take on new behaviors and habits, which can be a challenge for our guests who might not have been prepared for some things.
Positive and Realistic Expectations
It is well known that students choose to spend time overseas for a variety of reasons. Some are expressed and some are private. It is important to notice how realistically the student understands that this experience will be difficult, but worth the reward if they persevere.
Curiosity is the demonstrated desire to know about other people, places, ideas etc. This may be a trait for some and can be developed as a skill by anyone who is willing. Since we are all likely to encounter significant differences in culture & unexpected experiences, it’s just good to ask questions first before we develop opinions. Often the differences can be easily understood if we first ask questions.
Tolerance for Differences
We each need to be able to tolerate people who have different values, beliefs, & practices. Tolerance implies an inner strength that allows us to learn from one another and continue to feel safe & secure within one’s self in the midst of others who may feel, look & act in ways very different from those that we are accustomed to encountering.
A Strong Sense of Self
A clear, secure feeling about oneself is usually present in individuals who are neither weak nor overbearing in their relationships with others. Persons with this strong, secure sense of themselves stand up for what they believe but do not cling to those beliefs in the face of new information or perspectives.
Ability to Cope with Failure
The ability to tolerate failure is critical because everyone fails at something overseas. People who go overseas are often those who have been successful in their home environments and thus may have rarely experienced failure. Experience with failure is important in developing a full range of coping behaviors. Trying to do things in another country, and in a new language give new opportunities to fail.
Positive Regard for Others
Having a positive regard for others is probably the single, most important factor in a successful inter-cultural experience. The ability to express warmth, empathy, respect and regard for other people goes the furthest in creating a happy and memorable stay. Having the ability to ‘feel’ a situation from the point of view of others without judging or reacting negatively is a powerful skill and a gift to all around you. People are also more effective when they are able to communicate this regard, particularly when a situation might be uncomfortable. This is the single behavior that goes the distance when we need to work out our differences and find some harmony.