It's back to school time. I'm planning my two fall marketing classes for Baruch College's global students who will be arriving in a few weeks. They will bring so much to my life and as i look across to the empty chairs as I write, I imagine who these adventurous souls are and what their stories will be. I can't wait to meet them. In the past, I've made rich connections with my global students from every corner of the world. Many of them sat in these chairs on this very Terrace of my mid-town office. It's true that I learn from them as I teach these global students. I keep Aristotle's words in mind as I do, " Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all."
If you are engaging in this sort of adventure, you are consulting blogs for information about your study abroad, what the logistics are, what to pack, how to manage your new surroundings, how to practice your host country's language, how to safeguard yourself, and keep feelings of homesickness at bay. You are trying to prepare to be educated in a new language, to ready yourself for a different culture of learning. All of these things are so important to your study abroad experience. But, listen to the wise words of Aristotle, you must educate your heart as well. That comes from within. There may be instructors like me, who will make learning work for the mind and heart. But should you not find that person, that mentor, take it upon yourself to educate your heart in the culture of your new surroundings.
Here's Three Simple Ways:
1. Before leaving, get out on a comfortable social media platform and start to explore people who have like interests. I had one student who brought his saxophone along...before he came, he found an instructor who introduced him to a new music community that welcomed him. Educate your heart!
2. In your first days, locate the gatherings where fellow student visit. Not big spaces, smaller less intimidating spaces. Wear your school t shirt. Show you are with the tribe. Bring a map as well as your laptop. Find a safe person to sit near and break out the map and websites, then turn to ask the person...can you suggest the best place for me to see an indie movie, find a cool bookstore, or a specialty food place? Use any item of interest in your host city based upon your passion. Tell your story of your interest to your chat partner. Small talk can bring you safely to your environment with new connections. Educate your heart!
3. Look for a place to volunteer in your host city. Many places have need for people like you who can bring the world to those who are sick, or old, or young and cannot travel. Share your story and do good in the world. Educate your heart!
These experiences will help you to form a lasting bond through unique heartfelt moments in your host country. Take it on yourself! You are already on a journey so you are brave. Don't hide in your host country as you educate yourself...educate your heart as well!