The popularity of study abroad programs increase by 12 percent each year, reports the Unesco Institute for Statistics, and it’s easy to see why. Study abroad programs offer invaluable insight and life lessons. In fact, Harvard Business school now makes it mandatory for the entire class to learn and work overseas. As more students enjoy study abroad, many of them are slapped in the face with vast cultural differences. To avoid becoming a casualty of culture shock on your trip abroad, get ready to miss…
Your Favorite Foods
Flickr photo by Chicacha
Foreign food can be tantalizing enough to warrant an entire trip, but that doesn’t mean you’ll stop craving your favorite staples. CNN reports that Americanized Mexican food, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, chilli fries, bagels, popcorn and free ketchup packets are some of the most missed foods abroad. Even when a country offers American staples like the hamburger, they just don’t quite taste the same. Foreign food day in and day out calls to mind the ole’ adage “You don’t know what you got until it’s gone.” But, it’s worth the sacrifice anyway.
Media and Entertainment
Flickr photo by Midtown Crossing at Turner Park
American media may seem like it dominates the world stage, but other countries have vastly different regulations and programming. You can’t just expect to plop down on the couch and browse DirecTV or Hulu for an afternoon. In China, the government restricts any media that promotes capitalism, and European satellite channels don’t operate on the same frequency as satellites in the U.S. Although you can hack your laptop to stream certain shows, it’s always a gamble.
Space To Move Around
Flickr image by Montgomery County Planning Commission
Americans love their space. The average American home is 2,300 square feet, while the average home in Britain is only 818 square feet. Homes in Spain, Ireland and France all average around 1,000 square feet. In Britain, the average room is only 170 square feet, leaving barely any room to fit a sofa, much less a recycling bin. In China, the average person only has 315 square feet of living space, making it almost impossible to get away from whomever you’re living with. The lack of space in foreign countries is a double edged sword, because it motivates you to get out and experience your surroundings, but can also feel claustrophobic fast.
Traffic and Driving
Flickr image by epSos.de
Think rush hour is bad? Traffic jams in China can last for days, reports CNN, and Chinese drivers often don’t follow traffic rules or stop for pedestrians. In Shanghai, the average car has to travel six to eight miles per hour because the traffic is so horrible (that’s slower than a bike). In Europe, Americans are often unaccustomed to manual transmission and a whole new world of traffic laws. Countries like Italy, France and Spain will charge you traffic fines on the spot, and countries like Russia and Slovakia have a zero tolerance policy for driving under the influence. The whole driving experience is going to be different and often frustrating, which is why you’ll probably opt to walk, and when you get back to the U.S., your car will have never looked so good.