Learning: From Culture Shock and Back Again
I have heard of the term homesick many times, but as I have come back from my semester abroad I am experiencing something that I am not quite sure if there is a term for, but I would describe it as 'exchange-semester sick.'
Going to Germany was really challenging at first. The language gap was difficult. I definitely experienced cultural shocks;
"Why are people not so nice?"
"Why is my pillow squared?"
"Wait, you only take cash?"
"Entschuldigung, sprichst du Englisch?"
... me: "Enough sausages!!!"
However, as the days went by I met more and more people from literally all over the world who were in the exact same spot as me. That's when I knew I was in the right place. I began to embrace the German culture. I enrolled in a German language course, and became highly interested in it. I learned to be punctual, and direct when speaking to people.
While in Germany, I also learned valuable lessons from other exchange students:
From the Spanish students, I learned the importance of having fun in every situation. The Italians from Bocconi University taught me the importance of working hard to excel in school. The Brazilians taught me how to be kind and always think positive. The Americans made me realize how closely related our cultures are compared to the rest of the world.
Coming back to VIU, I am interested in completing the Global Citizens Network Stipend Program, first of all, because going abroad is not cheap so of course the award would be nice, but most importantly, because I am excited to get the opportunity to attend events that will make me feel the same way I felt when I arrived to Germany. I want to explore the world through people; to see the world through other people's eyes. I am particularly interested in volunteering with the English Language Centre's Learning Centre to help new students as they develop their English skills in Canada, and in exploring the cultural diversity we have on campus by attending the Cultural Couch series on Tuesday evenings in the International Building!
• Stephanie Aldana Jaled
VIU Bachelor of Business Administration Student & Exchange Program Alumni