As many of our members are about to embark on work or study abroad programs, we wanted to give you some advice with the help of those who have already experienced it.
Introducing our interns, Mehr and Katherine, who joined Team Tandem as part of their work abroad program. Here’s what they have to say about their experience of moving to a new country!
Mehr recommends preparing for your work or study abroad program in advance. “Particularly for shorter exchange programs, you want to make the most of the experience. Take some time to research the best places to visit and what events are taking place while you are there.” Katherine suggests checking the weather too, “the summer weather in Berlin took a while to get used to. It is really hot during the day, but as soon as the sun goes down the temperature drops! Be travel savvy and pack appropriate clothes for your stay.”
Study or work abroad programs are the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture. They are also a chance to learn a new language – Tandem’s favorite activity!
Mehr and Katherine did not speak any German before they moved to Berlin but have enrolled in a language class to learn the basics. “German isn’t the easiest of languages, but I recognize many words now and can order a meal in a restaurant!” says Mehr. If you can’t speak the native language of the country you are traveling to, ask your Tandem partner to teach you the phrases that will be most useful. With a Tandem Pro subscription, you can also discover other members near you and find a native speaker for face-to-face tandems once you arrive.
Every culture is unique, and learning about a new culture is one of the most rewarding aspects of a work or study abroad program. It may take some time to get used to cultural differences, whether that be greetings, day-to-day activities, cultural traditions or the local cuisine. Take your time and embrace them! You might be surprised at what you learn. Katherine has really enjoyed trying the food in Berlin, but it was not easy at first. “German food has a really strong taste, some things are too sweet, while others are too salty. I really immersed myself in the local food culture, but had to remember to drink lots of water!”
One of Mehr’s biggest highlights has been traveling to different places in her free time. “I love exploring new cities and took advantage of living Berlin – the heart of Europe! Over the 3 months, I managed to visit Prague, Budapest, Paris, and Krakow.” If you want Tandem’s advice, we say take the plunge, find a travel buddy at your host institution or company and make some great memories.
So what is Mehr and Katherine’s best piece of advice? “Don’t be shy and ask a local if you are confused! They are always really friendly and willing to give tourists a helping hand!” We agree, if you are trying to locate that famous restaurant, simply ask for help! It is also a great way to learn some new vocabulary.