4 Ways to Have a Cultural Semester
by Kate Avino
Whether you’re a college student or not, finding ways to incorporate new cultures into your daily agenda can be tricky. However, balancing schoolwork, social outings, internships, and more, can make cultural experiences all the more difficult to come by. January is the perfect time to gear up to learn about the world around you. Follow this handy guide to make sure you’re getting the most of a globally-oriented semester, no matter where you are or how much is in your budget.
A Google search bar is a gateway to learning about new cultures, countries, languages, and more. It is easy to use and ~free.~ Not only will your wallet thank you, but your brain will too. Explore new lands using Google Earth, or sense some tasty cuisine by finding the greatest authentic Italian pizza recipe out there. Spend an hour or two each week letting Google take you near and far, here and there, around the globe or in the town next to you.
Visit a Cultural Club
Large universities and small liberal-arts colleges alike often have diverse clubs and organizations for students to join. These clubs encourage students of all ethnicities and backgrounds to attend meetings in order to garner the best cultural experience.
New York University sophomore Sophie Ding attested to the school’s club diversity, saying: “There's definitely more than enough cultural clubs at NYU. They go beyond the standard (country) students association and (race) students union. There's a journal of human rights, clubs focused on relationships between countries, and arts clubs about an art form of a specific culture, like the Korean drumming club or anime club.”
An easy search on your college’s website can give you the description and meeting time information for all available clubs. Take advantage of these as much as you can - you can even visit multiple ones in a week, if you have time!
Have a Dorm/Apartment/Community Potluck
Potlucks with your friends can be awesome, but potlucks with your dorm-mates or neighbors can be just as fun! A diverse living space lends the opportunity to experience culture in Her Culture staff’s personal favorite way - food! With permission of the space’s administrators, of course, draw up flyers or invitations to place under doors. Set a budget limit for each guest (we suggest a $30 maximum) and make cute DIY cultural decorations. Encourage your guests to bring a dish related to their culture or ethnicity - and just watch how much you can learn through these yummies!
Learn a Language - for free!
Travelling to a new country can seem like a daunting task, especially if you do not know the language there. However, it is very easy to pick up on conversational basics with a few weeks of practice. Online sites like Duolingo provide free language lessons for beginner and advanced speakers alike. Also, some universities offer free after-hours language programs that can help you catch a bus in Japanese or order off a French menu. NYU, for example, offers a “Speaking Freely” program to its students at its Washington Square campus in NYC. Check out your school’s website to see if it offers a similar program, or look online for other free opportunities.
Kate Avino is the Founder and CEO of Her Culture. She attends New York University as an honors Media, Culture, and Communications student. While she's not busy answering emails, you can find her in a coffee shop reading Jane Austen or making to-do lists.