Published on June 29, 2015

Tips to make your intern abroad experience more authentic

1) Eat at little hole in the wall restaurants

Food is a central part of any culture. A great way to get to know what dishes bring locals together is to go to smaller, popular restaurants with perhaps a more humble appearance. You might even ask a local what their favorite restaurant is for authentic local plates. These restaurants may be less welcoming to tourists, but that's because they aren't for tourists. The food will be more authentic, less expensive and likely more delicious.

 

living abroad experience

 

2) Buy produce at the local farmers' market instead of the grocery store

Getting to know your city's local farmers' market will give you the chance to see which produce actually grows locally and then buy it. You'll also have the opportunity to interact with local producers instead of supermarket employees who have less of a connection with the society's food culture.

 

3) Play a local sport

Whether through pick-up games or organized athletics, playing a local sport is a great way to meet and interact with locals. Sports can join together many people with different backgrounds for a common goal. You could even convince your intern friends to take some sort of dance or exercise class with you at a local studio or gym.

 

living abroad experience

 

4) Learn the language

Speaking the local language is the best way to connect to the people in a foreign country. Depending on English will put limitations on the type of person you can meet in a foreign country. A good way to practice language skills is asking your intern friends to speak only in the local language when you guys go out.

 

5) Take a cooking class

Considering food's importance to culture, a cooking class is an excellent way to connect to your abroad country. Plus once you learn how to cook a local dish, you'll be able to recreate it for your friends and family back home. The abroad experience will live on through your cooking!

 

6) Go to screenings of local films

Local universities and museums often have free screenings of local films at their institutions. Bring some of your intern abroad friends to a screening and try to strike up a conversation when the movie is over with some other audience members. Not only will the movie lend some insight into the local culture, but so will the conversations you have with the screening attendees.

 

living abroad experience

 

7) Join a local organization or club

If you have a certain hobby or passion, why not take it with you abroad? You'll be able to share your interests with locals and learn a little about how clubs and organizations work in a different country.

 

8) Volunteer

If you have time while doing your internship abroad, a great way to meet locals and contribute to local society is to volunteer. You'll be helping others while also learning about social issues in the country. Volunteering is also an excellent way to meet charitable people from a variety of backgrounds.

 

 

Photo 1. based on Chiu Fat restaurant Kwloon Hong Kong, by Adam Singer, CC-by-2.0

Photo 2. based on Colombia: Pick-Up Soccer in Puerto Nariño, by Eli Duke, CC-by-2.0

Photo 3. based on Celebrity Shorts 1 Screening 12, by Canadian Film Centre, CC-by-2.0

The author
Elizabeth Trovall
After short stints in Argentina and Belize, Elizabeth is finishing up her third year in Santiago, Chile. Elizabeth writes about international internships, life abroad and professional development for The Intern Group. She also reports on politics, business and culture in Latin America for public radio and print media. An Austin, Texas native, Elizabeth first left home to earn her journalism degree from the Reynolds Institute of Journalism at the University of Missouri. Besides her friends and family, she misses live music and Mexican food the most.

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