How to make the most of your youth to acquire intercultural skills?

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Whatever career path one chooses, intercultural skills are likely to be needed to enhance job prospects, and employee’s success in nowadays’ globalised workplace. There is a lot of circumstantial opportunities to benefit from during one’s youth, and it is also crucial to have the right attitudes to develop intercultural skills.

 

Indeed, the following 3 types of attitudes will help you get a great start to your career/further studies/ life in general:

◦          Observation: Exploration. It is an important skill to have and develop, and an important mean for cultural data collection. Be aware of what’s happening around you, observe, think, analyse and whilst it’s important to be mindful when drawing conclusions, such observations can be rich in knowledge and information!

◦          Self-reflection: Serious thought about one’s character and actions. It’s being aware of what we do, comparing it with what others do, and understanding why we do it. It is also the basis for another attitude to have; the willingness to challenge yourself, get out of your comfort zone.

◦          Curiosity. Really, listen! Enquire, do not hesitate to ask questions. My personal advice is: become a cultural opportunist! Try and seize every opportunity to witness cultural rituals and events, share with others around you, be in a different environment…

 

These attitudes are going to be useful in every aspect of your lives, but there are times where youth specifically can try and practice demonstrating them, in order to slowly gain intercultural awareness and skills. Here is a list of three things you should make the most of during your youth:

         Free time

Indeed, school holidays, weekends, and light timetables will allow students to have fun and develop a lot of skills/discover more about themselves and others. A few things to explore are… Volunteering? Internships? Having a hobby? Learn, observe, get out there! Those are great opportunities to demonstrate the attitudes mentioned above…

◦          Friendships

It is well known that friendships flourish and can be more intense during the college/university years. It is important to try and, on one hand, reflect on our existing friendships and friendly interactions, and on another hand, try and getting out of our comfort zone in these relationships. Indeed, friendships can constitute great opportunity for interacting with other cultures! Make the most of the different people you meet during your course or free time’s activities, be intentional about it and remember to observe.

◦          Travel

Whether it be studies away from home (another city, another country?), or just travelling for holidays. Explore rural areas, stop at street stalls, use public transportation, get lost in streets… Be mindful of cultural differences you can observe! It is scientifically proven that new sights, new smells, atmospheres, can boost the part of our brain in charge of creativity. Challenging yourself every time you get the chance is definitely the way to go when it comes to travelling.

 

For those who are at a different stage of their lives, with different priorities, I would say that all the above still applies with of course different circumstantial opportunities. It is also highly beneficial to reflect on our past, why not try blogging or journaling to share our experiences and conclusions? The mindset to adopt in order to acquire the skills discussed in this article is the same – whatever life period one is currently in.

 

Being mindful of our behaviour, reflecting, and constantly trying to improve ourselves is the key to achieving our goals.

Rama Saidani

Intern at EIFID