Tips for Successful Intercultural Exchange

Pals at a Conversation Meetup

The goal of your conversation meetup is to exchange language and culture in a relaxed, safe, and productive manner. Follow the tips below to make the most of your Pal time.

Conversation Starters

Food

This is a topic that never fails to start a lively discussion! Ask your partner what, when, how, and why they eat what they eat. Compare and contrast your experiences.

Home Remedies

There are loads of weird and wonderful home remedies in every culture (whether or not they actually work!) which can be fun to talk about. Some might be personal to your family whereas others might be more widely used, such as lemon and honey for a sore throat.

Body Language

Even though verbal language is your main focus, it’s surprising how important – and often culturally specific – body language can be in learning to fit into another culture. 

Slang and Idioms

These are sometimes interchangeable but essentially, slang is informal language that tends to be used in speech rather than writing, and between people who are familiar with each other and share similar interests. Some slang is inappropriate in the Pal context, but there is plenty of slang that is used every day that would be useful for a non-native English speaker to know, simply in order to understand what someone is saying.

Safety

As always, we encourage you to be safe and careful when meeting with your PAL partners. Follow the tips below:

  • Meet your partner in public places. Do not meet at your home or in isolated areas.
  • Do not consume drugs or alcohol when spending time with people you don't know well.
  • Because your partner may have a different first language and culture, it’s important to make sure you are both completely comfortable with any plans made.
  • Avoid driving or traveling too far away from campus.

Logistics

Choose meeting places that are easily accessible for both partners. Here are some suggestions:

  • Pal game nights or other Pal events
  • Coffee shops/cafes on campus or downtown
  • The Community Center, the ARC, Memorial Union, etc.
  • Public events happening on campus or in town
  • Parks or other comfortable outdoor areas on campus

Supplemental content

Pal Meetup Ideas

While meeting for coffee is always a great option, we also recommend getting out and experiencing life at UCD with your partner. Here are some ideas:

Find more ideas on the UCD Academic & Events Calendar