With nearly 100 countries represented on our campuses, Valencia welcomes students from all over the world. We value cultural differences and encourage students to learn about and accept people from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds. From music and dance performances to film festivals, food samplings and guest speakers, Valencia regularly holds a variety of cultural events on its campuses. Orlando itself is also a diverse community, where you’re likely to find people from your home country as well as connect with people from different cultures.
CULTURAL GROUPS IN ORLANDO
Orlando is an international city with residents and visitors from all over the world. Here, you’ll find British pubs, Brazilian markets, Caribbean bakeries, Hispanic businesses and Asian restaurants (just to name a few) all within a couple of miles of each other. In addition to exploring different cultures while in Orlando, you should try to connect with people from your own culture—this can help you make friends and ease the adjustment of living in a new country.
Ways to Connect with Your Culture in Orlando
- Join a Valencia student club.
- Find a local restaurant specializing in cuisine from your country.
- Search online for meet up groups.
- Reach out to an Orlando-based multicultural organization.
- Attend a church, mosque, synagogue or other place of worship that aligns with your faith.
TIPS ON AMERICAN CULTURE
Many people already have some familiarity with American culture before coming here. Of course, life in the U.S. isn’t exactly as it’s portrayed in movies or on television. Below are some tips on things you can expect about American culture.
Be on time.
Timeliness is very important and is considered a sign of respect. You should plan to arrive a few minutes early before any scheduled class, event or appointment.
Communication is important.
Communication is both verbal and non-verbal. Americans prefer directness and eye contact which is a sign of respect and shows interest.
Extend the same courtesies to all people, regardless of age, race, gender, ethnicity, national origin, religious preference or sexual orientation.
Interact with others.
In social settings people interact informally. People of the same age usually refer to each other in a familiar manner, even when first meeting. Formal titles are reserved for speaking with persons in authority, instructors and in office or business interactions. Another tip when interacting with Americans is to appreciate other’s personal space.
Dealing With Culture Shock
A certain amount of culture shock is expected when studying abroad. It can be hard to adjust to a new culture and setting. However, if you are feeling especially withdrawn, lonely or depressed, assistance is available. You should speak with your advisor or, if you wish to have an anonymous conversation, you may take advantage of the BayCare Life Management’s Student Assistance Program (SAP) available to all Valencia students. BayCare Counselors are available 24/7 via phone. BayCare’s direct contact information can be found on the back of your Valencia Student Identification Card. BayCare’s website is baycare.org/sap and the phone number is (800) 878–5470.
Student Clubs and Organizations
Joining a student club or organization is a great way to meet people and make new friends from various cultural backgrounds. There are dozens of student clubs and organizations, including many with an international perspective.
Valencia promotes cross-cultural awareness and appreciation on its campuses with events such as International Education Week, Peace Week and cultural workshops and performances.