Culture is one of the six Causes of ESN. There are hundreds of events focused on culture organised every year by the sections all across Europe. The promotion of intercultural dialogue and understanding is at the core of ESN’s mission.

ESN brings together many young people from around the world, this initiates intercultural dialogue and understanding. Moreover, young people can adopt the customs and traits of each culture they face when meeting new people. When you adopt the best traits, it grows your personality and this is also a reason why an exchange can change you so much. 

Many of ESN’s events are closely connected to culture. These events may be country presentations when international students present their home country to others. Language exchanges are also popular, in these initiatives the international students teach interested international and local students their native or any other language they are good at. ESN also organizes many trips to smaller local cities and towns, which are not on the first page of tourist guides, trips to cultural heritage sites such as castles and chateaus or natural sites like caves, mountains, lakes and many more. The international student of today is a tourist of tomorrow. They become guides for their friends visiting them, and also ambassadors of their new home country once their exchange is over. They are willing to recommend a visit in their exchange destination, thus actively promote tourism in the respective area. 

Cultural iceberg is a visual representation of what people usually imagine when one says: culture. Most people usually think just about the tip of an iceberg. But as we can see, there is much more hidden in the deeper levels. And these are the cultural traits you should pay attention to in order to really understand a foreign culture. You may learn these the best by simply living daily life in a different country but not forgetting about the interaction with the local communities. Try to focus on the smaller details of how people behave. Are the stereotypical jokes based on the truth? Do you feel uncomfortable, because someone stands too close to you while talking? Or are they too far away so you nearly can't hear them? Are the elderly treated with respect? Is complaining about a daily talk list? You can decide and make your best opinion. 

When you notice the smaller things, you can really understand the culture. Try to use your time during the exchange to submerge under the water level, and explore these parts of the cultural iceberg. You may experience a culture shock. It occurs when you are exposed to a new culture and experience something unexpected or unfamiliar. The word “shock” implies something bad, however, you can be culturally shocked also in a good way. For example when you were expecting the locals to be cold and reserved, but it turns out they are very familiar and welcoming. 

Culture is an essential part of your exchange. You are facing it in your daily life, in your daily talks with friends without even realizing it. Keep your eyes open, look for the details, try to get to know the people. Remember, as everybody is different with different cultural backgrounds and values, treat everybody with respect. Show respect also to their culture, show your respect also when you disagree with others. Be a kind person, it’s not that hard.