1. Always ask questions.

Past experiences and environments can shape ideas, beliefs, and opinions. Because of this, I found that it is important to refrain from confrontation and instead open the space to have an open dialogue about where the ideas we have come from. Studying at an American university brings together a diverse group of students and having open conversations about hard things can be such an enriching experience.

2. Communicate clearly.

Communication abroad has been difficult for me. How exactly do you stand up to speak out across a language barrier? In the case with my friend, we spoke the same language and therefore clear communication was easy, leaving little to be inferred and misinterpreted. I found staying away from assumptions and being aware of my own tone helps with communicating. Even with good intentions, it’s always important to be mindful and considerate of the impact of words against and across the language barrier.

3. Let go, when/if it’s time to let go.

The air was a little heavy after my friend started the conversation but it simmered shortly after. We were sure to move on from it in the moment. Since then, we’ve talked about the situation, but I know moving on in the moment, given the circumstances, helped keep the tensions low while still holding everyone accountable.

These are just a few things I’ve learned so far when approaching difficult situations and conversations. Of course, this minor list doesn’t capture a full picture; however, I found myself taking these insightful observations from the situation with my friend–a friend I’m lucky to call mine.