Most students who study internationally will experience some form of culture shock at some point in time during their time abroad. The new surroundings, new cultures, new people, new food, and most probably a new language are all things you will need to adjust to. While some students will not have any problems, or will only experience mild cases of culture shock, a vast majority will go through a whole range of emotions that if left untreated, or if you do not talk to others about it could become an even bigger problem for you.
So what exactly is culture shock? Essentially culture shock is your adjustment to your new surroundings and new way of doing things. For example, you may find that things are done a certain way back in your home country – however in your adopted host country that same thing is done totally different. While not that bad just in itself, when you couple all the changes you are experiencing, they can add up and lead to things like depression, sadness, etc…
Most people agree there are a few phases of culture shock that people go through. The first phase is “Excitement” as you arrive in your new country, you are excited about all the new things you are going to experience. This elation keeps you going for a week or maybe longer as you are still learning all about your new surroundings. The next stage is “Frustration” as you slowly learn about your new surroundings, you start to find how things differ to your home country and in some cases how things are not done as well. This stage is probably one of the most important stages, as you need to talk to your friends, your school and your family about how you are feeling and what you are experiencing. Talking is vital as it will help you understand more about how things are done and operate. It is also a really good idea to try and make friends with students who are native to your host country – they will help you understand and adjust much quicker than grouping together with fellow international students.
Once you have begun to understand your host country and new surroundings, you can begin the process of acclimatizing. There is no hard and fast rule about how long this will take, for some it can happen right away – for others it can taken weeks or even months to fully acclimatize to your new world around you.
With any new experience, it is very important that you talk to your friends and family on a more regular basis – and be open an honest about things to your school. They will help guide you and provide assistance to the best of their abilities. Do not be worried about the transition periods, we have all been there and all at some point experienced culture shock in one way or another.
We have some excellent videos online, and further information about culture shock which will help you if you need more information. If you can spend 10 minutes to watch the videos, they are highly recommended!
Also – let us know if you experienced culture shock and how you dealt with it…..