Countering Culture Shock – Tips for International Students
In a previous blog, we discussed the five stages of culture shock. So, how do you prepare for culture shock, at least to minimize the negative effects of it so that you can function and enjoy your time in another country.
How to counter the effects of culture shock –
- Read up about the country you are going to. Do some research about the city in which you will be living. You have chosen this city for a reason -or several – and this is a positive start. However, expect differences,and be aware that culture shock is a reality. This will help you develop more realistic expectations and will involve you even more in the business at hand – which is to speak a living language and experience a culture that is not your own.
- Make sure you have anticipated and met those basic needs of living comfortably and securely. Choose a safe environment to live in (your English Language school usually advises and assists with this) , ensure your budget is under control, bring health or medical items you may need, emergency contact details and other things you consider necessities of life, whether it is a bunch of photographs of family, friends, pets and familiar places.
- Keep in touch with home by using apps such as Viber, Facebook, Skype, email, whatever is out there, and there is a lot! Do some blogging so that your family can have a sense of your experiences and feelings.
- If you are really homesick pay a visit to a restaurant that serves food from home. But don’t look too much to your native speaking communities – try to avoid that temptation. In the short term this is hard, but your integration into the host community will be much faster if you avoid this ‘comfort zone.’
- Become active in something whether it is yoga, chess, running or going to the movies . Join a club so that you can meet local people in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. Take advantage of volunteering opportunities. Get involved. Put yourself in situations that are unique to that culture. You’re experiencing what other countries have to offer, which is what studying abroad is all about.
Now, you should be more equipped to counter culture shock if it happens, and your adjustment and integration should be easier to cope with. One cannot predict the severity of culture shock. A lot of factors are involved. But at least you are aware of it, and you’ll know you’re not the only one feeling this way! With this approach, you prepare for culture shock, and minimize the negative effects of it so that you can function and enjoy your time in another country.