Student Handbook - Coping with Culture Shock
You will experience a range of emotions during and after studying abroad. Keep in mind that initial disorientation is a normal part of adjusting to a new culture. This feeling will soon pass and you will begin to enjoy your new experiences. While it may be disconcerting, culture shock can be a growth process that increases your understanding of your host culture and of yourself. One of the most effective strategies to mitigate culture shock is to prepare yourself. The more you know about what to expect, the more comfortable you will be. Research the local history, politics, cultural norms, etiquette, and education systems. Talk to other students who have been abroad and to international students at your home university before you go.
There are also many positive steps you can take upon arrival to help overcome potential feelings of loneliness. Here are a few suggestions:
- Start keeping a journal when you settle into your residence.
- Make friends and share feelings with other foreign students or advisors.
- Improve your language skills and learn about your new school and neighborhood.
- Get involved in an enjoyable activity that helps you meet people.
- Plan excursions and participate in sports and recreational activities.
SUPPORT SYSTEMS: Although it is possible that you will be the only ISEP student from your home institution in your chosen program of study, remember that you are not alone. Your host ISEP Coordinator can be an important resource when dealing with any issues that arise during your program. Your host institution may also organize clubs for foreign students or groups where you can meet people dealing with issues similar to your own. If not, build your own support group. Find at least one person—a fellow student, professor, or host parent—to talk to if difficulties arise.