Challenges and cultural differences are to be expected when you study abroad and both can be internalized as overwhelming at times. Culture shock can create an initial feeling when challenges seem insurmountable when you move to a new country for a few weeks, or a few months, but you’re not alone. If you experience homesickness, loneliness, or isolation then you’re probably feeling like the rest of the students who are abroad with you! As educators with years of experiences abroad, we want to share resources, tips, and ideas to help you overcome the initial obstacles.
Read on for five productive ways on working through culture shock.
1. Learn About Your Destination
For starters, it’s always comforting being able to learn as much as you can about your host country! When students acknowledge a country’s habits, traditions, and cultural values, it offers a surplus of knowledge. This will help you understand cultural differences easier and adapt with various perspectives.
2. Give Yourself Time to Acclimate
It’s normal to need to take some time out of your day to process what you’ve experienced. Explore your surroundings and make yourself feel at home. All of those amazing monuments and architecture are there to be viewed so take time to appreciate them for their beauty.
Trying new foods can be an intriguing way of getting used to another culture. Tasting different cuisines and finding dishes you like can calm nerves or initial dislikes. Relaxing or spending some alone time after class with a journal and your thoughts is another way to acclimate. If you’ve made a bunch of friends, or a few, you can create groups and explore. You can also reach out to the EdOdyssey team to see if we have any ideas!
In a world where we like staying busy, checking in with yourself can alleviate suppressed feelings. These are all great ways to help yourself get used to a new environment.
3. Maintain An Open Mindset
Try to begin taking every experience in as an adventure, no matter its significance. As you keep an open mind, you’ll allow yourself to get connected with acquaintances or other students and immerse yourself in unfamiliar experiences.
Observing another culture besides your own also grants you the ability to empathize with others when you see other points of views. Maintaining an easygoing attitude empowers you to say “yes” when trying new things. When we’re open to ideas, we have the ability to take chances and see change.
4. Get Involved
Being involved with other students is crucial to building meaningful relationships. You’re not the only one that might feel frustrated, and it’s exciting meeting people from other countries you wouldn’t expect!
Enjoying each other’s company gives you a sense of community and support that you’ve been used to back home. Another helpful tip is joining a club or community that offers other opportunities for engagement within your host country.
You may try making friends with locals who will be able to explain the ins and outs of any questions that you may have about their city. They can also become great informal tour guides while you hang out together during your spare time! Engaging yourself with people of different backgrounds is what studying abroad is all about.
5. Connect With Family & Friends At Home
Sometimes homesickness comes to us unexpectedly. And that’s perfectly normal and okay. Set up a structured time during the week where you can chat with your family about what’s been happening in your life.
Keeping an open line of communication can help you feel connected to those back home. Although it’s important as a student who’s living abroad, and with your family, to stay updated, it’s also beneficial to put the phone down and live in the moment.
Overall, try to make the most out of your time abroad, since you’ll be back home before you know it! Check out “Four Keys For Having The Best Homestay Experience“ to read more about navigating through a new living situation while abroad!