What is it?
Leaving home and moving abroad can be a very stressful experience. Even though it may be something you have planned and prepared for. The impact of moving from a familiar environment to an unfamiliar one is referred to as ‘culture shock’. Being separated from your family and friends and people who give you support and guidance also can be shocking and this is a part of the culture shock. It might be helpful if you realise that your experience is quite normal, it can affect anyone who experiencing a new culture, meeting new people and adjusting to a life in another country.
Don’t feel “this isn’t going to happen to me”. Culture shock can hit you whatever culture you come from and however experienced or well-travelled you are.
How to help yourself?
Though culture shock is normally a temporary phase, it is important to know there are things you can do to help so that some of these worrying effects can be minimised.
- Understand that this is a normal experience.
- Keep in touch with home.
- Have familiar things around you such as photographs.
- Find a supplier of familiar food if you can.
- Get involved with activities, so you meet new people and make new friends.
- Speak to someone who has already had experience of being an international student.
- Avoid having friends only from your country but maintain strong personal ties to your culture while you are away from home
- Talk to people from your country about your stresses and ask how they have dealt with the same situation
- Find a place where you feel comfortable and spend time there
- Above all find someone to talk to who will listen uncritically and with understanding, rather than isolating yourself.
If you do experience culture shock - depression, sadness and loneliness, insomnia or sleeping too much, easily tired, hopelessness - please remember that this affects most students and you are not the only person to have these feelings. If you need extra support, please set up an appointment with the Central Student Service Office or contact your programme coordinator.