Studying abroad is an enriching experience that expands your horizons by providing solid global exposure, plentiful professional opportunities, and an immense scope of personal growth. But before you can make a remarkable journey in your host country, many roadblocks need to be overcome, such as culture shock.
Almost all international students experience culture shock. The language, food, values, etiquette, and more can be entirely different to what you are used to in your home country. At times, this can lead to bouts of anxiety, confusion, disorientation, and frustration. It's important to remember nothing should limit you from making the most out of your study abroad experience from the very beginning!
To help you manage culture shocks, we have created a list of five effective tips for adapting to a new culture while studying overseas, which will help you transition to your new life as smoothly as possible!
Research Your Host Country Before You Arrive
This is a given, but it is imperative to research your host country before you set foot there. This will help you to understand your new country better and learn what you can expect from it; thus, reducing the impact of culture shock.
Know that the Internet is your best friend, so make sure to hunt for all the relevant information about your host country, specifically the city you're planning to move into. You can stay up to date by reading local news websites regularly, going through the travel guides and travel forums, and understanding the country's current political and economic situation.
You should also visit your university's website and read the international student's column to learn about various tips, resources, and help available to you from students who have been in your shoes. Most importantly, don't forget to check the typical weather of your new country, which will help you pack accordingly.
Observe Keenly to Understand the Local Etiquette
You must have an open mind and a readiness to adapt to a new culture. Think of it as a learning experience where you will understand a new way of life in terms of culture, values, language, traditions, and more. It will help you know the commonly practised etiquette in your host country.
Etiquette varies widely from country to country, for example something that is considered polite in your culture can be seen as insulting in some other culture. So, you need to learn the basic etiquette of your host country beforehand and observe how local people interact with each other.
Try to communicate with the local people, such as your peers, teachers, neighbours, etc., as much as possible. It is natural to have queries about a new culture, so don't be afraid to ask them about the things that seem interesting, confusing, or even challenging to you. Many people appreciate seeing a foreigner putting effort to learn their culture, and they willingly assist you should you have any questions and doubts regarding it.
Choose Shared Student Accommodation
Living alone can be quite an intimidating and stressful affair for many, especially those dealing with homesickness. To adjust better to your new life, it can be best that you choose to stay in shared accommodation, such as university halls or shared private accommodation like student housing in London, student accommodation in Manchester, etc.
It can be cheaper and provides you with the company of a friend, i.e. your roommate. After all, having friends by your side in a foreign country will help you make fond memories and share your feelings when going through a rough patch in your life!
If you are someone who has never lived on their own and would like to have the comfort of a family, then you can consider choosing a homestay, which is an excellent way to absorb yourself in the local way of life and experience it closely.
Travel Around Your Host Country
The best way to understand your host country is travelling around. This offers you the chance to learn about the country's history and geography, converse with the natives, and immerse in the culture entirely.
So get out of your student studio apartment in Sheffield or Glasgow and go on trips with your friends to witness the breathtaking countryside, magnificent tourist attractions, and historical landmarks of your host country. Furthermore, you should also well-acquaint yourself with the local markets, eateries, clubs, libraries, scenic parks, and more of your city to quickly get familiarised with the place.
Communicate with Others!
Many universities offer mentoring programs for first-year international students to interact with upper-year students of the same country. This approach allows the incoming students to understand their new country's culture, ask queries, and make new friends.
Besides this you should talk to other international students and discuss your issues. Most students will be going through the same set of emotions and problems, which you can share your issues with each other to find a concrete solution.
Do you need help locating the best student accommodation?
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Writer: Harshita Anand is a postgraduate in English Journalism and a graduate in Hotel Management. She has gained dynamic exposure working in a diverse range of industries. Her enriching experience has fueled her desire to seek an abundance of knowledge about the world and enlighten others with the same!