How to Handle Culture Shock When Studying Abroad

Culture shock can have a disastrous effect on you if you don’t take the time to recognize that it’s happening to you. When an individual experiences this phenomenon, they tend to feel angry and frustrated with the people in their new community. As a result, they will try to distance themselves from it, seeking companionship among others who are foreign to that culture. The better approach is to accept that this is a normal experience and that there are things you can do to alleviate the situation.

Expect to Experience It

Even if you plan to study in Canada, you should expect to experience some measure of culture shock soon after arriving in your new community. You should prepare yourself for this experience by simply recognizing that it will happen to you. Since getting used to a different culture will take several weeks up to a few months, you shouldn’t expect to fit in right away. If you accept that you’ll need to take some time to learn about life in this new community, you’ll be able to avoid some of the frustration that comes along with learning about a new culture.

Accept That You Will Be Homesick

Even a short vacation can lead people to feel homesick, so just imagine how you will feel when you’re spending an entire semester far from home. It’s not uncommon for some students to discover that this experience isn’t for them, leading them to return home sooner than expected. However, if you remind yourself that you’re here for the new experience, you can shed some of that homesickness. You can also use the internet and other resources to stay connected with loved ones and friends back home. As you meet new friends abroad, you can share your experiences of life in the U.S., and they may find your stories just as interesting as you find their city.

Look For Positive Experiences

If you only focus on the negative things about the foreign land you’re visiting, you’re certain to be miserable throughout the entire semester. Instead, look for things you like about this new community to limit the culture shock you experience. Perhaps there’s a cafe that you find especially welcoming. Stop by for a coffee when you have free time. You can also explore parks, shopping centers, historical sites, or anything else that piques your interest. Take the time to really get to know your new city. Before you know it, this culturally different city will seem like home to you.

Address Your Academic Challenges

You should never lose sight of the fact that your primary reason for living in this different culture is that you’re there to learn. This will involve more than simply studying. Culture shock can occur in school as well as in your personal experiences. Instructors in a foreign university may have teaching methods that are different from anything you have experienced in the past. If you feel confused or frustrated, it’s a good idea to meet with your instructors to discuss your concerns. Let them know that you find their methods unusual and ask them to clarify their expectations of you. You should also make an effort to get to know your classmates. Other students may be able to provide additional insights that will help you to succeed better in this new environment.

Once you take steps to deal with culture shock, you can have a much more enjoyable experience as you study abroad. You may even find that you like some of the things that initially bothered you about that new culture. It may take some time and an adjustment to your way of thinking, but you can overcome culture shock in any situation.