Culture shock is the personal disorientation a person may feel when experiencing an unfamiliar way of life; studying in a foreign country certainly fits the description. Many of us are familiar with the term but did you know that culture shock can be described as consisting of four distinct phases? Understanding what you are going through is the first step in overcoming the disorientation. Let’s break it down:
The Honeymoon Phase
During first few weeks, we may tend to see the differences between the old and new culture in a romantic light. Full of new discoveries, we may be overly fascinated and paint a false picture of reality, like most honeymoon periods, this stage eventually ends.
In most cases, usually around three months (depending on the individual), differences between the old and new culture may abruptly discard the romantic light and create anxiety. The language barrier may become a major obstacle in creating new relationships.
One soon grows accustomed to the new culture and things become or feel more “normal”. The culture begins to make sense and one develops positive attitude.
We are able to participate comfortably in the host culture or in other words - no longer shocked.
Now that we have identified the phases, let’s explore ways to ensure we reach the Mastery Phase in the quickest of time.
Tips for dealing with culture shock:
- Get a head start on building your language skills. Read course text books published in the language of your destination country to become familiar with the style of language
- Research and read more articles/blogs about your destination country
- Research the weather and climate
- Install a currency converter app on your phone
- Find out if anyone you know is also studying at the same university or college
- Visit the international office to get advice and useful info
- Join university groups and clubs to meet new friends
- Stay grounded but open minded
- Be aware of your thoughts and stay active
Studying abroad is that chapter in your life where you become an independent, confident adult. Never forget to see the world with wonder, just not too overly romantic to the point of false imagery.
To find out more about studying abroad; don’t wait, just click here