Moving across the world to an unknown country, on your own, can have plenty of challenges. One of the biggest challenges that international students face is culture shock. Culture shock is a psychological phenomenon that is experienced by many people who study, volunteer or work abroad for an extended period of time. It typically stems from exposure to new cultures, languages, people, lifestyles, and mannerisms, and arises as feelings of loneliness, anger, fatigue, and detachment from reality (and these are just a few potential symptoms of culture shock). It can sneak up on even the most well-rounded and experienced travelers, and we’ve compiled a list of how you can deal with this better! 

1. Be open-minded

Understand that every country or area has its own traditions and mannerisms that will be very different from what you’ve grown up with. Approach interactions with no expectations of how the other person might react. 

2. Adjusting takes time! 

Be patient with yourself and understand that it is a process. There will be many different emotions that you will go through, and it’s okay to feel that way. Set goals for yourself to help yourself adjust, like discovering one new thing about the place you are in each week. 

3. Focus on the positives

Look around and see what makes this different from back home. What is here that wasn’t there? It could be a new type of food, or a new plant, a new animal. Remember that discovering and learning new things is why you wanted to study abroad. Write down fun or interesting discoveries and add to your list throughout the year. 

4. Understand academic expectations 

Not only are you adjusting to a new country, but you are also learning how to handle a different academic system. This takes time. Understanding expectations will reduce your anxiety about school work.

Chat with your professors, advisor and friends about what is expected at your university. This will soothe your nerves and help you approach your classes appropriately.

5. Socialize! 

Bonding with other students can be easy since they share your perspective but befriend local students, too. They can help you adjust to local culture, answer your questions and have fun while you are abroad. Take the first step and start conversations with new people.

6. Find ways to relieve stress

Adjusting to culture shock at university can be stressful. Exercising can help you burn off nervous energy while exploring your new home. Yoga or meditation could help you relax. Exploring new hobbies or joining a student club on campus, especially those that encourage socializing and meeting new people, can help you overcome culture shock.