How to deal with culture shock on an exchange programme


Whether it is your first time travelling to a different country or you are a frequent traveller, culture shock is something that happens to people that leave the comfort of their own surroundings and explore somewhere new.

Many people experience culture shock! Even if the new country you are studying in isn’t too different to back home.

There is likely to be a short period of adjustment for many people. Here are some tips on how to overcome culture shock… 

What is Culture Shock?

Culture shock is the “feeling of disorientation experienced by someone when they are suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes.”  

For instance, language barriers or not understanding new settings, foods or cultural attitudes can cause culture shock. As a result, it may cause you to feel misunderstood, upset or irritated.

But don’t worry! In this article we will break down the certain stages of culture shock so you can recognise them. After that, give you some tips on how to overcome this completely natural part of living in a foreign country…. 

The stages of culture shock:

1)  When you first arrive, everyone will be new and exciting to you. 

2) After the initial excitement subsides you may start to become frustrated with your new surroundings. This could be due to things that effect your day to day life, like differences with transport, language barriers, social interactions and food.  

3) Settling in! These things take time, once you become accustomed to your new country, the things you once thought were strange will eventually start to become the norm. It takes time to adjust and you will eventually find your feet 

man on map - culture shock

How to overcome culture shock:

1 – Firstly, accept your feelings.

It’s completely normal when living abroad to get frustrated when adjusting to new surroundings. You are not expected to be happy all the time! However all you can do is accept these new feelings and realise that they will not be permanent. 

2 – Face your fears and get out there!

It may be tempting to stay at home and hide from the world but the only way to overcome culture shock it to get stuck in! Create a routine that encourages you to go out into the world and gain experience with different new aspects of your country.  

3 – Make friends!

No one should have to face this alone and it will help to have some positive people around you so that you can overcome these feelings together! Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your friendshost family or other people around you. 

4 – Talk to your family back home.

There is no harm in seeking some comfort from your loved ones at home every now and then.

5 – Discuss how you are feeling with your HSI Student Advisor.

They are there to listen to your worries and lend a helping hand to make sure you settle in and feel more comfortable in your new home. Plus, they will have some inside knowledge on some of the new things you may be experiencing and having difficulty with!

friends: culture shock
Remember that you are not here forever, so try to enjoy the differences, you’ll miss them when you go back home! Life is all about getting out of your comfort zone, learning and experiencing new things and you should be very proud of yourself. 

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