How to Survive Culture Shock
When you are preparing for your college adventures abroad, it's easy enough to make sure
you get all the right forms filled out, have your passport ready, your bags packed, and your
textbooks waiting for you at the other end, but how do you prepare for the adjustment to a new
place? Especially, how to survive culture shock?
If your language is not the main language spoken, make sure you take some classes in the
local language before you go. Phrase books are all very well, but listening is the best way to learn.
Audiotapes are a good alternative.
Any travel agent can tell you what the average rainfall will be and where the best tourist
destinations are, but that doesn't help much. Ask around to find out if anyone you know has been
there. Ask the travel agent for any less touristoriented information and check libraries and
bookstores. Make sure you pack toiletries, medicines, and personal items before you leave. Sure,
you can find a lot of things in the new country, but the brands and ingredients might be different
and confusing, so go prepared. That will make it easier when you eventually do have to do some
Take a phone card so you can phone home for the sound of a familiar voice.
When you get on the plane, set your watch to the new time zone and try and place yourself in
it. Drink plenty of water because flying dehydrates you. Stretch your legs and get some sleep.
Make sure you know where your consulate office is in case of emergencies. If you don't know, ask
airport staff, university staff or use a phone book, but find it before you need it.
Remember, if you take an umbrella, it won't rain. Use the university resources available to
you. Be diligent about attending things like orientation. It might seem like a drag, particularly
when you are tired and don't know anyone, but it will be worth it in the long run. Prepare a list of
questions before you go to orientation or welcome functions so that you don't forget to ask for
information you need. How do I get a drivers license? Open a bank account? Get a bus into town?
Can I use my electric razor / hair dryer here? Where is the nearest medical center? Ask to be put in
touch with other students from your country or who speak your language. Many colleges offer a
mentor or buddy system and if you are not staying with a family, making new friends can really
help you settle in. Go for short walks to familiarize yourself with your area, and set yourself a task
each time, maybe to find a newspaper stand that sells international papers, or to find a restaurant
that serves familiar food, locate a currency exchange center, laundromat or cinema.
Later on. Remember, culture shock takes a while to get used to, so give yourself time. Even
the most simple things aren't always the same in another country. Buses are different, so get maps
and timetables. Road rules are different, so use extra care. The currency is different, so familiarize
yourself with the money. Habits are hard to break. To get the most out of your study abroad
experience, find a happy medium between home and your new environment. It's important to look
for the balance. This is a little bit like changing the water in a fish tank.You are supposed to keep
one/ third of the old water and replace two/ thirds with fresh water.That way, the fish don't
completely freak out.Their new environment is diluted with some water from their old
environment. That makes sense to the students who study at another country. And once you think
you got the water right, you can start to enjoy the swim!