Culture Shock

Culture shock is uncomfortable. Experts say it is not a medical condition but a way of defining the overwhelming experience and nervous feelings of a person when he leaves a normal and familiar way of life and live in another culture. Moving to a new place is not that easy. You will be experiencing a lot of changes. There are people who think it is interesting but it can bring many challenges. You can be disappointed, sad, worried, and there are many times when you want to go home. For foreign students, when these negative feelings and overwhelming experience are not handled well, these can be very depressing.

Well, it is normal to have some difficulties in adjusting and blending to a new and different way of life. There are people from other places and you will be bound to hang out and be with the school. Foreign students, as well as with those in the locality were raised in different cultures, beliefs, traditions, and values. You will all have different ways of expressing yourselves and different opinions based on your traditions and beliefs. Nothing to worry about, culture shock is not permanent.

So, you are excited to meet new friends in the campus. You will experience different academic approaches. You may also experience the difficulty of meeting the academic deadlines and settling into your college activities. True enough, coping with culture shock needs special skills and positive attitude.

Before coming into a new place, learn about the new place or else, both you and the host country will face and experience culture shock. There are students who are resilient and liberal and so, they will be able to cope with the new place and experience if they are prepared mentally and psychologically. So, brace up with the new experience, accept the realities and let the journey begins!

Causes of Culture Shock

There are important aspects of culture shock. Science tells us that genes define our appearance and behaviors. However, the type of environment we are raised have a huge impact on how we look and act.

Environment does not consist of the air and the food only, but big aspect of our environment is the culture we were brought up. Culture involves things that the community learned from the family, friends, literature, media, and the like. This culture affects how we act, look, and even communicate. How we see our religion, how and what we eat, and ways of behaving are just some of the examples of our way of life, also known as culture.

And so, we go to another place, a new country, a new way of life which sometimes so different from ours, particularly the language. There are times when it is too hard to adjust and blend in with the culture and the people.

Useful Tips for Coping with Culture Shock

Again, culture shock comes from experiencing different ways of behaving and doing things which are different from what we were brought up. It is not a result or a consequence, but a temporary “awareness” of the different way of life, of communicating, and of seeing things from the new place that we need to adjust and blend.

As students who are leaving your comfort zone, here are some tips so you will not be overwhelmed with new experiences and ways of doing things:

  • Before coming to the host country, try as much as possible about their people, culture, and the like. When you arrived, ordinarily the host nationals will help.
  • Look for logical reasons why there are cultural differences and how it can contribute to your growth.
  • Refrain from shutting yourself from your host country. Spend time with other Aussies and other foreign students. Know them and know them well. Who knows you may be able to stay longer in Australia or go to other countries?
  • Find a host national whom you can trust, rely, and confident to discuss your feelings and experiences. Tell them particular events and experiences, tell them how you would act if you are at home, and the like.
  • Most of all, trust and have faith in yourself. You can survive, cope, and succeed for the purpose that brought you to Australia and the campus.

No matter how different the culture is, we are all logical have the same purpose and end. We all come to this world to succeed and be happy with what we have achieved and celebrate experience with others – Aussies, Latin Americans, Europeans, and more. We are all human and we want to love and belong.

Begin your journey now with  a smile and confidence!

Andrea Palacios

Andrea Palacios

Andrea Palacios arrived in Australia from Colombia in 2001 as an international student. She studied Diploma of Business Marketing before going on to study Bachelor of Business at Swinburne University followed by a graduate Certificate in Australian Immigration Law at Victoria University. Following the completion of her studies, Andrea went on to start her own company in early 2006 – Blue Studies International, a student recruitment agency assisting students that want to live, study, work in Australia, USA, UK, Canada and New Zealand.