How to Overcome Culture Shock while Studying Abroad?

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culture shock

Studying abroad is a dream of most students today because of the high-quality education and global opportunities that come with it. Are you one of them? If you are preparing for study abroad, you need to be prepared to deal with the culture shock that you would be feeling at least in the initial duration of studying abroad. So what exactly is culture shock and how to deal with it? Take a look at this blog to find out!

What is Cultural Shock?

Culture shock is experienced by a student who moves to a new country for their studies and are suddenly surrounded by an unfamiliar environment, people, customs, food, dressing style etc. In simple terms, culture shock is the feeling of anxiety or confusion that one may experience on visiting or moving to an unfamiliar place or country. The time one requires for overcoming culture shock varies from person to person, it may take as little as a few days for some, or as long as weeks or months for another. There are mainly four stages of culture shock that one may experience. These are:

  • Initial Ecstasy-For the first few days, you would feel excited about everything around you and be looking for both similarities and differences between the new culture and the one you have grown up in
  • The Negotiation Stage– This is a stage where you feel angry and irritated with all or most of the aspects of the new culture and feel that you are being burdened with a lot of adjustments
  • Adjustment Stage– This stage of culture shock is a positive stage that you reach within some weeks of residing in the new country. You start to become more familiar and comfortable with the new people, food habits and customs and you start understanding and accepting the cultural differences
  • The Mastery Stage-You do miss your family, friends and of course the food back home, but are still comfortable in your new environment. You will slowly get integrated into the culture of the new country.
Credits: Pinterest

Factors Causing Culture Shock

There are several factors that can result in cultural shock. These factors are as follows:

  • Moving to another country means adapting to another way of living. Hence, this newfound independence can be overwhelming. It is important to be responsible and to take control. For example, those who do not cook their meals or buy groceries will have to do it.
  • Adapting to another language and weather conditions can be overwhelming.  For example, in Canada, there is a new degree of cold during the winters, and in the UK rain are more frequent
  • Every country has a different academic structure, scoring pattern, teaching methodologies, deadlines, and scholarships. Hence, time can be taken to adapt to the same 
  • Several societal rules are unspoken and are well understood. When a student moves to another country he/she can come across new societal rules. For example, it is common in Canada to say ‘Sorry’ and Thank You’ regarding small things.

Common Symptoms of Culture Shock

Here is a list of the common symptoms of cultural shock. 

  • Homesickness 
  • Anxiety, depression, or loneliness
  • Disturbed sleep patterns
  • Remoteness or isolation
  • Disturbed sleep patterns
  • Decreased productivity
  • Poor time management
  • Drastic personality changes

5 Tips to Overcome Cultural Shock

Now that you know about the different stages of culture shock, you must be wondering how you can make your transition from one stage to another easier. Although moving from the first stage of culture shock to the last will definitely take some time, here are some tips to make it easier:

Start Preparing Yourself

When you move abroad for studies or for a job adjusting to a new country will be difficult initially. That’s why it is important to gain prior knowledge about the country you are moving to. Make sure you update yourself with all information about your chosen country prior to reaching there so that you have an idea of what you can expect in terms of culture.

Credits: Giphy

Relieve Stress

Moving abroad comes with whole new experiences you will remember your whole life. At the initial stage, you will be homesick and miss your friends and family. At times like these, look for things to distract yourself – cooking, watching your favorite shows, and hanging out with new friends can help you deal with culture shock.

Credits: Pinterest

Stay Motivated and Positive

Always have an optimistic approad towards things. Instead of picking out the negative points, focus on the good things. Start listening to motivational podcasts – these can give you a daily dose of motivation and positivity to keep you going throughout the day. Read motivational books. Reading can help divert your mind from all the negative feelings that you might be having, while also motivating you to move on towards positivity.

Credits: Pinterest

Learn the Local Lanuage

As the country is, same should be the guise. Even though English helps us to interact with other at a global level but learning the local language will be a cherry on top. Try learning the local language, it will not only add to your skills but local people will treat you as one of them if you show interest in their language or culture.

Credits: Tenor

Make New Friends

Try to interact and bond with other international students. Make new friends – mingling with both local people and people from different places can not only broaden your knowledge but also help you deal with culture shock.

Credits: Pinterest

Also Read: Study Abroad Scholarships


What causes culture shock?

Culture shock is caused by being suddenly exposed to a culture different from what one is familiar with.

What are the 4 stages of culture shock?

The four stages of culture shock are the initial ecstasy stage, the negotiation stage, the adjustment stage and the mastery stage.

How long does culture shock last?

There is no definite time frame for overcoming culture shock, it can last anywhere between a few days to a few months or more.

How can I overcome culture shock?

There are many strategies through which you can overcome culture shock. Some of them include keeping yourself updated about the country, keeping a positive attitude, reading motivational books, making new friends etc.

Hope this blog on how to overcome culture shock while studying abroad was helpful. Want to pursue your higher education abroad? Reach out to our study abroad experts at Leverage Edu who can guide you in choosing the best course and university as per your choices, interests, and requirements. Sign up for a free session today!

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