How to Deal with Culture Shock While Studying Abroad

Study abroad programs enable students to see the world and experience cultures in an immersive way. Although this is an exciting prospect, it can also be somewhat daunting. Once the initial excitement wears off, the rush of new scents and sounds may lead to a feeling of being overwhelmed by it all. The result can be an urge to withdraw or experiencing unusual levels of irritability. This period of adjustment is known as culture shock.

If you find yourself concerned about homesickness or are having difficulty adjusting, here are a few coping strategies that may help.

  • Have a positive attitude. Learning the local social norms takes time. Understanding that a period of adjustment is normal can help you relax and deal with the confusion and discomfort.
  • Be open to new experiences. If depression or frustration has set in, try a day trip outside the immediate area. This can help rejuvenate your energy levels and restore your adventurous nature.
  • Watch a favorite local television program. Not only can it help you brush up on language skills, but it also gives you something to talk about with others.
  • Get involved in fitness classes, whether they are on campus or at a local community center. Even if your grasp of the language isn’t perfect, you can probably follow the instructor’s movements. The exercise can help you deal with the stress and stay healthy.

Learning to handle culture shock in a productive, positive manner can be motivating. It helps people to learn stress management skills, and as you gain experience, it becomes easier to overcome.