HOW TO DEAL WITH CULTURAL SHOCK/DIFFERENCES?
Education abroad has always been a popular option for young individuals. Given the quality of education and living, work-options, the desire for a new experience, research prospects, etc., many students choose overseas education to improve their future. The education and lifestyle in India and overseas are vastly different, but the most striking distinction is the culture. Regarding their culture and beliefs, Indians are exceedingly rigorous and specific. Even if the western culture has already begun to get a foothold in India, it nevertheless adheres to the traditions and beliefs passed down from its forefathers. Indians have adapted to our culture, environment, language, and people. Moving to a place with an entirely different culture, language, and people can cause a major “culture shock.”
What is culture shock?
The term “culture shock” often refers to the feeling of confusion or disorientation one has upon encountering a culture or environment with which one is unfamiliar. This is something that almost all overseas students encounter, and as such, it is extremely frequent. The crucial step is to recognise and address it. There is nothing wrong with requiring a little more time to acclimatise to the new environment, as many students respond to culture shock in their own unique ways. Culture shock may help you adapt to a new environment in some ways.
Factors causing cultural shock?
1. A different way of living: Soon enough, you become acutely aware of how drastically your lifestyle has changed. You may feel completely overwhelmed by your newfound freedom. Disruptions to your daily routine can make it hard to know what to do in order to survive. Your life is something you have complete control over, so it’s vital that you act responsibly and make your own choices. To give just a few examples, if you don’t do the dishes, wash the clothes, shop for food, or do the tasks at hand, no one else will.
2. Language: Even if you have a solid command of the language spoken in your study nation, interacting with the locals will be a whole new experience. Local slang may be a component of the country’s everyday vernacular, to which you will become accustomed with time. For instance, Canadians refer to $1 as a loonie and $2 as a toonie, and a Double-Double is one of the most popular coffees here.
3. Academics: Each nation’s educational system is unique in its organisation, methods of instruction, grading scales, required coursework, due dates, awarding of financial aid, etc. There can be an overwhelming quantity of data to process and familiarise oneself with. Do your best not to let all this new information overwhelm you; instead, take it leisurely and attempt to comprehend it piece by piece so you can easily adapt to it.
4. Weather conditions: Each nation’s educational system is unique in its organisation, methods of instruction, grading scales, required coursework, due dates, awarding of financial aid, etc. There can be an overwhelming quantity of data to process and familiarise oneself with. Do your best not to let all this new information overwhelm you; instead, take it leisurely and attempt to comprehend it piece by piece so you can easily adapt to it.
5. New societal rules: Every culture, including your new setting, has some unwritten but widely accepted rules. These laws directly affect how the society runs on a daily basis. For instance, it’s customary to apologise or say “thank you” far too frequently in Canada, even for the most insignificant of things. If not, even if it wasn’t your intention, you might be seen as disrespectful. In Australia, even when meeting for the first time, a stranger may address you as mate.
6. Missing home or food : It’s natural to crave for familiar foods and the comforts of home. One solution is to seek out stores and eating establishments that stock items you enjoy. If you’re feeling homesick, learning to cook and hosting people can help. What’s even better is to go on the phone and make those calls back home.
Also read how to overcome homesickness.
Common symptoms of Homesickness
1. Anxiety, depression, loneliness: Early on, when you are still in the process of adjusting to your new environment, it is pretty usual to encounter these symptoms. The severity may vary according on the individual.
2. Homesickness: Feeling homesick is normal. It is typical to miss one’s native country and the people who reside there. It also occurs if you are unwilling to adapt to your new surroundings and attempt to maintain as much of your previous habits as possible. It is best to adapt and allow oneself to find and create new memories.
3. Disturbed sleep pattern: It is typical to have an irregular or distinct sleep pattern (earlier due to jet lag, later on due to difference in time zone). However, this may be prolonged due to protracted contemplation, stress, lack of confidence, or other similar factors.
4. Remoteness or Isolation: While some students like to immediately begin networking, meet new acquaintances, and tour the city, others would rather remain alone and avoid all public places. In your early years, it is normal to lack the motivation to leave the house, but it is not advisable to maintain this disposition for an extended period of time. It is essential to cultivate a social group that keeps you busy.
5. Decreased productivity: Some students have difficulty performing academically or professionally due to their incapacity to manage stress. Students may struggle to comprehend the new educational structure. It is essential to determine the source of this suffering and address it.
6. Poor time management: As an international student, it is essential to manage time effectively. If you miss a certain deadline for a project, for instance, you may lose significant grades. Occasionally, the lack of a timetable (either too much to accomplish or too much spare time) might throw off your schedule. Prioritizing your activities and striking a balance between work and leisure time is beneficial.
7. Drastic personality change: Some students find it relatively easy to assimilate into the new culture, whereas others attempt to adapt their personalities to the norms of the new community. This could result in noticeable personality changes. For instance, altering one’s accent to seem more professional, a sudden change in attire, an inability to control spending, etc. Allowing these changes to emerge organically is preferable to forcing them.
Overcoming cultural shock
Culture shock is manageable if you remain cool and eventually embrace the differences. Here are some excellent strategies to assist you:
1. Acceptance : Be aware that experiencing culture shock is quite common for any and all overseas students. You are not the only one going through this. Just give yourself some time to acclimatize to the new surroundings and don’t rush the process.
2. Keep connected: Do not attempt to deal with it on your own. It is in your best interest to maintain connections with family and friends who can assist you in remaining motivated. Maintain an open mind and investigate this fresh perspective on the situation.
3. Attend cultural events : You are going to be amazed by the quantity of social and cultural events that are organised on campus and in the surrounding area. Make sure you take part in them on a consistent basis. Volunteer your time if you have the opportunity. It is a wonderful opportunity for learning, and it might even provide a wonderful platform for networking.
4. Find work: Check the limitations of your visa and try to find something that you can do part-time if at all possible. You will be able to make better use of your time and also earn some additional money for yourself if you do this. It goes without saying that this will count as useful experience in the event that you apply for jobs in the future.
5. Socialize : Although it may take some time, you should make an effort to participate in a wide variety of social contacts. Building connections with other people and gaining an understanding of the issues they face will be facilitated by this. You might even have the opportunity to go out together and discover new restaurants or sites in the city.
6. Go for your hobbies : You should keep up with the interests you had before you arrived here, such as reading, gardening, cooking, or working out, among other things. The majority of universities also offer a variety of hobby clubs where you can participate based on the activities that most interest you. In that case, why don’t you try making your own?
7. Take professional help if needed: If you are in difficulty, do not hesitate to seek your advisers, counsellors, or instructors. Most colleges have facilitators who are well-trained to assist students in such situations. Feel free to contact them if necessary. Taking on such challenges on your own could be more detrimental to your mental health than you realise.
Remember that culture shock is an extremely normal reaction when travelling to a new setting, affecting the majority of international students, so you are not alone. It is manageable with patience and gradual adaptation to the new culture. Utilize it as a springboard to discover new chances and become more adaptable.
If you require any sort of assistance, please contact One window. We will gladly listen to you and help you out.