The moment you decide to study in a new country, you may want to consider preparing yourself first. That could be done by getting some knowledge about how people live, interact, talk, dress, and among other things all that goes under the definition of culture. Understanding the dynamics of a new culture may take some time, but it eventually will benefit you. As an international student, don’t always expect to be a part of a new society or an acceptable and active student unless you are a part of the culture. Culture shock, when it occurs is because students were weak in some cultural background of the host country. Basically, to get yourself comfortable with your new surroundings, you need to be well prepared.
When international students first arrive in the host country, they usually tend to be very excited and never think about how difficult the adjustment and adaptation might be. What excites them the most is the word “New.” Everything is new. It’s an exciting experience that occurs once in your life time, and you just want to try everything available to you. Additionally, you will generally have a very nice impression about the host country and its people. This sometimes can lead to over expectations. Students’ expectations can go far beyond reality, which turn to be a disappointment. If you are not careful, this can result in a major disappointment.
As time passes, international students start questioning. What am I doing here? How did this happen? Is this really what I wanted to do? This is the realization process or phase. You might start to overthink about everything. As pressure becomes higher than ever, wrong decisions are often made. A feeling of hopelessness is common at this period of time. You may say: “School is not what I expected to be”. Or you might think: “It’s too much to deal with this”. You may wonder about the culture of your host country. All of these are a reaction to your unrealistic expectations.
Despite all of that, your journey can be exactly what you hoped for. But how? Here are few tips that could provide you a better understanding that could eventually lead to a better experience and avoidance of culture shock as well as other possible problems.
- Obtain information about the host country such as food, sports, cultural aspects and so on. In this way you would not be surprised or unfamiliar with your future surroundings. Don’t make choices based on others’ perspectives or preferences. You are the one who is going to study abroad so choose what you feel more comfortable with. Nowadays, it’s not hard to “check” or “educate” yourself more about the place where you decide to study since the internet offers almost everything about every topic. As a result, you will avoid unrealistic expectations since most of what you will encounter will be expected.
- Prepare yourself emotionally. This could be done by motivating yourself and trusting your abilities. Think about your international study as if it’s an investment. You have to understand that knowledge is the primary purpose of your journey. This preparation may take some time, but that’s very normal. However, by having this done, you will always remember and focus on what your priority is, and your personal goals won’t be interrupted.
- Become tolerant of cultural differences. This is not your country. You have to be an outgoing and tolerant person who doesn’t get offended because of some slight differences in terms of culture, language, etc. Furthermore, be curious! This is the time to be a curious person because you need to get the most out of your experience. This might be the first and the last opportunity for you, so take advantage of the opportunity. Curiosity could mean being active and always willing to learn. Additionally, be always positive and more importantly realistic. No matter what, it’s always good to be positive. Start by having great expectations of yourself before thinking of what may come from others. However, be as realistic as you can to avoid feelings of disappointment.
- Find out how the educational experience differs from what you are used to. Especially with respect to:
- Role of professors
- Grading structure
- Homework expectations
- Test practices
- Find another student who can guide you through your new experience. Nothing is more valuable than someone who has already gone through what you will be experiencing.
It will take time to adjust to your host country, so start preparing early on..