Understand that you are likely to experience some aspect of culture shock during your time abroad, and if you do, you are not alone! By being prepared for this, you will be better able to cope if you experience these things when abroad. This is a normal process in which you experience anxiety as the result of leaving your comfort zone, facing language and cultural barriers, and/or being uprooted from usual support systems. There are four stages you may encounter:
Honeymoon Stage (This happens just after arriving in your host country. You have feelings of excitement and euphoria about everything being new; you’re ready to take on the challenge!)
Frustration Stage(The initial excitement is wearing off. You are starting to feel anxious, angry, homesick and/or disinterested in your new surroundings)
- What to do: Know that it takes time to get accustomed to your new home, and your feelings are normal. Stay positive. Try keeping a journal.
Understanding Stage (You’re becoming more familiar with the culture, people, and food. You have some friends and aren’t as homesick. You feel more comfortable and are better able to handle day-to-day situations.)
Acclimation Stage: (You feel like you really belong. You compare the good and bad to your host country with good and bad of the U.S. You don’t feel as isolated. You can laugh about your earlier stages of culture shock.)
Handling Culture Shock:
- Find someone you are comfortable talking with, whether it’s your new roommate or a staff member in ECSU’s study abroad office. Don’t be surprised if it becomes harder to relate to your friends back home. Connect with those who understand your new surroundings.
- Check whether your university has a counseling center which provides resources if you feel you would like to speak with a professional
- Get involved! Find something you like to do in your new setting, whether it’s going to the beach or sitting in a coffee shop. Take a walk. Exercise. Do not just stay in your room.
- Stay connected with those at home through email, Facebook, and Skype.