Dealing with culture shock
There is no avoiding it. Even seasoned travelers experience symptoms of culture shock.
Symptoms may include homesickness, depression, sleeping problems, irritability, or desire to be left alone.
The following strategies may help you deal with the symptoms of culture shock:
- Talk to and become friendly with many different locals. Because every person is different even when they live in the same town, talking to different people will not only offer you different perspectives, but also help you find similarities and common interests with the people you may otherwise feel distant from.
- Keep in touch with other international students, especially American students. They can become your support system.
- Keep yourself busy doing things you enjoy. Go to movies, read books, check out concerts, do some sightseeing.
- Keep in touch with your family and friends at home. Make phone calls, use Skype, or write e-mails. Regular contact with your loved ones will make you feel less isolated.
- Focus on your long-term goals. Learning how to overcome culture shock and experience a foreign culture is a valuable skill that you will be able to apply to many different situations later in life.
If you find that feelings of irritability and depression last longer than a month, you should seek help from a doctor or a counselor. Your program director or the international students office at your university abroad should be able to help you find counseling.
You can also contact Giulia Welch, Associate Director of Study Abroad, for guidance: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Maximizing your experience
Preparing to come home
- Go through What's Up With Culture? an interactive program that will prepare you for your return to the United States while still abroad. In particular, look at Module 2, sections 1 and 2.
- Consult Re-Entry Manual to prepare for and find strategies for overcoming the challenges of returning to the United States.
The Global Education Office gratefully acknowledges the following organizations for supplying some of the materials we refer to on this page:
- Council on International Educational Exchange
- International Task Force on Safety and Responsibility in Study Abroad
- NAFSA: Association of International Educators
- Penn State University's Education Abroad Programs
- Queen's University International Centre, Kingston, Ontario
- School for International Training
- Syracuse University's Division of International Programs
- University of Colorado at Boulder’s Office of International Education
- University of Kansas Office of Study Abroad
- University of Michigan's International Center
- University of Minnesota Office of International Education