Culture Shock for International Students

There are many advantages of studying overseas, but that does not mean it is always easy. Foreign students often experience culture shock. It is not unusual to miss home at times when you’re studying abroad, particularly when you come into contact with a different culture to the one you’re used to.

Impact of culture shock on international students

Culture shock is when you get swamped by distressing or confusing surroundings. Some impacts can be tangible, like headaches, and other impacts are mental, like feeling sad. It may be just one thing that makes you uneasy, or a whole horde of new sights, sounds and tastes that are not what you’re familiar with.

The good news is that not everyone goes through culture shock, and if you do there are easy methods use in overcoming it and becoming more comfortable no matter where you go to study; then you can return to enjoying your new experiences.

How to deal with culture shock

Local customs

When you first arrive overseas, you may be jet-lagged and weary from the journey, which can contribute to a usual feeling of culture shock as you try to comprehend your new environment. People may not be conversing in a language you know, or it may be overly loud and hectic, and you may feel nervous as a result.

Researching what to anticipate from any nation you’re considering studying in is a good way to know if it will be right for you. Try to learn the cultural dos and don’ts or manners that may be different from your home nation. Being aware of these in advance can assist you start getting ready for anything that might shock you.


You may discover that the food in the nation you’re schooling in is not to your taste. Often, the types of food you’ve become used to for breakfast, lunch and dinner will not be the same in other areas of the world. When the food on offer is especially unappetizing to you, it can be hard to feel comfortable and healthy.

It’s best to try the new cuisine instead of avoiding it altogether, and you may find yourself with a new favourite food. Take a walk around grocery stores or marketplaces to get a better idea of what food is readily obtainable and how best to prepare it.

You could find it useful to head to school with some of your favorite snacks to eat, or get folks from home to bring some if they pay you a visit. Always check which foods are permitted to be brought into some nations, or you may find yourself needing to dispose of it at the border.


It can be quite exasperating to not know how the transport system works. Not knowing if you have to authenticate your ticket prior to travelling, or the least expensive ticket to get, can leave you unenthusiastic to go sightseeing for fear of doing something wrong.

When you arrive in a nation, some schools will meet you with your transport to the university. If not, they’ll be glad to offer you instructions on how to get there. You can always ask the international office at your school for the best ways of moving around a city, or for the details of a decent taxi company.

Talk to someone about your experience

If you don’t know how something functions or how to do something in your new country, then ask someone around you. You’ll have other students around you going through similar culture shock and confusion, or you can talk to people you reside with in student housing. Both should be willing to assist and make your time studying overseas easier.

Friends and family from home will be eager to converse with you about your new study overseas adventure, so catch up with them from time to time on the phone or with video calling. Talk about the things you really like about the new country and also the things that you don’t particularly like.

Your university is also there to assist you with your general well-being. If you’re feeling overly overwhelmed by any situation, it’s crucial to have a chat with them about how you’re feeling.

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