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7 Quick And Handy Tips To Make Cultural Adjustment Easier While Studying Abroad

Posted on Jun 05, 2017

Study Abroad Adjustment

Congratulations! You are about to embark on an amazing voyage to your dream study destination. From carefully reviewing your documents to packing your belongings, you have so much to prepare; but it’s all so exciting. Once you have done the due diligence pertaining to the travel paraphernalia, take some time off to prepare yourself for the great change, the culture shift. Are you ready to be surprised, overwhelmed and shocked! Relax, each one of us go through these phases on finding ourselves in a new and unfamiliar environment. The best part would be when you’ll start understanding, hence appreciating and eventually accepting the changes around you. Here are some tips to help you adjust to the cultural changes on study abroad:

Keep an open mind, be positive: as you move in to a different country, everything appears outlandish, from the language to the food. You may find people with an outlook that is poles apart from your beliefs. Remember, each country has its unique culture, conventions and lifestyle that together influence people’s consciousness. Hence, culture is a relative idea. Just as you have come to a foreign country for education, consider the novelty of the place as an integral part of your educational journey. Approach whatever you encounter like a textbook, try to learn and understand the difference, the rationale behind all that you see and hear or even feel. This is a rare opportunity to know a culture inside out. Make your best effort to extract as much information and insight you can about their society and values. Be enthusiastic and positive in your interaction, you’ll never have a dull moment.

Observe keenly: On your study abroad stay in the country, you’ll settle in their ways of life without much difficulty if you learn their ways. As much as you may read about the place and people or hear from someone who’s been there, nothing comes close to witnessing everything live, with your own eyes. As Confucius said “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” You must observe what kind of verbal and non-verbal modes of communication they use. Just as they’ll not appreciate a caricature of their behavioural and societal norms, they’ll readily accept someone who can emulate their style of interaction and communication with due respect and earnestness. Hence, do not plunge head on but take your time, see through everything, ask locals and over time gather enough understanding of their communication cues so as not to be misunderstood. Your effort will not be in vain but win you some great friends.

Show curiosity and ask questions: Consider a foreigner asking you about your country and culture with eagerness. You’ll love to talk about your heritage and traditions, at the same time strike an instant bond with the person. Similarly, if you show curiosity and enquire about the place, customs and the practices, the locals would be glad to share with you what they take pride in or are indispensable to their culture. Not only would you collect useful information but feel a lot more familiar and at home.  Furthermore, in a new country, even the basic style of living could be different. You might have to seek help to go about with your chores. Do not hesitate to ask your peers or neighbours how they get things done. However, language could be a roadblock, even if it’s English, because native speakers can use many dialects and have their own lingo. Hence, it’s ok to rephrase and repeat yourself to understand and clarify.

Travel and explore: one of the effective means of familiarising with a place is by travelling around. Grab this opportunity to visit iconic places, landmarks, local bazaars, countryside. Comb through the neighbouring areas, explore the unique characteristic of the land and the people. Though you’ll be having a lot of educational excursions, you can tour the place on your own. Travelling lends you the chance to learn about the history and the geography, to interact and converse with the locals and allows to immerse in the culture.

Join a hobby class or participate in physical activities: monotony is a troublemaker; to avoid falling into a monotonous routine deviate your mind with activities where you get to interact with others. You can join clubs based on your interest, hobby classes or whichever physical activity interests you. By attending such classes beyond regular college is a way of keeping yourself engaged and motivated; it’s a strategy to ward off the feelings of loneliness and homesickness.

Talk to other international students/advisor: During the first few months you’ll probably have to cope with a lot of issues pertaining to cultural differences. Lighten yourself by discussing your problems with other international students and what you are doing to resolve them. Don’t worry, they too would be going through the same difficult patch, facing similar problems and would be quite willing to share their ways of dealing with the problems. Together think of ways to overcome the challenges. However, you can also approach your college counsellor or international student advisor to get professional guidance.

Stay connected: Fall back on your support system when stressed out. Connect to your family and friends to let them in the loop. Your parents will feel more at ease if you share your problems and they can guide you through. Friends back home will provide you with doses of enthusiasm, laughter and the comfort of the good old days. Keeping in touch with home will make things a lot easier for you, especially at the initial phase.

To quote Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru “Culture is the widening of the mind and the spirit”, study abroad transfers you to an arena with infinite possibilities of expanding your vision. This is the base camp of life where you get trained to adjust to any situation in any part of the world, learn to seek unity in diversity and evolve as the future global citizen ready to transcend boundaries and transform lives.

ReachIvy  sincerely hopes that this article serves as a critical tool to increase your knowledge base. For study abroad consultation or career counselling  with ReachIvy, Submit a Query now! Also, review our resources to access our free premium content.

This article was also published in The Better India on 01/06/2017.

Posted in Study Abroad

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