Lots of people have the conviction that moving to another country to study is a universal way to improve one’s life. It is known that one of the most difficult aspects is the adaptation of students in a foreign country. Why is it so difficult to get used to a foreign culture? What should be done to overcome the cultural barrier when you are going to start the new academic year in the foreign university?
Stages of the Psychological Adaptation
It is not a secret that when a person moves to live in another country even for a while, he or she undergoes a difficult process of adaptation. For many people, this process begins with a stage that psychologists call a «honeymoon». It occurs when a person is in a state of extreme euphoria – everything around is new, there are many interesting discoveries and bright hopes, and he or she is thoroughly enraptured by the host country.
Unfortunately, everything comes to an end sooner or later. As such, the feeling of homesickness comes after the honeymoon period. It is a feeling of the prolonged vacation: «I had enough of this and it is time to go home». In fact, according to the psychologists, in three months, the individual who finds oneself in an unfamiliar environment falls into the so-called «cultural shock». This person yearns to see his or her relatives and friends, and awareness of the differences between the cultures causes confusion in the value orientations and a sharp rejection of everything in a foreign country.
At this stage, many cannot stand it and go back home. Alternatively, you may go to visit your relatives and friends at home for a short period of time. Here, you may get into the trap of a «reverse culture shock», which is often an even harder test. Psychologists explain this by the fact that our memory gently stores the frozen images of the reality that has already become the past. However, life does not stand still, and everything might have changed in your absence.
Here, much depends on the personal characteristics. You may want either to stay at home or immediately buy tickets and return to your university. So, how to adapt to the conditions of the new life and study without any problems?
Communicate with Your Family in a Moderate Way
Always remember that you have come to another country and entered a foreign university in order to share your unique cultural experience and acquire a new one. Thus, if you constantly talk with your relatives on Skype and chat with the old friends using social networks, then you will deprive yourself of the chance to get acquainted with some interesting people and will remain an alien in a foreign university. Moreover, your homesickness will only increase.
Always Ask If You Do Not Get Something
Most foreign students usually are very embarrassed that the language of the country where they came to study is not their mother tongue, so they try to speak quickly and rarely ask again if they do not understand what their interlocutor says. This behavior can offend your new acquaintances, as they may think that you are not listening to them at all.
Remember the Traditions and Customs of Your Country
Some students are embarrassed to talk about their country with their new friends. However, it is wrong. The fact that you are from another country makes you unique. If you talk about your culture, values and customs, then your new friends will love you for it even more. Still, it is important to keep the balance – if you will talk about it all the time, it will be annoying.
Communicate Regularly with a Large Number of People
Very often, foreign students are grouped together to separate themselves from the rest. Try to get as many friends as possible – especially those who are the residents of the country you came to. Thanks to them, you can feel like at home in another country. In addition, they will acquaint you with the customs and traditions of the country, city and university. It is possible that you will avoid all embarrassing situations thanks to these tips. In addition to that, the level of the foreign language proficiency may drastically improve.
Become a Member of Any Club or Organization
One of the most effective and fastest ways to acquire new friends in a foreign university is to find comrades in interests. Each college and university has many clubs and organizations of interest where new members are always welcome. The main thing is not to be afraid to leave the comfort zone and enjoy your new life at a foreign university.
People get used to everything, and if you hold out for about a year, then, most likely, you will slowly become entangled in a new state of things, get acquainted with the group mates and your attitude towards the country of residence will become more positive.