How can international students deal with cultural shock?
I am an international student who plans to study a bachelor's degree at the United States. I have heard that many other international students have had troubles when facing cultural shock. Therefore, I would like to know how can it be handled effectively.
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Congrats on planning to study in the United States for your undergraduate degree!! International students are key to the make-up of universities across the U.S. and often bring much needed diversity, ideas, thoughts, and balance to the student body. Now I see that you are from Mexico, which means that you may have been to the U.S. before given that you are fairly close. Having spent any time in the U.S. before college will be beneficial in helping you deal with culture shock (that is if you have been to the U.S. before).
Culture shock manifests itself differently in every person; some people miss the food, some people miss family, some people miss speaking the language, there are innumerable ways that you may experience culture shock. Things may seem really different at first and hard to navigate so it is important to talk to people about the issues you are dealing with. There will likely be other international students from Mexico studying at your university who probably will be able to relate to the culture shock. Talking to others about how you are feeling and remembering that there are people and resources for you to utilize is something to keep in mind.
Also know that there is likely an international student's office at your school that has resources for you to use if you find yourself having difficulty in adjusting to life in the United States. Know that you are not alone and that there are people out there who can help you. Also, think about joining a club that allows you to maintain a connection to home. My university had a Chinese students associate, Asian-American club, Hispanic-Latino Students association etc which provided students a venue to meet other similar students. These clubs put on movie nights, cultural events, and food events (my favorite were the food events) which was a way for them to interact with the student body and raise awareness. I would go to the food and culture events all the time and it was so much fun (the food was amazing and I would eat literally everything). Being an international student away from home in the United States may seem scary, but it will be an incredibly rewarding experience. You probably will experience culture shock here and there, but so long as you advocate for yourself, talk to people, talk to your family, and use the resources made available to you, you will do great!!
I hope this helps and I wish you the best of luck.
I can definitely relate to you as I have moved across the globe to the United States about 5 years ago for school. I remember being really excited and nervous at the same time when I first stepped foot on the US soil, but I soon have the biggest culture shock in my life. I think the best thing you can do to prepare yourself is to keep a positive attitude. Challenge yourself to learn something new everyday while you are in the United States, whether it be the city you are living in, or the culture of Americans. Ask questions respectfully, for questions are usually a great conversation starters. Be an objective observer and make sure you don't automatically perceive anything that is different to be "wrong" or "negative". Try to keep an open mind and think of logical reasons for why Americans do things differently than people in your home country.
Finding a strong support system could also help you overcome cultural shock. A great way to find a support system is through getting involved in the social aspects of your campus! Try to do some research of the clubs and activities on your school's website or campus flyers, and join at least a group of people who share your interest. This is an excellent way to make friends with like-minded people and it could also help you overcome homesickness. In the United States, many schools provide professional counseling and therapy sessions that may be able to help you adjust to the new environment. If you find yourself feeling low and starting to withdraw yourself and spend excessive amount of time alone, you should seek professional help immediately! Sometimes it is not easy to live in an environment that you are not familiar with, but you don't have to do this alone.
Another thing that could help is to learn a few home recipes from your parents/family before you come to the United States! I crave for my mom's home cooked meals whenever I am sick, so I made sure learn a couple of my favorite recipes from my mom so I could make it myself whenever I don't feel good. You might be able to share your home recipes with your American friends too!
I wish you the best of luck in everything!
Yvonne recommends the following next steps:
One of the problems most people have when they come from another country is to continue their strong binds with their country. They lack the flexibility to adjust to a new culture because they can not take the time to learn about the new culture or become too critical of the new culture. They close themselves off to the possibility of new relationships and discovering new food, people and events. If you continue to live in a country you left it will be hard to live in the country you reside. Remember you left your country you did not leave your country to live in it during this time. Be friendly and open. Each city in the US is different and have may positive and negative aspects like all places.
I have worked with many people from other countries and those more open to learning about others adjust faster.