Adapting to a New Culture: Tips For International Students.
Hey guys, Are you getting ready to attend school abroad, or already there as an international student? That is great! And I’m super proud of your efforts. To be honest, I understand that it is usually not easy for international students to adjust to a new environment, especially if they’re entirely new to the country.
In the same vein, adapting to a new culture isn’t a walk in the park either; you’re constantly walking on eggshells, trying to be respectful to the locals and their culture and not create a massive cultural blunder that would lead to social suicide (damn, I paint a bleary picture). As an international student, you’d be in direct interaction with indigenes, natives, and other international students. I promise it’s not all dark and scary.
I remember a funny story, about a friend of mine who traveled to Seoul, South Korea as part of a cultural exchange. He went out to get dinner with some friends and acquaintances, where he was offered tea, which he graciously accepted. He wasn’t aware of the Korean cultural etiquette of drinking tea, where when one is offered tea, one must bow and turn to the side to drink after being served by an Elder. When he was corrected, he felt very embarrassed. I’m sure you would want to avoid making a similar mistake and you’re open to learn and have a ton of questions.
Well, that’s why I’m here, with my trusty bag of 10 tips on how to step out of your comfort zone and adjust easily to your new environment.
Learn about your Destination.
Perhaps the simplest way to blend in quickly is to learn about where you’re going. Imagine you’re on a James Bond-type secret mission, and you need all the information you can get.
Now, the context is different, but the rule remains the same. Equip yourself with sufficient knowledge of the food, norms, customs, relationships, and others.
A good example is learning the local language of your destination. Being able to speak and listening to others will allow you to adapt better and faster.
Also, learn about common stereotypes and confirm their validity before acting on them to avoid coming across as rude and making enemies.
Finally, you can research affordable transportation plans and access to basic amenities. This can save you a lot of time and effort once you get to your destination.
Once your plane touches the ground at the Airport, wear your explorer’s hat and pay close and careful attention to everything you see. Observe the neighborhood, how people interact, and their way of life. Embrace the newness of everything you see and have an appreciative mindset. Also, be open-minded, so you don’t suffer from culture shock.
If you’ll be at your accommodation before school resumes, your neighbors are the first people to connect with. They can serve as your local guides, teaching you the culture and pointing out important places like supermarkets, healthcare centers, and hubs that may benefit you in the long run.
You may see many things, hear many stories, and face many experiences, making you have many questions. It’s perfectly normal for someone trying to adapt to a new setting to be surprised, confused or have a plethora of questions. Ensure you ask questions of your neighbors, friendly locals, fellow students, and public officers. They usually have the answers you seek.
Oftentimes, they may provide similar or different answers with different perspectives, which allows you to paint a broader picture of your environment and discover the depth of the culture. Moreover, you get to experience the culture from so many different peoples personal experiences or from tales they were told while growing up.
Connect to Home.
It’s normal to feel homesick for a while. However, to stop this, try finding something that makes you feel
connected to home. For instance, it could be preparing your favorite indigenous dish or
organizing your space with designs that remind you of home. It may just be “hot pepper soup“
you need during your first winter.
Also, stay connected with your family. They’re your biggest support system and a reliable anchor to keep you grounded, no matter how far you sail.
Get Familiar With the Natives.
Talking to locals is the best way to make friends, find answers, adjust faster, and discover cultural secrets. See native friends as a quick bridge to learning a new culture, speaking the language and blending with the local community. These friendships also help you expand your social circle and prevent loneliness in an entirely new world.
Join Adventure Clubs for International Students.
Another interesting way to adjust to a new culture as a student is by joining social activities. Whether it’s an extracurricular at school, a religious event, or a community program, ensure you join at least one. Being part of such gatherings can help you better understand the environment you’re in, besides, it’s another great way to make friends, have fun, and learn.
Explore as much as you can.
Traveling across different regions in your new country is a sure crash course in learning the
culture. Go to tourist attractions to learn about the country’s history and geography, and keep
your ears on the ground.
Furthermore, it’s important to learn about the school you’re currently enrolled in. If the school
authorities don’t allocate a tour guide after enrollment, you can ask a nice person to show you
This is a pro tip, so you don’t get lost when leaving the library at midnight ��
In addition, exploring your new environment allows you to connect the dots and add color to
Traveling connects the dots and adds color to your adventure.
Learn From Other International Students.
Usually, international students have similar experiences. Try connecting with students who have
crossed this hurdle before and learned from their experience. Their stories can offer you wisdom
Concluding my special Tips for International Students;
And here we are! If my introduction was scary, I hope you’re relaxed now. Your study abroad
can be a beautiful experience from the start, as long as you do the necessary things earlier
mentioned. There may be some challenges still, but trust me, it’s all part of the journey. Bye!!
To enjoy more posts like this and gain more educational and career guidance, simply visit us at PTMA
P.S.; As my parting gift to you, I have included in this article, some clubs and associations that you, as an international student, can join. I hid them right in the captions on the images. My special ‘Ember’ treats to you. Don’t say I don’t do anything for you. Enjoy!!!
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