Remember how exciting it was to finally be in the land of your dreams? How you screamed when your admission was approved? Finally, you get to live the life you’ve always wanted.
But sometimes, that euphoria doesn’t last. Over time, you find yourself overwhelmed with many foreign issues and ideologies.
When you move to a new environment with a different culture, you’re likely to feel disoriented. That experience is what is known as Culture shock.
What is Culture Shock?
Culture shock is for an international student what postpartum depression is for a first time nursing mother.
Getting into a new country like Germany makes everything seem strange to you. Everything includes the surroundings, food, language, education system and many more.
You may feel overwhelmed with the new environment, language and culture you need to keep up with. The process of identifying, processing and adapting to this new norm is called Culture Shock.
You experience culture shock when you immigrate to a new country, move between social environments or transition to another type of life.
Culture shock, if not handled, can lead to traumatic conditions. Issues like anxiety, depression, uneasiness, distress, unhealthy comparison, inferiority complex and unnecessary stress.
Here are a few tips to overcome culture shock as an international student in Germany
Tips to Overcome Culture Shock
- Be Patient with Yourself:
Adjusting to a new culture and environment takes time. It is normal to feel weird at first because of the change but do not be in a hurry. Consciously allow the new culture to excite and intrigue you.
If you are in a country like Germany, understanding the new culture will always take time. So be patient with the process.
- Understand The Academic System:
You have to accept that you are in a foreign place with a new or strange academic system. Make an effort to ask questions whenever you are confused.
As an international student, your main aim is to study and excel in school. But it doesn’t have to be boring. Make it fun by relating with your fellow students, lecturers and your course adviser.
- Acknowledge That You Will Miss Home:
Being homesick is a reality for most international students. The earlier you accept that you may miss home, the easier it will be for you. Don’t feel weird when you miss home. You have spent most of your life in the country you call home.
So changing the environment will not be easy and, it shouldn’t be something to pretend about. Everyone misses an interesting part of their homes, so be ready to miss yours someday.
- Keep in Touch with Family and Friends:
Speaking with family and friends can help you overcome homesickness quickly. It’s easy to forget about home but their support will help you adapt to your new environment easily. Tell them about your fears and difficulties. It would make you feel loved and not alone.
Also, sharing your new experiences with them builds excitement to do more every day.
- Don’t Compare Yourself to Others:
Not everyone has the same adaptation rate. Many adapt quickly, others on an average level and the rest on a slow one. On the other hand, many have been there a while or might have even grown up there. Others may have a similar culture that helps them adjust faster.
So, comparing yourself to others would not help. It could result in feeling inferior and thereafter, people-pleasing.
- Co-live With Fellow Students:
Getting to know fellow students will help you adapt quickly. One way you can do this is to live with other students.
Apart from getting a student residence, co-living spaces offer you the opportunity to meet new people while maintaining your privacy.
If you are in Germany, it could be tempting to want to stay alone or relate with people you know. But, a coliving agency like Kummuni, offers you access to a community where you can share ideas and learn more about the new country.
- Be Open-minded and Explore:
To adapt to the new environment faster, you have to be open-minded. Yet, you may take time to explore new things gradually. But don’t rush into them.
Don’t see everything that discomforts you as negative. Ask questions but don’t be judgmental. Try to see through your host country’s eyes. That way, you’ll appreciate everything better. Have fun and try out new things like food, games and visiting places.
- Avoid Country Comparison:
Sometimes, you may want to compare your country with the new environment. But that will only make it worse. Instead of pointing out things you prefer about your home country, why not lookout for things to appreciate in your new environment? Think about the friends, studies and interesting memories you will share with people when you leave your new location.
- Learn the Local Language:
Hey, don’t runoff. You may not want to do this but hear us out. Even if your program is in English, try to learn the basic words of your host country.
How do you feel when someone attempts to speak to you in your native language? You will be interested to listen to the person right?
So, no matter how hostile or friendly you think your new environment is, learning the basic phrases creates a stronger bond between you and them.
It’s also a way to learn more about the culture and make new friends. More importantly, it’s not just fun; it’s an added skill too.
Don’t Let Culture Shock Stop You from Pursuing Your Dreams
Studying abroad is not always fun. Challenges like culture shock show up but don’t let it stop you.
Apply these tips and you will find out that your new environment is a beautiful place after all.
Choose to overcome them one at a time and you’ll be glad you did.
In the end, what matters is that you achieved your goal and made memories along the way.
Have you experienced culture shock as an international student in Germany? How did you handle it?