How International Students Can Help Manage Cultural Shock


Studying abroad is absolutely a unique and interesting experience, but there are also some instances where international students aren’t necessarily mentally prepared for living within a brand new culture. This is what is usually termed as “culture shock,” and although it can be difficult, there are certainly ways that it can be effectively managed. In this article, we take a look at a few ways you can become accustomed to an unfamiliar culture so that you can eventually make it become a highly approachable and familiar culture!

Getting started with culture shock management

If you’ve routinely been feeling uncomfortable living in your international student accommodation in Sydney, there’s a good chance you’re experiencing a bit of culture shock, particularly if Australia shares few similarities with your home country. Culture shock doesn’t even necessarily have to mean just the country you’re living in – it can also include being separated from your support network, such as friends and family. Culture shock can affect people in a wide variety of ways, so knowing what these are can help manage any negative feelings. For instance, it could be something as simple as the climate making it difficult for some students to live comfortably in another country, it could be a high difficulty understanding and learning the language, or it could be because social roles and responsibilities are vastly different to what you’re traditionally used to. It could even be a healthy combination of all of these things! No matter what is causing your culture shock, there are a few ways to help yourself get better accustomed to your new home for the time you send there studying.

Understanding the social rules and behaviour

Adjusting to culture shock can sometimes mean you do a little bit of your own homework about some of the less obvious aspects of living in another country, such as the common (and often unspoken) social rules. Developing an understanding of what another culture values, what they prioritise, how people should behave and how business and academic life generally work can help you better prepare for situations that would otherwise make you feel overwhelmed and stressed. Understanding social needs in another country goes far beyond a simple understanding of things like food, dress and behaviour – trying to work out some of the common cultural values can help you understand how everything works in whatever country you’re residing in, as it can lift a veil on a whole range of behaviours you were not previously accustomed to.

Seek help for culture shock when it’s getting too much

Universities are very familiar with international students experiencing culture shock, and this means that they are more than prepared to manage any issues with cultural adjustment you may have. Finding a counsellor on the university campus can help relieve some of the issues you have, as they are able to walk you through the issues and potentially give you education strategies to help better deal with the in the future. It’s also not a bad idea to make new friends who are Australian, as they will be able to give you some more clear insight into certain cultural practices – sometimes it’s something as simple as helping with the huge variety of Australian slang!