After the excitement of your first days on campus begins to wear off, you may feel more homesick. It is during these periods that counseling offices can be of greatest assistance. Loyola University New Orleans’ Center for International Education outlines the following steps for adjusting to a new culture:
The easiest way to become involved is through a friend or community member who is already engaged in an activity that interests you. Actively participate in the life of your new community and its people. Acknowledge that you must take some risks to develop your life in the United States. You will have to make a conscious effort to make friends and explore new things. It is a great bonding experience to explore your school, town, or campus activities with a new friend. It is also important to reward yourself for your courage and be realistic about your goals.
Take care of yourself
Throughout the period of cultural adaptation, take good care of yourself. Read books or rent videos in your home language; exercise and get plenty of rest; write letters, text, e-mail, or telephone home; eat good food; and do things you enjoy with friends. Take special notice of things you enjoy about living in the host culture. It is also important to maintain confidence in yourself as you face these new challenges and situations. Keep in touch with friends and family from home and talk with them about your experiences in the States. A solid support system is a good foundation of self-confidence.
Continue to learn about US culture
As you spend more time in the United States, you will become more skilled at recognizing when differences are cultural and not personal. You will learn to predict how and when your cultural values and American behaviors are likely to conflict, and you will be prepared to adjust and avoid these challenges.
Look into counseling
Although it might be uncommon abroad, it’s common for people in the States to seek professional help when they going through transition or feeling strong emotions, and the process is completely confidential. Culture shock is often described on a U or W curve—there will be ups and downs like a roller coaster, times of excitement and a love of the new culture, and then times of sadness and frustration. Talking with someone about these feelings can help in the transition.
Just as you are missing your friends and family, they are also missing you! In today’s technology age, the ability to stay connected is often just a click away. From Skype to social media, it’s easy to keep in touch with family and friends. Sharing your experiences is a great way to see that you are not alone on this adventure.
Learn more about life at US universities in our International Students section.