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Posted On : 15 August 2023     |     By : Kangaroo Edu

Dealing With Cultural Shock Abroad–A Nepalese Student Perspective

The experience of studying abroad can be incredible. Hundreds of thousands of students decide to pursue higher education overseas for a variety of reasons, mainly for the opportunity to receive better education, to gain the experience of travelling to a new country, to find new employment opportunities, and overall, to build a better future for themselves. Living abroad is not always simple, though. Culture shock is one of the many difficulties students encounter while studying abroad. Studying abroad involves adjusting to a completely new culture and learning a new way of life. On the bright side, it’s not impossible to get over culture shock. In this blog, we discuss the various aspects of culture shock faced by Nepalese students in Australia. What is Culture Shock? Culture shock is the effect felt when transitioning from a culture familiar to you to one that is unfamiliar. It entails experiencing adjustment in a foreign setting, getting to know new people, and learning the customs of a new country. It also involves the blow of being physically cut off from loved ones—people you would confide in and turn to for support and advice during difficult times. Factors That Contribute to Culture Shock An individual’s experience with culture shock is mainly affected by two distinct factors; their own individual characteristics and the extent of difference between their culture back home and the country they have decided to start their life. It is more likely that an international student will face a cultural shock when the cultural gap between one’s native culture and that of the new country, is immense. This cultural divide is based on factors such as:
  • Language
  • Values
  • Social roles
  • Food
  • Climate
Stages of Culture Shock To better understand the different stages of culture shock, Oberg (1954) in his anthropological discussion of culture shock identified four stages of cultural adjustment that describe the process by which people adapt to a new cultural environment.
  • The Honeymoon: Students at this stage are eager to explore their new surroundings. The excitement of being in a foreign country causes students to appear cheerful and settled, although their participation at this stage is surface-level and touristy. Most students may not be prepared for future challenges at this level.
  • The Cultural Shock: The second stage is marked by annoyance and frustration with the disparities between the native culture and the foreign culture. Differences in languages, values, food, climate, etc., can exacerbate the situation and make it more difficult for international students to adjust to their new environment.
  • The Gradual Adjustment: Students at this start to become more familiar with and understand the new culture they have been exposed to. As they begin understanding the new culture, they gradually develop a greater appreciation for their host country. Compared to the other stages, this stage takes time and comes with numerous highs and lows. Students must learn new coping strategies for dealing with stress and loneliness in the absence of the support structures they are accustomed to at home.
  • Adaptation: Most students who spend a significant amount of time assimilated into a new culture will eventually move onto the fourth stage, which is acceptance and adaptation. They are no longer adversely impacted by cultural differences and can easily engage in social interactions.
How to Minimize the Effects of Culture Shock When Studying Abroad While culture shock typically passes, it’s important to know that there are things you can do to help mitigate some of its effects. Here, we have put together a few ideas to help international students adjust to their new surroundings.
  • Acknowledge that this is a common occurrence. Culture shock can affect anyone, regardless of their level of travel experience
  • Keep in touch with your family back home
  • Make new friends
  • Seek help from the international student bodies at your university/college
  • Education Counseling
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