If your school is in another country, research online about the culture of that country. What are their rules of etiquette? What are some phrases or questions used frequently in conversation? For example, in America asking “how are you” is commonly used as another way of simply saying “hello.” What are their values or social norms? Ex. Being on time is important in America, if you are late it is seen as rude. Also, ask others who have been to that country for tips or advice. What were they surprised by? What helped them to adjust to the culture? What were some similarities between the cultures?
Even schools have their own culture. Therefore, prepare yourself by finding out information about your school before the year begins. Where is your school located? What rules does the school have concerning dress code, classroom etiquette, dorm life? Who are some of the school’s teachers, deans (houseparents), and administration? What classes will you be taking?
2. Keep An Open Mind
As you enter into your new culture, try not to view the differences from your culture as negative or wrong. Each culture has reasons for the way they think and live. Write down these differences. Try to step out of your own culture and find out the reasons for these differences from your new culture’s point of view. Analyze why you may have negative feelings about these variations and see if it something you can change. If it can’t be changed, think of ways how you will be able to live with these differences.
3. Establish A Routine
Culture shock occurs because of all the changes experienced at one time. This can cause you to feel disoriented, anxious, and overwhelmed. Establishing a routine will help you find some stability in your host culture.
4. Get Involved
Although you may feel uncomfortable in your new culture, it is important for you to get out and make friends. Getting involved with a hobby, club, or sport will help you to make connections with students who have the same interests as you. Taking part in social activities will also help you to make friends and adjust to your new culture.
5. Make The Right Friends
As you start making friends, be mindful of what type of friends you are associating with. It may be easier to spend most of your time with other students who are from your country or culture. However, if they are critical of your new culture or if being with them keeps you from learning and speaking the language of your new culture/country perhaps you should widen your circle of friends. Both of these things will hinder you from adjusting to your host culture and take away from your boarding school experience.
6. Learn The Language
It may be a big step out of your comfort zone but learning and speaking the language of your new culture/country is very important. Many people will be impressed and appreciative that you are making the effort to learn their language so don’t worry too much if you stumble on your words! Learning the language of the new country you are in is vital to understanding the people and the culture. The more confidence you gain in speaking the language, the more comfortable you will be in the culture.
7. Keep in communication with those at home.
With technology today, no matter how many miles away you may be from your family and friends, they can be just a moment away through a phone or Skype call. Being in communication with those from home can worsen homesickness but with the right mindset it can be a strength.
It is helpful to share with others how you are feeling. It is good to keep them current on the developments in your life and vice versa. It is also important as you adjust to your new culture to take a break from it; talking with friends and family from home is a great outlet for that. However, if you find yourself feeling more critical and negative about your host culture after communication with home, perhaps you should reevaluate.
Family and friends who are at home, you can help your student by learning about and recognizing the symptoms of culture shock. This will help you to be more empathetic to their situation and also to worry less. Being gracious, positive, and encouraging to them and about their new culture will also assist them in their adjustment to their host culture. Additionally, if your student is experiencing culture shock sending them a care packages with some of their favorite foods, magazines, clothes, etc. from home may encourage them.
Besides studying, vacations or weekends are the good time for students to discover out-campus. Lots of students decide to travel to discover where they are living in and to spend experience with their friends.