Most of the time studying and living in Asia is positively life changing with all of the exciting challenges and new educational and cultural experiences. Sometimes the challenges and cultural differences can become a bit overwhelming and you experience symptoms such as homesickness, boredom, loneliness and even anger. This is called culture shock. So, what to do when culture shock hits you hard and you feel homesick? Read on for our top 8 tips on how to prevent or deal with culture shock and make the most out of your time in Asia!
It is common to experience culture shock when living in a foreign country. That is why it is useful to understand why you might feel a bit insecure or anxious. You are faced with a different climate, values, attitudes, lifestyles, languages, and political and religious beliefs, which can for sure be a little overwhelming. No wonder you feel homesick!
“You don’t have to like everything or get excited about everything but just being open to the experience and acknowledging that people live, think and behave differently in different countries will help heaps. If you try to understand why something is different you will also start understanding the local way of life/culture more deeply.” – Elsi, Intern of Asia Exchange
ACCEPT & ADAPT
Try to recognize that you are experiencing a culture shock. Realizing it can help you deal with it better. Culture shock can be overcome when you accept and adapt to a foreign culture.
“It was a total chaos at the beginning and I almost bought a flight back to Finland. But then step by step my life settled and my dark glasses that I was wearing came clearer. I started to see some positive changes in me. I gave Bali a chance. Bali taught me to appreciate my life.” – Jasmin, former Asia Exchange student
LEARN & BE OPEN-MINDED
Learn as much as possible about your destination. As you learn and become open-minded it is easier to understand the differences, see things from a different perspective and thus adapt. Learning some key words in the local language helps a lot as well!
“Knowledge is the key. — The more you know in advance, the easier it is when you experience everything first hand.” – Suvi, International Relations Specialist
To get more out of your experience, make sure to focus on all the positive aspects instead of having a negative mindset. Spend time with positive-minded people, have fun and feel the good vibes!
“I moved abroad for one year. After two weeks I was ready to go home. I hated how crowded my city was and the fact that I did not understand the language. I hated the crazy traffic and taxi drivers who thought that wearing a seat belt was an assault towards them. Then I realized that I was not going to stay there forever, so I could concentrate on the positive things.” – Katri, Student Advisor
TOUCH BASE WITH HOME
It is good to stay in touch with family and friends back home. But remember, if you spend all your time connected to them, it just keeps feeding homesickness even more. So, forget your phone for a while and go exploring!
“Whenever you feel too much homesick my advice is NOT to call home. Sometimes it will make you feel even more stranded. Instead, put on your favorite music and find a place where you feel relaxed; whether it is a park, beach, library, restaurant, whatever.” – Nina, International Coordinator
DO NOT COMPARE
You will see differences everywhere but try to avoid comparing those with your home country. It won’t help you to settle in. Instead, see the differences as an opportunity to learn about a new culture and grow as a person!
“There is no perfect country. Each country has its pros and cons, even your home country.” Katri, Student Advisor
Start a new hobby and enjoy things you cannot do back home. Try the activities favoured by locals, eat Asian food, find the hidden gems of the country… The list could go on and on. Since you are already staying abroad, why not take full advantage of it and do all the things you were dreaming of before you started the semester?
“Keep busy. That will keep your mind of things, and again, you will immerse yourself in the new way of living and also create a “normal” everyday life routine.” – Elsi, Intern of Asia Exchange
Go see new places and explore the surroundings. It will help you to appreciate your new home and you will gain lots of priceless experiences. Don not look back and say what if…it is a once in a lifetime experience – enjoy it WHILE YOU HAVE THE CHANCE!
“Your time abroad is not going to last forever, so please use it well and try to think what you can do that you cannot do back home.” – Katri, Student Advisor