Culture shock part 2: how to effectively manage culture shock

A group of students talking inside the Murdoch Uni student village

Are you suffering from culture shock in a new country or environment? Follow our tips and you’ll be feeling at home in your new environment before you know it.

When moving to a new place, after the excitement wears off you can often find yourself feeling confused, different and lonely. While these feelings can be isolating, it's important to know they are completely normal - and if you're feeling them, you're moving through a four-part process of something called 'culture shock'.

To speed up the process towards the final stage, 'acceptance', there are a few things you can do:

Create a home away from home

Whether you're in a dorm room, one-bedroom apartment or a share house, it's important you make your new space feel like home.

Investing in décor items like indoor plants, cushions, blankets and small knick-knacks of cultural significance won't break the bank, and they'll do wonders to make you feel more comfortable in your new space.

It will also help to print and hang photos of your friends and family from back home, to remind you you're not truly alone, and your loved ones are only a phone call away.

Explore your new city

Sightseeing is one of the best ways to find the things you'll love about your new city.

If you've recently moved to Perth, be sure to spend some time exploring the breath-taking landscapes of WA. With over 12,000km of amazing beaches, furry wildlife, and more than 100 national parks, there's plenty to do and see!

Improve your language skills

Thanks to the wide availability of online language learning tools like Duolingo and Babbel, it's easy to start learning the language/s of your new home well before making the big move.

Once you get there, you'll find being forced to speak the local language on a consistent, daily basis will help you to improve quickly. Becoming comfortable with your new language will help you to ease into your new home and make stronger relationships with local people.

Make new friends

Having a social life and building strong relationships with people in your community are vital to feeling at home in your new country.

If you're at uni, it's a great idea to join a club and/or socialise with people in your course to make the most of a shared interest. Remember: fellow new international students will be feeling exactly the same way as you are, so don't be afraid to say hello and start a conversation.

Keep contact with your family

Talk to people back home and be honest about your experience abroad. Having the support and encouragement of your family and friends will help you immensely. Many people make a mistake by keeping quiet to avoid worrying the people we love, but being honest with them will give them the opportunity to give their advice. Who knows – it may actually help them to feel better as much as it helps you.

Focus on why you made the move in the first place

When you're going through a tough time, it's important to think about what made you make the move in the first place, and what your end goal is. Setting yourself small, yet achievable goals can help you stay focused and maintain a positive mindset. 

Sohail, an international Murdoch student from Pakistan, offers his advice to students that have just made the move to Perth.

"Something that really helped me transition smoothly was regularly reminding myself to stay focused on my goal. I was lucky to find great teachers who were very supportive throughout and made some good friends who were easy to reach out to when need be."  

Seek out help

If you're feeling overwhelmed and things aren't improving, it's important you seek help from a professional.

At Murdoch, you'll have access to Caladenia Counselling Clinic, which provides safe, supportive and affordable counselling for people who are experiencing challenges in their lives or are dealing with a difficult situation.

You'll be seen by postgraduate students enrolled in the Master of Counselling who are supervised by experienced and qualified counselling staff. Several of our counsellors have fluency in non-English languages to make you feel more comfortable. 

Ready to take the leap? If you’re ready for the amazing experience of moving to a new country, find out more about becoming an international Murdoch student.
Posted on:

14 Oct 2023

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