Adjusting to Life Abroad: Do’s and Don’ts

By Jennifer Everett, Fall 2016

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DO:

  • Remember to take time for yourself. The way that adjusting works is the “W curve”. Basically, the lines that form a W are how happy a person is. A person is super happy to be abroad, and then the culture shock hits, and they hate where they are for a bit. Then it gets better, and then homesickness hits. And then a person levels out and has adjusted. How I got over my homesickness was listening to my favorite songs in English and just reflecting on life while I was in a garden in the middle of my new town. It brought together my past and my present.
  • Embrace that you are going to feel homesick. It doesn’t matter how ‘tough’ you are. Culture shock is real and it hits you like a train. For me, mine was in the shower at a hostel in Naples because I hadn’t spoken English in 3 days.
  • Learn the language. It looks great on resumes and will allow you to show that you really are trying to embrace the culture you’re living in.

DON’T:

  • Stay in your room. It isolates you, and allows you to dwell on home. You’re only here for a little while, might as well enjoy it as much as possible!
  • Only hang out with the others from your country. Do get to know them and become friends with them, but spend time by yourself or with locals.
  • Just “wing it”. Looking at maps, memorizing important phrases, and just reading some blogs about the area from past students or travelers will help you not get so overwhelmed when you get there.
  • Only eat foods you know. Try all the new foods, even if you think you’ll hate them. This gets you out of your comfort zone, as well as shows you the culture. You’re abroad; don’t just eat American food.

 

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