TAGS: connect to the world in englishculture shockEnglishESLESL in San Franciscohow toIICIIC ESLIIC StudentsIntercultural Institute of Californiainternational studentsLearn English in San FranciscoSan FranciscoStudy English in San Francisco

Culture shock (noun): a feeling of confusion, doubt, or nervousness caused by being in a place (such as a foreign country) that is very different from what you are used to.


Living in another country as an international student can be exciting, fun, and life-changing.  But it can also be stressful and produce feelings of extreme sadness, loneliness, and frustration.  If you have been experiencing some of this, here are some suggestions to help get you through this difficult time:

1. Talk to someone

Whether it’s a family member back home, a close friend, or a teacher at your school, it’s important to ask for help when you need it.  Sometimes you just need to talk about a hard day, but if the hard days turn into hard weeks or months then it might be time to ask for more help.

2.  Take care of your physical self

Are you getting enough sleep?  Are you eating healthy food, or are you eating a lot of junk food?  Have you been able to stretch and do a little bit of exercise each day?  Some days your body does not feel well, and that can make your mental self feel worse.

3.  Be open-minded and try new things

You are living in a new and different environment.  Try to learn as much as you can about the customs and culture of the area. Is there a restaurant that you see that looks interesting?  How about that dance class, hiking spot, or art museum that you want to try?  Ask a friend to try something new with you if you aren’t sure about it.

4.  Connect with other people and stay busy

Hanging out with friends and meeting new people is a great way to adjust to a new environment. Try to meet people who are native English speakers too. Having trouble meeting people you connect with at school?  See if there are any community centers or clubs near you that sound interesting.

5.  Be patient

It can take a long time to adjust to a new environment. (some say as long as 6-12 months!)  Remember that these feelings do not last for forever.  Sometimes it will just take some time for things to improve.


Key words and phrases

Doubt: a feeling of uncertainty or unsureness

Extreme: very serious or severe

Junk food: food that has low nutritional value, such as french fries, chips, or candy bars

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Check out these sources for more detailed explanations of culture shock and advice:

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